It’s refreshing to see how the prospect of playing basketball brightens up the faces of Aeta kids. And to learn the fundamentals of basketball from Meralco Bolts head coach Ryan Gregorio himself, what can be more thrilling than that?
Recently, One Meralco Foundation (OMF) brought inspiration to the 130 boys and girls of the Aeta Children’s Home in Castillejos, Zambales through the Meralco Basketboys Program in a workshop that also taught them the values of leadership, teamwork and excellence.
The shelter, which houses six- to 18-year-old Aetas from various indigenous Mount Pinatubo villages, was selected as the recipient of the sports and youth development initiative by OMF, the Meralco Sports and Youth Advocacy office and the Meralco Bolts PBA team.
The program is made up of a basketball clinic and a values integration session for the youth. It serves as an opportunity to develop the childrenís basketball skills and understanding of values such as leadership, teamwork, excellence and a winning attitude. To date, 622 individuals have been trained under program.
Gregorio, who also heads Meralco’s Sports and Youth Advocacy office, was glad that his group was able to reach out to the Aeta youth and show how basketball can unite everyone.
“Punong-puno ng saya ang aking puso sa araw na ito at nabigyan kami ng oportunidad na ibahagi ang aming kaalaman sa basketball. Iba-iba ang kulay ng ating balat, ang taas ng ating mga tindig, at and ang uri ng ating mga buhok ngunit naniniwala akong pare-pareho tayong may itinatagong galing,” he said.
After intently listening to Gregorio’s lecture on the essential values of discipline, sacrifice, teamwork accountability and right mental attitude collectively known as the D-STAR values, the kids gamely participated in the warm-up and drills prepared for them on that day.
“When the kids learned that they would be part of this program, they were very thrilled and were counting the days until the actual day of the program,” said Pastor Wilson Ladringan, the executive director of the Aeta home.
“I myself was very happy and thankful to know that we were chosen for this initiative. Nakakataba rin ng puso na ang mga kapwa Pilipino ang tumutulong sa kanilang kapwa Pilipino,” he added.
One of the Aeta beneficiaries, 17-year-old Jasmin, was thankful that she learned more than basketball from the session that Gregorio held as part of OMFís youth and sports advocacy.
“Dati nakakaranas ako ng panunukso pero tinitibayan ko na lang ang loob ko. Malaking tulong ang programang ito sa akin dahil sa mga values na natutunan ko na magsisilbing gabay para maabot ko ang mga pangarap ko. Hindi namin akalain na mapipili kami para sa programang ito. Maramang salamat sa One Meralco Foundation,” she said.
Meralco chief CSR officer and OMF president Jeffrey O. Tarayao expressed the belief that sports intensifies the Aeta children’s hopeful spirit and gives them the necessary positive and strong attitude to live their dreams.
“Through this Basketboys program, we hope to provide them with a boost to uplift their conditions and build their confidence through skills development and values formation,” he said.
It’s playing basketball that gives joy to these young Aetas and it is in applying the game’s basic lessons and values to the bigger game of life that they are able to emerge winners in both.