Medals For Spare Change

By: Iste Sesante Leopoldo
Sunstar Cebu


SWIMMING FOR GOLD. In the near future, the Badjaos of Cebu may no longer be known as those begging for spare change from boat passengers. Instead, they will be known as top athletes winning gold medals for Cebu as they became the recipients of the swimming grassroots

FOR the Cebu City Sports Commission (CCSC), what better sport to train Badjao kids in but swimming.

CCSC has tapped 48 Badjao kids to join the Badjao Grassroots Swimming Program, which was launched the other day at the Cebu City Sports Center Aquatic Center.

The kids are from Alaska Elementary School located in Mambaling and are mostly Badjao kids from eight to 12 years old.


Thousands of Badjaos live in Alaska, Mambaling and most of them come from Zamboanga or Basilan. Their main source of income is fishing, while most of the women and children are known for diving for coins thrown into the sea by boat passengers.

The CCSC wants to change this notion and instead of these kids swimming after loose change, they will now be swimming for medals and to a better future.

According to CCSC Chairman Edward Hayco, it took them two years before the said project materialized and he is overwhelmed that it is already being executed behind the efforts of CCSC Commissioner Bernard Ricablanca and University of Cebu (UC) head coach Rolando Alvarez.

“I am glad that it has finally materialized. The Badjao kids are the beneficiaries of this grassroots program because we want to develop these kids’ natural talent, being water people. From childhood, they are already exposed to water,” said Hayco.

Aside from the orientation last Frieday, the kids also had a physical check-up and received swimming gear such as swimsuits, caps, goggles, towels and toiletries. The kids will be also be training every Friday.

The kids also listened to Coach Alvarez telling them of the possibility of getting athletic scholarships if they seriously hone their skills. Marathon queen Mary Joy Tabal also gave a short talk telling the kids how she used to swim as crosstraining and telling the kids how lucky they are to be given free swimming training.

CCSC Commissioner Rhoel Dejaño, a conditioning coach, also explained to the kids the benefits of swimming.


This is the first grassroots program in swimming that the CCSC has ever conducted and Hayco believes this can also serve as a solution to the ongoing dilemma of Team Cebu City (TCC) with regard to the scarcity of top-caliber swimmers.

“We believe this can be a big help in identifying talents who can be trained to become top swimmers. These athletes will be the ones who can produce medals. However, our main goal is to transform the lives of the kids through sports, especially those from the impoverished area. Winning a medal is a bonus,” said Hayco.

Only 24 out of the 48 kids attended last Friday’s orientation and launching because the other kids have not provided the parents’ consent that was required of them.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 08, 2015.












Beginning her career as a Photojournalist at The Freeman Newspaper/Philippine Star from 2000 to 2007, she then served as an Accounts Manager from 2007 to 2008. Driven by a passion for sports, she transitioned to a Sportswriter role at CDN and expanded into news writing for Inquirer Visayas. From 2010 to 2015, she honed her skills as a Sportswriter at Sunstar Cebu, after which she took the initiative to launch her own

Iste Sesante Leopoldo

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