THE PHILIPPINE Paralympic contingent in Tokyo 2020 may have gone home without a medal, but their gallant battle will doubtless inspire other athletes — able-bodied or otherwise — in the years to come.
In a trio of short films produced by the Japan Foundation Manila, the spotlight is once again trained on three of these sports heroes: swimmer Gary Bejino, wheelchair racer Jerrold Mangliwan, and athletics powerhouse Jeanette Aceveda.
Entitled Sulong, this series hopes to show off a different, more angas side to these para athletes.
“It was important for us to show the athlete’s ‘aura of cool’ or astig so that we create a paradigm shift,” said Japan Foundation Manila project officer Miguel Acosta in an interview with CNN Philippines.
“One athlete mentioned that people see them as kinakaawaan, so we instead want to show that they are strong, fast, and skillful. When people perceive something as cool, there’s a kind of aspiration and acceptance that goes hand in hand with it.”
How to watch ‘Sulong’ short films on Paralympians
The films are directed by Al Amin, with the athletes wearing eye-catching black-and-gray kit created by fashion designer Jerome Lorico.
The series will be aired in CNN on April 9, Saturday, after Sports Desk Weekend, but you can already watch each episode on YouTube.
Jeanette Aceveda, who suffers from retinitis pigmentosa, catapulted to fame with three gold medals in 2013 Asean Para Games. In Tokyo, a diagnosis of COVID-19 rendered her ineligible to play.
Gary Bejino, who had his left leg and right arm amputated because of a childhood accident, competed in multiple events in the Tokyo Paralympics, but was unable to place in the final.
Jerrold Mangliwan, who was hit by polio at an early age, was the PH team’s flagbearer, and scored a personal best in the men’s 400m-T52. However, a lane infringement call ruled him out of the finals.
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