(Ed. Note: Entrevista con Nata. In this section, our correspondent Nathaniel Sisma Villaluna will share with us his creamy and delectable stories, 100 % inspiring yet zero in fat.)
Elmer and his son, who is also his student in Taekwondo
“I shall be a champion of justice and freedom. I shall build a better and more peaceful world.”
These are the last two phrases that best sum up the Taekwondo student’s oath, which Elmar wishes to inculcate to his learners.
When I went to visit the gym where Elmar holds his Taekwondo lessons, the class was over. Instead of seeing them in action, all I saw was about twenty kids milling around an adult figure outside the gym. After what seemed to be endless exchanges of goodbyes, at last, his students wished Elmar a good weekend and bade farewell.
When we finally sat down for the interview, Elmar’s voice juggled from modest to serious to excited and brimming with pride.
Thirty-six-year-old Batangueño Elmar Dimayuga, started learning Taekwondo when he was only 11 years old.
“Fan ako ni Jackie Chan noong bata pa ako. Pero sa atin kasi pag sinasabing martial arts, Karate agad ang naiisip.¨
A graduate of BS Marine Transportation at the Liceum of Batangas, he became a member of the Philippine Taekwondo Federation where he got his second dan.
Even though he was already joining competitions in Manila and winning medals, the highest of which was a gold, Elmar forewent the chance to compete with the national team when he decided to work for a Greek-owned cargo ship bound for Germany. His Taekwondo days took a backseat.
In 1999, his mom invited him to take a holiday in Barcelona, Spain. He eventually stayed after meeting his wife that same year. He went back to giving Taekwondo lessons to Pinoy kids for five months. This didn’t take long however, because he accepted a job at Otto Sylt along Rambla de Cataluña. Once again, Taekwondo took a backseat. This time, for a longer time.
But little did he know that the art of kicking and punching would never leave him even it was already ages since the last time he gave taekwondo classes. One day, when he was passing by MACBA (Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona), he saw a lot of newly-arrived Pinoy kids hanging outside the place.
“Marami akong nakitang bagong dating. Naisip ko ano kaya kung ipagpatuloy ko uli magbigay ng classes.”
Equipped with his instructor certificates issued in the Philippines and by KUKKIWON in Korea, plus his experience as an assistant instructor in Manila and his past trainings, Elmar started scouting for a place to hold his classes. He found one: the San Pau gym on calle San Pau. On March 15, 2009, he officially opened his school with his first ten students.
From ten, the number of students swelled to more than 70; with 45 kids from six to 13 years old and 35 bigger kids and adults from fourteen years old and above. Of which, the youngest is six years old and the oldest is 22.
“Passion eh, pag gusto mo, walang mahirap. Pero sa totoo mahirap talaga. It takes a lot of patience. Mahilig ako sa bata. I have a son. Student ko din.”
“I don’t need a lot of students. Kahit lima or sampu na sumusunod, okay lang kesa sa 100 na students na hindi sumusunod. Priority ko ang mga Pinoy. Pero may students akong dalawang Ecuatorianos at isang Chinese na kaibigan ng mga estudyante ko.”
Under his wing, his students are taught how to block, kick, punch, strike with an open-hand, sweep and throw.
“Yung mga bata kasi, nag-eenrol sila sa Taekwondo for self-defense, but later on mare-realize nila na hindi pala. Para nga makaiwas sa gulo, para hindi susubo sa trouble. Importante na turuan sila ng discipline development, humility and modesty.
“Of course, I train them to spar and how to gain points. Then I help them develop their stamina, improve their kicks and spar with a partner.”
The next thing that Elmar did was to coordinate with the Federació Catalana de Taekwondo for a possible membership. In June of this year, they became a certified member of the Federation.
Last October 24, barely five months since becoming a member, Elmar and his wards had their first taste of a real competition. Twenty Pinoy kids (16 boys and four girls) displayed their best kicks and punches joining over 1000 kids at the XXV Campionat de Catalunya Infantil de Competicio.
“Almost two and a half months kami nag-training. Hindi pa masyado familiar ang mga bata about rules. Palagi kong sinasabi sa kanila na hindi lang how to punch and to kick and dapat gawin but also endurance, perseverance and indomitable spirit.”
His efforts paid off, the kids performed way above his expectations. They bagged 12 medals: six silver and six bronze.
XXV CAMPIONAT DE CATALUNYA INFANTIL DE COMPETICIO winners:Jon Fernando Laureles Cutab,8 yrs.old, bronze; Christian Vincent Mañibo, 8 yrs.old,Bronze; Angelo Ramolete, 8 yrs.old, bronze; Aaron Landicho,9 yrs.old,silver, Jade Mariele Dimayuga, 9 yrs.old, silver; Tristan Jeno Andrada,9 yrs.old, silver;Teddy Alejandro Sanchez, 9 yrs.old, silver;Alex Masangkay,9 yrs.old, silver; Jason Clark Hidalgo,10 yrs.old, bronze; Jayveeron Gaya,10 yrs.old, bronze; Jason Minioza,12 yrs.old, silver; Axel John Miranda,12 yrs.old, bronze
“Very proud ako sa kanila. The president of the Federacion congratulated us. Very impressive ang performance ng mga bata. Alam nila ang color ng armor, naalala nila ang directive calls at yung rules. Considering that this was their first competition, they really did well. Sa first round pa lang, knock out na ang kalaban. Yung anak ko nanalo din ng silver medal!”
And the lesson he learned from their first competition.
“Dapat disiplina. Hindi lang sa pagspar, kung hindi sa pagkain din. Nagkaproblema kami before the competition kasi yung mga bata tumaas ang timbang. Hindi mapigilan ang pagkain.”
“Also, hindi lang dapat matapang, dapat ginagamit din ang utak. Hindi lang sugod nang sugod, you should know how to gain points to win the match. Pero dahil sa first time nila, pinabayaan ko silang dumiskarte, nageenjoy sila eh, pero I saw to it that they learned something from that experience.”
Last Nov. 7, once again, Elmar’s team showed off their kicks and punches at the Campeonato de XVI Trofeu Promocio Junior Masculino y Femenino at the Polideportivo de Mar Bella where bigger kids, (from 14 to 17 years old) participated. They grabbed four medals, three silver and one bronze. In the male division, Kim Alferez De Leon(super lightweight division) won the bronze medal and Kierwin Alferez De Leon(flyweight division) got a silver; in the female division, Mikaela Denise Veloso Gines (super lightweight division) and Abegail Lajom Panganiban (middleweight division)brought home each a silver medal. Right now, he is preparing the smaller ones for the upcoming competition in February 2011.
“Contribution ko na rin sa integration ng Filipino community in Barcelona, through this kind of sport, na-eexpose ang mga bata na magparticipate with other non-Pinoy teams and exercise sportsmanship.”
“Personally, gusto kong mabigyang halaga ng mga bata ang magandang kaugalian, makaiwas sa bisyo at marunong rumespeto sa kanilang mga magulang.”
Aside from his ultimate dream that someday he would also be one of those respected 9th-dan holders, the Saseongs or Grand masters, he also wishes that one day, he becomes a coach in an international competition.
Leading his team on the way to these back-to-back victories is undeniably remarkable. Being the only non-Catalan group in the Taekwondo Federation in Cataluña is a significant feat altogether. He is pleased that in his own way, he is doing something for the Filipino community. And following to the creed of Taekwondo, indeed, he is contributing something towards a better and a more peaceful society.
Note: Enrolment for the Taekwondo Classes is still going on. You can contact Elmar thru: firstname.lastname@example.org