TAGUM City, Davao - It was unlikely for a self-confessed "kikay" like Ma. Dessa delos Santos to aspire to become a weightlifter.
But her desire to travel prompted her to start lifting weights, just like dad.
Sooner rather than later, it indeed allowed her to do what she wanted while also collecting medals in major competitions.
The latest in the haul of the Zamboanga City gem was a gold in the girls' 13-17 58-kg in the 2016 Batang Pinoy at the Laureta National High School, where she outclassed Renee Lao of Mandaue and Cebu City Cheryl Cinco.
"Pangarap ko rin na every travel ko, manalo. Pati manalo sa Olympics," the 17-year-old Delos Santos, coming off a silver finish in the Asian Youth Junior championship in Tokyo last November 12, told SPIN.ph.
The Grade 11 student of Universidad de Zamboanga recalled how she tried to ignore her parents whenever they urged her to play the sport the whole family loves.
Coming from a family of top-caliber weightlifters, Delos Santos veered away from expectations and tried taekwondo and dancesport instead.
In the end, the granddaughter of Olympian Samuel Alejada realized she couldn't escape her destiny.
"Hindi ko po talaga gusto nung una. After ilang months, nainggit ako sa iba kasi travel sila ng travel while ako sa bahay nakaano lang so nagsali na lang ako," said Delos Santos, who competed in the Olympic Qualifier early this year together with her "ate" and Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz, who is also a Zamboanga City native.
"Two sports (taekwondo and dancesport) po sinalihan ko pero wala dun yung luck ko. Pero di po ako para dun. Andito yung talent ko."
And like most, if not all, young weightlifters, Delos Santos draws inspiration from Diaz, the first Filipina athlete to win a medal in the quadrennial showpiece.
At the same time, she wants to top that as well.
"Kung pwede lampasan po, kung kaya ko," she said with a smile.