“I need the money…I need to buy vitamins”

“Yes, I’m a candidate for ejection from the Philippine team,” said the four-time champion Martes, the youngest Milo winner at 21 years old in 1999. “I’ll just talk to them and explain. I need the money. I’m having laser therapy for my old injuries and I need to buy vitamins.” (Note: Copied from news report at www.inquirer.net)

These were the exact words from the mouth of Christabel Martes, Lady Champion of the 33rd MILO Marathon FINALS held last Sunday, for her reason why she ran and finished the race despite an strict memorandum from PATAFA (Philippine Amateur Track & Field Assosiation) that National Pool Athletes are restricted from running more than a distance of 10K competitive Road Races at least 3 months before an International Games/Competition Meet. The reason for this memo is to make sure that our National Athletes do not divert themselves to their training program in order for them to “peak” during the competition period/date and at the same time, prevent them from becoming injured.

In the reaction of the PATAFA officials, as published in the news, Martes will be definitely removed from the list of National Athletes slated to be included in this coming Southeast Asian Games which will be held on the first week of December 2009 in Laos. For winning a cash prize of Seventy-Five Thousand Pesos (P 75,000)  or equivalent to $ 1,595.00 in the MILO Marathon FINALS, her chance of winning the Gold Medal in Marathon in the ASEAN Games is gone!

 Money versus Pride For the Country? Present Reality of our Athletes versus Present Situation of our Sports Excellence Program?

Now, let us try to discuss the present condition of our National Athletes basing from the title of this post/comments from Christabel Martes.

It appears that our National Athletes are not properly or adequately supported by our Sports Federation or the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC). As per PSC’s guidance, for an Athlete who won Medal/s (Gold, Silver, or Bronze) in the previous ASEAN Games and other International Competition Events and presently training to compete in an International Games, he/she receives a monthly support of   Fifteen Thousand Pesos (P 15,000)  or $ 320.00 inclusive of food, vitamins, training needs, and stipend. While on training, with the guidance of their coach, they are left on their own and stay/live in Sports Facilities being managed by PSC. It is also concluded that the athletes had to deal with their own injuries and have to get the services of professionals to cure them for a considerable fee. Which means that our Sports Support Services (Sports Medicine, Nutrition, Sports Psychology, etc) are lacking! In short, 15K Pesos is nothing if we want our athletes to be “world-class”. The same amount of money is equivalent to a ONE-DAY MEAL for Michael Phelps, I guess!

For a potential medal placer and a “newbie” in the National Pool of Athletes, he/she receives a monthly stipend of Six Thousand Pesos (P 6,000) or $ 128.00. This is translated to P 200.00 per day meal for the athlete and he/she could not even buy vitamins and sports drinks for his hydration & electrolyte resplenishment needs during his training. And if he/she wants to compete in weekend road races, he/she is selective as to where he/she will compete because the registration fee will be deducted from this amount of money. But our athletes are “brave warriors” because they have to risk in investing their training money to weekend road races that have Cash as Major Prizes for the Top Finishers! If they loss and don’t get any cash prize, the more that they will train harder but their training money is now draining and they are forced to spend their money to their barest needs. In essence, our athletes are on “survival” mode!

This situation is not only applicable to our runners but to all our athletes in other sports!

Now, you know already why our runners in our National Pool of Athletes are only good for our local Road Races with Cash Prizes, not for the ASEAN Games, not for the ASIAN Games, and never for the OLYMPIC Games!


26 thoughts on ““I need the money…I need to buy vitamins”

  1. therunningninja

    Agree with your sentiment sir Jovie. I just had a light talk with Cresencio Sabal (42km winner) kanina at the oval and he was telling me the kind of support PSC is offering to our national atheletes is very small and he won’t be surprised if more like him and Martes will follow.

    I hope this is a wake up call for PCS organizing commitee. World class atheletes need world-class attention. Si Michael Phelps nga consumes 12,000 calories when he trains! His government obcourse handles all of it. Tapos sten php15k lang a month…what a pity


    1. kingofpots

      sam, we are only aware on the issues of sports excellence when we participate in international competitions like ASEAN Games, ASIAN Games, and Olympic Games. and if we don’t get any medals, we blame EVERYBODY and this a chance for people to “grandstand” on the said issue by making so many recommendations but not doing any action! very sad…


  2. Parkie

    I first read about this story yesterday in Inquirer and I was absolutely flabbergasted. ‘Made me want to run all the way to the PSC office and snap the neck of whoever is heading it.

    I really can’t believe that our athletes have to join local road races so they can get themselves treatment and vitamins! ‘Really unacceptable.



  3. Marga

    Aren’t they entitled to free therapy?! Shouldn’t National Team members have the privilege of having a sports doctor attending to their needs for free?


    1. kingofpots

      i don’t know if the psc commissioners are all former athletes. if they were athletes, then they should know what it takes to be one.


  4. Pingback: “I need the money…I need to buy vitamins” | The Association of Southeast Asian Nations

  5. I am rather curious where PSC officials based their “restriction” that any member of our National Team should not run a competitive road race beyond 10k before SEA Games. I’d like to know the scientific basis for it and if there is one, it is perhaps 40 years old (obsolete) when runners and coaches did not know any better!

    Our athletes cannot compete well in international races not because they lack talent but because they need the support and good training coaches. Talent is not enough. Nutrition and knowledge are equally critical. If I was a member of our national team, I’d rather be on my own and be happy than miserable. After all, our runners do have their own destiny to follow.

    Another thing, look at Terrence Mahon (also Alberto Salazar as the new coach for Dathan Ritzenhein) the coach for Ryan Hall, Deena Kastor, et.al. who said in substance that he trains his atheletes based on how they should be trained. This means personal training inputs not some mass or general training program. Individuality is the key because at the end of the day, we are all an experiment of one and are different from each other.

    If things will not change, we will never see the day when our runner will win a major international race…unless private support will come in.


    1. kingofpots

      atty jon, amen! you are right. private support? i have doubts on that to our long distance elite runners. i don’t know of any private individual or company who is supporting all out for the training of our elite athletes for international exposure. they are just fond of offering cash rewards to the medalists and pay them for endorsements if they are already world champions.


  6. elkyoshi

    This is one sad story indeed! While being a national athlete of course entails the responsibility of obeying rules and regulations set by PSC, it is just sad that it had to come to this.

    I hope it’s not a case of using carrot or stick and that neither the athlete nor glory for the country suffers in the end.


  7. greencursor

    this is the story for most of our elite athletes. sports officials expect them to train rigidly and to perform well but do not provide them financial support. we do not even have a good grassroots program for athletics and yet, we are letting these talents go to waste because of the pride of our sports officials, who really cannot boast of any noteworthy achievements except maybe, for sending the biggest delegation (outnumbering the athletes) in sports competitions abroad. patafa must not be too harsh on martes. pride and arrogance does not deserve a place in Philippine sports. Philippine sports has far too many problems at the moment that it cannot afford to create new ones. a simple, honest-to-goodness dialogue will easily solve this.


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  10. theroadmarker

    i can’t imagine that they couldn’t provide even the basic necessities for our athletes. it should be their priority. indeed, the filipino athlete’s chance in the international scene will just be a dream. sad but true…



  11. oneyeartotri

    I remember reading an article before where a Filipino athlete who won in an international got to receive his cash prize six months (one year pa nga ata) after winning the competition. How can you expect our athletes to be motivated in competing in these events!!

    Sad but true, that the ugly face of politics and greed has crept into the very values of our sports officials. I remember during the Marcos era they have this Gintong Alay project (or something like that) that produced the likes of Lydia de Vega and Elma Muros. Whatever happened to that project??? Besides, why do our sports officials always focus on the glamour events i.e. basketball, boxing, etc. when in fact the Filipino athlete can excel in other sports such as track & field, football, badminton, etc. And what’s irritating as well is that our sports officials have to rely on private/business support to sustain its programs and then keep the bragging rights if they win and blame sponsors or others if they fail. What a pity!

    I hope that 2010 would bring in a fresh start for the country’s sports program by having leaders who are truly passionate about the welfare of our athletes.


    1. kingofpots

      gintong alay? it was abolished by former president aquino and replaced it with PSC. there is too much politics among our sports leaders & authorities.


  12. Dear BR – A very revealing post that I pray our running community would pick-up and do something about. Further, I hope you do also follow-up a post on another issue that not only are our athletes miserably taken cared of but on the issue of “sports politcs” that unless you know who to “kiss” your chances of landing as a national athlete is hanging on the balance and should you belong or be identified to opposing camp then its goodbye joe for you.


    1. kingofpots

      yes, that is true. there is “favoritism” among the athletes & coaches. in addition, the sports federations are not transparent and accountable to the funds they are receiving from the government or private entities.


  13. gingerbreadrunning

    Read it on the newspaper , I couldn’t believe it either. Shouldn’t they be rewarding athletes who perform on a consistently high level rather than persecute them? Geez.


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