Viva Eala! Viva Obiena! Viva Filipinas!

By September 18, 2022Sports Eye

By Jesus A. Garcia Jr.


VIVA is a Spanish word that literally means ‘long live’ in English. Some Latino countries say “Viva” to congratulate somebody for an achievement, some as a birthday greeting. I learned this when I was a fourth-year high school student at Jackson High School (now called Olongapo City National High School) during my Spanish class. Admittedly, I was interested to learn more Spanish words being a son of a Mexican hombre, the late Jesus Rivera Garcia, Sr., also a boxing enthusiast like me. Also, because Pharr, Texas, my dad’s hometown, where I migrated on April 19, 1978, is just about six kilometers away from Reynosa, Mexico, the first town of Mexico after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. I’d been there before with my father and all my relatives there spoke Mexican-Spanish every time they conversed with each other. They only spoke in English when they had to talk to me. Since I had two Spanish dictionaries at home, naturally I managed to understand some of their words.

But remember, Philippine history says that our nation was colonized by Spain for 376 years and that also explains why we have some Spanish words in our dialects and in our Pilipino language. In fact, in Zamboanga City, the residents there speak in Chavacano, a Spanish influenced language with local origin.

In my case, I always use ‘viva’ to praise an athlete, for doing a heroic deed for our country or our province. And today our two new sports heroes, lawn tennis sensation Alexandra “Alex” Eala who just won the prestigious U.S. Open junior division last September 12 held at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City, and Filipino pole vault standout Ernest James (EJ) Obiena who already harvested five gold medals in seven European competitions in preparation for the world most prestigious sporting event, the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. I have no doubt that the two, especially the youthful Quezon City-born Eala, will deliver more laurels for our country. The beautiful five-foot-nine lass Eala is the first ever Pinay to win a Grand Slam title after dominating her co-finalist Lucie Havlickova in two sets, 6-2, 6-4. What was more amazing was she never lost a single set against her six foes. That’s a record.

But I feel that the left-handed Eala is still young and needs to develop more skills to dominate the world’s prestigious senior division competitions like the stiffer Wimbledon Open, French Open, Australian Open, U.S. Open, to name some. The International Tennis Federation calls winning these tournaments as “Grand Slam”.

Her statement “Ang panalo kong ito, ay panalo nating lahat,” after receiving her championship trophy was met with a thunderous applause from the spectators, especially from the Filipinos. I sincerely appreciate her statement because she’s proud of her heritage, and happy to dedicate her triumph to us.

Then last September 12, our other Olympic Games hope, Obiena, won his fifth gold medal by topping the international event called “Golden Fly” held at Schaan, Leichtenstein. The 5’11” Tondo, Manila- born Obiena also conquered the more prestigious Memorial Van Damme international event held in Brussels, Belgium by beating the world record holder and Olympic champion Armand Duplantis of Sweden. Obiena is the Asian record owner with a leap of 5.94 meters he established in Eugene, Oregon last July. He’s now ranked number three in the world.

What more I can say for the two, but to congratulate them and wish them more success : “Viva Eala!”, “Viva Obiena!”, and “Viva Filipinas!

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return. GENESIS 3: 19

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