TAGUM City, Davao – Francis Hidalgo may have helped win a gold for Cebu City in the team tennis event of the recently concluded 2016 Batang Pinoy, but he admitted one more prize he wished to have is to get back in school.
Hidalgo, who teamed up with Russel Sero to place third in the doubles individual division ruled by Zamboanga del Sur, is heading back to Cebu to continue as a tennis trainer at the Citigreen Resort where he earns P300 an hour. But the self-confessed Andy Murray fan would rather be in a classroom to finish his studies, which was derailed due to a miscellaneous fee amounting to P13,000.
As a player of University of Visayas (UV) Pardo Campus tennis team, Hidalgo had been enjoying free education from 2013 but had to skip school this year due to the fee.
"Kailangan daw talaga bayaran sabi ng school," said the 16-year-old Hidalgo, who was clueless as to why he had to pay such a hefty fee. "Sa UV main kasi P300 lang binabayaran."
Even his coach, who was shocked upon learning about it, couldn't do anything when sought for help. And when things really went downhill between both parties, the 2013 Palarong Pambansa champ decided to just leave school and spend the last four months as a trainer. After all, he couldn't afford the amount he was asked to pay for the first time in his varsity life.
"Na-shock yung coach namin. Sabi niya bigyan ko lang daw ng lineup. Kinabukasan di pa rin kami binigyan ng school. Kaya umalis na lang ako," he said.
Hidalgo, though, is not closing his doors on the possibility of playing for another school. He’s not turning back on his tennis dream, which, Hidalgo believes, is still the key to a bigger prize, free education.
"Syempre gusto ko ring makabalik sa school," said the lanky lad.