BANTAY, Ilocos Sur — For many aspiring athletes, basketball is a way out of poverty.
Cagayan Valley’s Algin Gomez, gold medalist in the 2018 Palarong Pambansa, is taking the road less traveled.
Standing at 5-foot-9, Gomez admits to be a decent basketball player, at times playing center in pickup games like his favorite cager, four-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo.
But Gomez, being a long jumper, said his parents and coaches never encouraged him to play basketball.
“Minsan lang po pero pinapagalitan ako,” said Gomez, when asked if he plays basketball. “Baka ma-injure daw ako.”
It is, however, in athletics that Gomez, whose father is a tricycle driver and mother a housewife, sees himself helping his family get out of poverty, through a college scholarship where he can earn an opportunity for quality education.
”Sila Papa at Mama ko (ang inspirasyon ko). Para mai-ahon ko sila sa kahirapan. Para hindi na sila mahirapan kapag nag-college ako,” he said.
The 17-year-old from Aparri, Cagayan won the secondary boys long jump with a leap of 6.96 meters in the 61st Palaro at the President Elpidio Quirino Stadium. Gomez bested his performance last year in which he won a bronze medal in Antique.
The Far East National High School standout admitted he has received offers from several schools in Metro Manila, among them University of the Philippines, Perpetual Help, and University of the East.
But Gomez will wait until college before moving to the Big City as he still enjoys playing for Cagayan Valley.
“Kapag college na lang po,” said the Grade 11 student. “Gusto ko po maglaro sa region namin.”
Gomez still has two events — the high jump where he is the defending champion and the 4x100-meter relay — and he vowed to do his best to complete a golden treble.
“Kakayanin ko po,” said Gomez.