A young chess champion’s financial struggles were again talked about online days after his victory last week.
Award-winning author Ninotchka Rosca was the one who brought up this information about Bince Rafael Operiano, a nine-year-old chess prodigy, on Facebook in response to a politician’s congratulatory message to the boy.
Operiano from Oas, Albay bagged the gold prize at the Eastern Asia Youth Championship Standard Rapid Blitz (under-10 category) in Bangkok, Thailand on November 12.
The local government of Albay later conferred him with the title “Pride of Oas” because of his victory.
Moreover, Operiano also received a cash incentive amounting to P20,000 for bringing honor to his hometown.
Prior to his win, however, the boy’s parents bared the struggles he went through to compete.
These include spending three nights at the airport to sleep due to the family’s lack of funds.
Rosca recalled this experience on Facebook on November 20.
This was part of her criticism of House Speaker Martin Romualdez (1st District, Leyte), who was among those who congratulated Operiano on the platform.
“The boy had to sleep for three nights at the Thailand airport because there was no budget for his lodgings,” she said.
Rosca then went on to make a scathing comment against the latter.
“This tweeter goes with his cousin on super junkets. Filipino shame vs. Filipino pride. Ang mga hinayupk puro dadah,” she said.
To emphasize on her view, Rosca accompanied her post with a screenshot of Romualdez’s congratulatory message to Operiano.
In his post, Romualdez exclaimed Pinoy pride because of the young Albay native.
“Sa edad mong siyam na taong gulang, ipinakita mo sa buong mundo na wala sa edad ang galing at husay ng mga atletang Pilipino. Mabuhay ka Bince at muli, congratulations!” the lawmaker said with the hashtags #SpeakerFMR, #MartinRomualdez and #AtletangPinoy.
Romualdez’s post can still be viewed via his official Facebook page.
The Leyte representative also has a reputation for being a sports enthusiast in Congress.
Romualdez was among the reported attendees of the trip of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and his family in Singapore during a Formula One racing weekend last October.
This trip was heavily questioned and criticized online because it happened barely a week after Typhoon Karding (International name: Noru) ravaged several parts of Luzon.
In line with Rosca’s post, Romualdez has no response to her remark.
Criticisms vs politicians on sports anew
Her reproach against Romualdez, however, triggered renewed criticisms of politicians over their perceived lack of support for talented Filipino players and athletes.
A digital creator named Gin Laroza III shared a meme-like graphic that juxtaposed a photo of Operiano with a screenshot of Romualdez’s Facebook post to him.
On the post, Laroza quoted Rosca’s remarks toward the congressman.
In the comments section, several Filipinos expressed their dismay and frustration over the government.
They said that politicians only learned to appreciate athletes and players when they win.
“Tapos magstart na magpapansin yung mga nakaupo dahil nanalo paunahan sino tutulong kunwari. Pero nung hindi pa nanalo quiet quiet muna tsaka tutulungan pag nanalo na. A sad life sa mga athlete ng Pinas,” one user said.
“Pag nanalo na, proud to be pinoy pero sa suporta hinde. Ever since ang suporta ng gobyerno sa mga Pilipino ay wala. Swerte ka na kung may kakarampot na inilaan. Tapos kapag kinilala na sa ibang bansa makiki-proud pinoy, isang kang karangalan sa ating bansa, etc.,” another user pointed out.
“Saka lang naman nila naaappreciate yung mga athlete pag nanalo na eh, pero kulang or madalas walang suporta bago pa man din sila magbigay ng karangalan sa bansa. Sad Reality,” another user commented.