TOKYO – He bulldozed his way through competition like a Tokyo bullet train. He moved like a ninja on stealth mode, fought his foes like Naruto Uzumaki and nearly reached the summit of Mt. Fuji with his jaeger skills.
Carlo Paalam embodied many things Japanese in his nearly monthlong stint in the Tokyo Olympics, but he’s genuinely Pinoy as adobo, the town fiesta boxing tournaments where he used to participate in, the P50 bills he earns from scavenging and the unflinching love for family, country and God.
The few times Carlo talked to Filipino scribes in Tokyo, words like family, God, Pilipinas, kababayan, puso, laban fill up his sentences.
In a two-minute interview for instance, he even mentions “Panginoon” four times.
“Unang-una, thank you sa Panginoon sa pagbibigay ng lakas sa akin at naabot ko ang pangarap ko.
“Hindi ako masyadong nae-expose sa media kasi nasa ibaba pa lang ako. Tapos bigla na lang ipinagkaloob ito ng Panginoon sa akin.
“Kung ano po ang ibigay ng Panginoon sa akin sa Paris po soon, itutuloy ko po ang training ko para makamit po ‘yung gintong medalya. Hindi man natin hawak ang kapalaran, pero gagawin ko po ang lahat.
“Nagpapasalamat po talaga ako sa Panginoon kasi nabago po ang buhay ko dahil dito sa medalya na ‘to. Maraming maraming salamat!”
This was a man so grateful of his Tokyo Olympics’ silver medal accomplishment, he never fails to give back all the glory to God, even though he fell short.
Carlo prayed for gold, but only received silver after yielding a 1-4 split decision to Britain’s 2020 Best Boxer awardee in Galal Yafai. Deep inside, the 23-year-old “bunso” of the Philippine boxing team, knows the Olympic gold will happen, in God’s own time.
“First time kong nakalaro ng Olympics sa ganitong edad ko. Halos lahat ng mga magagaling nandito, mga second-time Olympian, mga ilang taon nang naging Olympian, ako papasok pa lang,” said Carlo, impliedly indicating the world ain’t seen nothing yet from this man on a mission.
Carlo may have matched the silver-medal feat of teammate Nesthy Petecio here in Tokyo, and the runner-up feats of Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco in the 1996 Atlanta Olympiad and Anthony Villanueva in the 1964 edition, also in this Japanese capital.
But he isn’t done yet, not until he wins in Paris and Los Angeles. Because like Pokemon on the prowl, Carlo’s gotta catch ‘em all.