By Al S. Mendoza
YUKA Saso, Jerwin Ancajas and Ana Patricia Non are Filipino heroes sprouting amid the pandemic.
Saso and Ancajas did their thing in sports. Non in socio-economic sphere.
Saso and Ancajas had put the country in the world map again. Non in the nation’s consciousness.
By finishing tied for sixth in last week’s Lotte Golf Cup in Oahu, Hawaii, Saso, a Fil-Japanese from Bulacan, barged into the LPGA world rankings with a bang.
Planted into the tournament as a mere sponsor’s exemption, Saso even led in the first and second rounds with a brilliant pair of 64s.
No rookie in the LPGA, the world’s toughest in women’s golf, has ever achieved that.
Never mind that Saso slowed down with finishing rounds of 71-70 to finish 9 shots behind Lydia Ko, the former Korean-born child prodigy from New Zealand.
Arriving in the Lotte event with a final-round 62 in another tournament she won the week before, Ko routed the star-studded field in Hawaii by firing closing rounds of 65-65, ending her three-year slump since her last victory in the Mediheal Championship on April 29, 2018.
Ko, 23, is on a roll, winning by 7 strokes at the Kapolei Golf Club as she went a magnificent 38-under in her last 90 holes, while yielding just one bogey in her last 100 holes.
If that’s not phenomenal, what is?
But Saso, just 19, had her own share of the spotlight, her Top 10 finish netting her a whopping P2.6 million to go with her cash windfalls in the Japan Circuit from two victories last year, in the process earning her the country’s 2020 Athlete of the Year award.
Ancajas joined Saso up there after successfully defending his world junior IBF featherweight crown for the ninth time against Jonathan Rodriguez of Mexico in Unscansville, Connecticut, USA, last week.
His unanimous decision triumph gave Ancajas his 33rd win against only one defeat, including 22 knockouts.
That’s not something to be sneezed at, considering the rigors that Ancajas had to go through the health crisis that had sidelined him since December 2019.
But while Saso and Ancajas had so abundantly brought pride and honor to the country with their exploits overseas, Non did her thing in a totally different setting.
Indeed, Saso and Ancajas reaped honors on the world sporting stage but for Non, her arena of battle was the humble street.
Non erected a victorious platform by setting up, quietly and without fanfare and minus the klieg lights, a sort of a sari-sari store where food and other household needs are given away: for free.
She called it the Community Pantry, where anyone young or old, rich or poor, can pick any stuff to bring home without paying anything.
This single spark has now blossomed to 371 pantries nationwide—and counting.
To be sure, all the giveaways are donations from kindred souls—faceless and nameless.
There’s only one rule: Take only what you need so that others may also gain from Non’s blessing.
While Saso and Ancajas had stashed away cash bonanzas with their overseas triumphs, Non had not even earned a single centavo. Never.
But already, Non is getting showered with plaudits and applause from a nation too grateful for one simple person’s love for humanity. Priceless.
Sadly, one military officer, with a mind as fractured as Hitler’s brain, dislikes Non’s Samaritan ways.
He can go to hell.
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