They are called second or third generation Filipinos in Canada or elsewhere in the world where Pinoy immigrants choose to settle. But what do children born of a migrant Filipino parent think of the Philippines? Or, do they even think of the Philippines at all?
Regardless of how much or how little these later generations think about their parents’ or grandparents’ home country, one thing is pure and certain – the Philippines never stop to welcome them anytime they choose to embrace Motherland. Fourteen-year old Trinity Wambolt just had a piece of that and loved it.
The only daughter of Canadian Durell Wambolt and Bernadette Tan who migrated in the 70s with brother, sister and parents, Trinity recently got her first-hand taste of the famous Filipino hospitality. More than the cheerful welcome, she was given the trust that she could bring honor to the country by becoming a member of the Philippine National women’s soccer team which recently competed in Laos. Of the official 18 members, all under 14 years old, 7 were girls from the US and 1 from Canada (Trinity) and the rest were recruited and trained from the best in the different regions of the Philippines
The hastily-planned travel to Mom’s home country started when she was first spotted on You Tube by Mark Mangune, a recruiter for the Philippine National Team eyeing to compete in some international and regional football contests. Trinity was contacted and made to attend the ID camp in Corona, California in November 2015. The camp was led by the head of the Philippine Football Federation, women’s department, Ernie Nierras. In this camp, Trinity must have been able to exhibit some winning soccer form, and thus, got invited for a try-out with the Philippine National Team in Manila.
Manila Heat, Homesickness and Tragedy
But what was to be a fun and adventurous trip to Manila with Lola Cecil Tan turned out to be sad and heartbreaking when Grandmom’s Manila-based sister Alice suffered a series of strokes and succumbed just as Trinity passed the try-out and was merely on her first week in the Los Banos Training camp. The most painful part was when she failed to break camp and make it to the funeral. Yet, she knew that Tita Alice would have preferred that she finished her training as the grand-aunt was a big fan. She wanted her to get one of the 18 up-for-grab slots in the national team, which of course, she did. The heat, homesickness and family tragedy failed to discourage Trinity.
As it happened, the 18 girls selected, who later called themselves U14 Malditas, represented the Philippines in the Asian Football Confederation Regional championship held in Laos last May 31 – June 5, 2016. They faced tough teams from Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar and then Thailand again for the championship where they ended up with a silver medal, actually giving the Philippines its best ever showing in the same competition. Trinity kicked to her first 2 international goals in games with Cambodia and Myanmar.
Those power kicks did not come as easy as they looked. The confidence comes from the passion to excel and the discipline Trinity imposes upon herself.
“Every day after school, I would practice from 4:00 pm up to 9 or 10:00 pm, stopping a while only when my Mom calls me for dinner,”
Trinity said. She added that she trains 3 times a week and would compete every weekend all year round since she got into the sports.
As one sportswriter calculated, if there were 40 weeks in a year with some breaks, Trinity would be a veteran of 120 competitions at age 13. She turned 14 shortly before she flew out of Canada for the Manila tryout in April this year.
The Athlete Raised Herself
How does a father or a mother raise an athlete?
Dad Durell actually said he has to give credit to Trinity herself. As soon as she picked up the sport, she “raised” herself to make sure she does well in it. The discipline, the focus and the desire to excel are all of Trinity’s initiatives. Dad Durell was quick to admit that it was not really their idea to get her into soccer or football. Both parents do not even know anything about the sports until introduced by Trinity herself. They did not even watch soccer games. Trinity is in fact the one teaching them now a lot about soccer.
“I was 10 years old when I was asked by a friend to join them in a home league soccer club in North Mississauga,”
she related. Before that, she revealed that she also did not know soccer. But as soon as she got into it, she knew right away she liked it and pushed herself to be good at it. And her parents, now starting to learn and to love the sport, can only give their 100% support.
Support can also be very challenging especially when they have to dig deeper down their pockets to be able to send her to training camps or to fly out of Canada for try-outs or to compete. Being an only child might be an advantage but just like any other sports, an athlete can only be as good as how hard he or she has trained and exposed him or herself to games and competitions to get the valuable experience needed. Hopefully, sponsors can come in at some opportune time.
Getting intense about something, especially competitive sports and more so at a very young age does present the idea that the child could be missing out on some normal growing-up things. Some girly stuffs may be for budding teenagers. Not for her, says Trinity.
No Girly Stuffs for Her
“I never liked girly stuff,” says Trinity. She would rather practice or train than go shopping, experiment with make-up, play video games or spend time on the computer. She prefers going to the park or playground or any open spaces where she can kick the ball. If she were not into soccer, it would be hockey, she said.
With the making of a varsity player or even a professional one, Trinity’s academics are well attended, too. According to the proud father, “Trinity recently graduated with honours from St Gregory Elementary school and is looking forward to starting high school in the fall at St. Aloysius Gonzaga.” In this school, she intends to try out for the Gonzaga Bulldogs girls’ soccer team.
Trinity currently plays club soccer for Epic FC Toronto (based out of Mississauga) with their home field being Huron Park recreation centre. Head Coach is Giorgio Iannizzi, informed Dad Durell. Trinity is bullish about making it again in the national team next year and being the best in this sport. She sees herself one day as a topnotch football player.
Aside from successfully earning a slot as lone Fil-Canadian in the National Team, what imprints did her stay of 54 days in the Philippines leave her with?
“It was to me a great experience,” says Trinity, explaining that the trip drew her closer to the very different culture that her Mom’s country of birth represented. Encounter with Philippine culture used to be confined to what Lola Cecil would try hard to introduce to her. That includes relishing sinigang, adobo and lumpia.
As Dad is pure Canadian whose family hails from Nova Scotia, and Mom having come to Canada at age 3, the only possible fervent link in the household to the Philippines is indeed her grandmother, a Filipino-Spanish even and who married a Filipino-Chinese. Trinity said she does not even know how to speak Tagalog. But after the 54-day sojourn, she looks forward to learning how to speak the language of her Lola.
May be not because it is simply cool to have another language tucked under one’s tongue, but more so because having come and tasted honest-to-goodness Pinoy warmth, Trinity will always feel it in her heart that she is welcomed anytime to a beautiful second home that is the Philippines.