LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – It is a rare occurence for Filipino children to live independently from their parents, particularly when they are still young teenagers.
That's the reality for Chester Gio Pabualan, who endures being away from his parents for the love of football and for a better future, not only for him but for his parents as well.
The midfielder hails from Bukidnon but plays for NCR as he is a football scholar of 6-time UAAP football champion Far Eastern University. Studying in Manila means he only gets to spend short periods of time with his family such as a few days during the Christmas holidays and the summer.
“Makamingaw lang pero I would sacrifice para pag ako na ang mo asenso ako nasad motabang nila (I would miss them but I would sacrifice so if I succeed, it would be my turn to help them),” said Pabualan, his parents' only son.
Pabualan, who was named as the Best Striker and Best Midfielder in the current UAAP season, admitted to crying whenever he misses his parents but he eventually managed to cope with his longing.
“To not miss my parents, I offer every training and my academics to them. I treat my coach and teachers as my second parents since I cannot avoid missing them (parents) since I am an only child.”
The first time that Pabualan spent a week away from his parents was when his team was sent to Indonesia for a competition. He was 11 years old then. Next was when he was picked for the Little Azkals U14 which spent summers in a training camp in Italy and Cebu. The same team also saw action in international tournaments in Kota Kinabalu and Japan.
His sacrifices have been fruitful so far as not only does he get to study in one of the top universities of the country but he also got a chance to represent the country.
"Me and my parents only get to talk sometimes. They are also busy with their work. Every time I pray at night or any time, I always include them," he shared.
Pabualan looks forward to going home this summer as whatever little time they spend together is always special. Sometimes he wishes for a little sister so his parents will have someone with them in Bukidnon.
"I keep asking them for a sister," he said. "Maybe God wants to challenge me to be alone, to see if I can do it."
"Every game I play, I always offer it to my parents. I will never forget them because if not for them, I would not be here," he added.
Photo by Roy Secretario/Rappler
Pabualan started playing football at the age of 7 years old. Although his father and uncle play the sport, he came to love football on his own through his Physical Education classes. Aside from enjoying the sport, Pabualan says that he is able to apply the discipline he learns from it to his everyday routine.
“Sa pagmata ug sayo, tunga sa training on time, sa pagbalance sa training ug studies (In waking up early, showing up on time for trainings, in balancing training with my studies),” Pabualan said.
This young footballer looks up to Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil and hopes to continue representing the Philippines in international competitions.
“I want to be able to go to other countries and meet football stars such as Zinedine Zidane, Leo Messi and Ronaldo.”
For now, his fulfillment comes in the form of helping his adoptive region capture Palaro gold.
"Well, finally! After two years we finally got the championship. We prepared for it for how many months. All our sacrifices paid off," he said.
"During the Holy Week, we continued training for it so we offer our championship and our crown to God. He is the one who helped us through the difficulties. We never gave up until the last whistle. Without Master Kim (FEU coach), we wouldn’t have fought strongly. We believed that we could get it.” – Rappler.com
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