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    How a stroll in the park with grandpa changed the life of Caloy Yulo

    Oct 21, 2019
    PHOTO: AP

    WONDERING where Caloy Yulo got his grace and elegance on the floor exercise mat?

    It's from dad.

    While no one among his parents took up gymnastics, Yulo’s father used to be into street dancing, which more or less explained the grace and flexibility that made the 19-year-old athlete a world champion today.

    “Yung father niya street dancer dati nung kabinataan niya,” said Yulo’s mother Angelica. “Until now kaya niyang mag-backflip, kaya niyang mag-back handspring at kaya niya ring mag-full twist.”

    Caloy’s grandfather, Rodrigo Frisco, bared Yulo's dad even had a dance group back then which joined contests and performed in town fiestas.

    “Pero hindi naman (professionally), pansarili lang. Sumasali-sali sa contest, kahit paano nananalo naman,” he said.

    “Nagbe-breakdancing yan noon. Siguro doon niya (Caloy) namana yung flexibility niya.”

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    The young Yulo, according to his grandfather, already showed a knack for dancing when he was a kid, although he hardly flaunted it by the time he became an adult.

    “Nagsa-sayaw yan dati. Nung maliit 'yan nagsasayaw siya sa school, pero nung Grade 6 hanggang high school, medyo naging mahiyain na,” said Mang Rodrigo.

    Caloy’s grandfather unwittingly led the kid to gymnastics.

    As the one who mostly took care of Caloy growing up, Rodrigo would often take Caloy and his cousins and neighbors for a stroll along Leveriza St. where the family lives, as well as the nearby Paraiso ng Batang Maynila and the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.

    It was during one of their visits to the park just across the Manila Zoo that Yulo was introduced to gymnastics.

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    “One time may lumapit sa amin na gymnast and may kaibigan din siya na nagturo sa amin. Tapos sinabi nila, bakit hindi kami sumali ng gymnastics doon sa may Rizal (Memorial Complex),” he said.

    They showed up at the gymnastics gym inside the vast Rizal Memorial Sports Complex the following day, all 16 of them of different ages, with Caloy and his cousin among the youngest at age seven.

    It took a while before they were allowed use of the facilities.

    “Mga outsiders kasi kami. Ang dudungis pa namin noon,” Caloy recalled.

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      But as days and weeks passed, one by one members of the group began to abandon their desire to become gymnasts.

      Not Caloy.

      “Everyday na pumupunta kami, nababawasan kami ng isa. Kasi yung mga magulang nila ayaw din silang payagan kasi wala rin naman daw mapapala,” he said.

      Good thing, Caloy’s parents supported his passion.

      “Pinush ko na rin kasi kaysa tumambay lang sa labas,” said Angelica.

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      The Yulo matriarch likewise hoped that through gymnastics, Caloy would be able to get a proper education when he grows up.

      “Ang dream lang po ay maka-graduate si Caloy pagdating ng college. Siyempre nababalitaan namin na pag athlete ka may chance kang makapag-aral at grumaduate. And siyempre kapos naman kami sa financial and hindi namin kaya, so yun na lang ang naging way namin.”

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      Now Caloy is not the only one in the family involved in gymnastics. His brother Eldrew is now with the Gymnastics Association of the Philippines (GAP) under President Cynthia Carrion while sister Issa is with private club Alpha Gymnastics of the Philippines.

      “Yes si Caloy ang nag-inspire sa kanila na mag-gymnastics,” said Angelica.

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      PHOTO: AP
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