Saturday, December 5, 2009

Provincial Meet

Sports are HUGE in the Philippines. Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao is basically the greatest thing since white rice. Oh did you hear? He is running for Congress! Yes, I’m serious. Anyways, the people here take sports so seriously that student athletes have been excused from school for the past two weeks to train for the provincial meets. A typical day for those who are training begins at 4:30am with a morning jog through the mountains. There are several sports in which to participate including: Archery, Arnis (stick fighting), Gymnastics, Taekwondo, Tennis, Track & Field, Volleyball, Baseball, Softball, Chess, Boxing, Ping Pong, Basketball, Sepak Takraw (A Filipino sport which combines hacky sack and volleyball with a rotund ball), Badminton, and Swimming! For the past 3 months I have been spending my saturdays training 31 swimmers from Bontoc, Sabangan, Sadanga, and Tadian, all nearby municipalities. Finally the time has come for them to compete in the provincial meets! They are competing not only for medals, but for a place in the Cordillera Administrative Region Athletic Association meet this coming February. For the past three days I have been spending the majority of my time with them. On Sunday more than 2,000 athletes and coaches walked in a parade and gathered for the opening ceremony in the municipality of Bauko. I opted to walk with the athletes from Besao so that I did not choose between the different districts that my swimmers come from. My walking partner ended up being the mayor of Besao.My little brothers Merv and Fengag Alawas (the Bishop’s sons) are also attending the meet. They are both competing in tennis. I was able to catch one of Merv’s games after the parade! He won 8 to 1. I was so proud.My swimmers, co-coaches, and I are having a blast together at the pool. It brings me back to those summer nights as a kid playing around and waiting for hours for our chance to show our speed in the water. Melanie West Goes…Provincial Meet


  1. I think you are AMAZING! I love you Mel!

  2. Bet you never thought you'd be coaching swimming in the Philippines after all those summer's in my grandma's pool.... glad you are enjoying this!!! Sounds like a lot of fun!! Love, Jen

  3. Melanie- it is so great to hear about all your adventures. You are doing great work! We are all proud of you and we send our love
    Steve, Jane, Mags,
    Ellie, and Lucky

  4. Hi Melanie--

    My Aunt Helen (Mousikiotis) from Chicago sent me a print out of your blog and an opportunity to find out a bit more about another branch of the Jianokopolis tree. My dad, who changed his last name to Johns in the 1940s is your grandfather's brother. He's 94 and still living in Georgia with my mom. I can't wait to send him your blog and see if any of the photos jog his memories--he was in the Phillipines through most of WWII. You never know what will inspire a new story...and I'm trying to gather as many from mom and dad as possible so my lads have as strong a connection to their grandparents as possible. Living here in Seattle, they don't have as much regular contact with my parents as I'd like.

    Thanks for the chance to find out about another member of the Jianakopolis clan. I'm really enjoying your posts. You seem to be getting more and more comfortable with Fillipino culture and language with each writing. It seems as if you've absolutely immersed yourself, which is truly the only way to experience our diverse world. Congratulations on your wonderful adventure.