My Mindanao Peace Games Discover Leadership Program (DLP) journey was kind of a rebirthing experience. I never thought that my involvement in sports would enrich my whole being as a person. I never imagined that I can be more until my DLP experience.

We arrived at the Discovery Suites, Ortigas Center at June 17, Sunday morning. I met my co-participants coming from various regions of Mindanao who were a mixture of coaches, school administrators and teachers, sporting event organizers, a lawyer and a priest. We started our series of shared experience with watching a PBA Manila Clasico game played between the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and the Magnolia Hotshots. We found ourselves seated in a rather deafening and very expressive Ginebra fans who were obviously proud seeing their team win at the end of the match.

On June 18, Monday, Day 1 of our DLP experience, I found myself privileged to be in the 42nd floor of the Discovery Suites and seated at the table where Alex Compton, Head Coach of Alaska Aces, and Atty. Victor Africa, consultant of the Philippine Sports Commssion, shared their knowledgeable insights and valuable wisdom. Alex Compton talked about having the proper mindset and the inverse relationship between happiness and the number of choices we currently have. I, myself, found it really empowering when I finally got the wisdom behind the notion that it’s not about the strength in numbers but it’s more about the strength of the number. As to Coach Alex were saying, when we finally commit to one single choice, it would be easier for us to chase excellence, developing discipline and attaining consistency along the way.

Atty. Africa also set the tone for my whole DLP experience. He made mention of identifying your own personal philosophy in life and in sports and how would it reveal your own personal values. His whole talk was more of a trigger for reflection rather than an outpour of new concepts. He hit it where it was vital and essential, which was somehow forgotten because it may be regarded by many as basic and unnecessary. And so my perspective began to expand and I was more aware and conscious on how I view things, on how I live my life, on how we win our small battles for peace in Mindanao through sports – through forming the younger and coming generations beyond sports.

At the later part of our Day 1, we were joined by Mr. Lester Castillo from Milo – Nestle Philippines, Mr. Jay Adevoso, one of the founders of Bravo Basketball Inc, Ms. Elise Mendoza and Atty. Mariana Lopa from Girls Got Game (GGG), and Mr. Jed Diamante, current team captain of the De La Salle University Men’s Football Team. I acquired more of strengthening points for coaching in and out of the pitch. It’s elevating when you find yourself amid kindred individuals who are facing somehow similar battles and sharing the same passion. Day 1 was a proper combination of ideals and actual strategies equipping us for our specific objectives when we get back to Mindanao.

On June 19, Tuesday, we visited the following communities, Xavier School, One Meralco Foundation, and Christ’s Commission Fellowship (CCF). Day 2 was more of experiencing experience. In Xavier School, we had the chance to see the whole campus especially their basketball gym and strength and conditioning center then we learned more of their athletics program. In One Meralco Foundation, we were introduced to the history of Meralco and had the chance to visit the PBA team Meralco Bolts during their regular training. We also had the idea of the current efforts of One Meralco Foundation towards their aspirations for the Filipino people. In CCF, we had the chance to speak with their sports ministry and they provided us the materials on how do we really encapsulate values on our specific training programs as coaches. They enlightened us more about their approach in reaching out to kids who have absentee parents and I, personally, found myself awaken that our young athletes are very sensitive to what we teach them. Coaches handling younger athletes should be more aware of the kids’ personal development and must focus more on character building as important as their physical training.

On June 20, Wednesday, we had our morning session on Sports Management with Ms. Geraldine Go Bernardo and had a workshop on the afternoon. We were divided into small groups where we were tasked to create a project of significance. After an hour or two, we presented our upcoming projects and I was amazed on how the Mindanao Peace Games (MPG) operate. It’s more like of a movement rather than an annual sporting event or an association of Mindanao schools or universities competing. At the DLP, I, then, knew I was glad to be a part of this movement. A movement that uses sports as an avenue to gather young women athletes to share a common empowering leadership experience and a trigger for coaches or sports leaders to connect to proper networks where efforts are optimized and aimed towards holistic community development.

We had our Send-Off Dinner at the Clermont Hall of Discovery Suites later that evening. All the participants had the chance to formally dress up and share in front of the whole group their own memorable experiences in the context of being involved in their own communities. At the concluding part of my DLP experience, I was heartened to hear various stories from my co-participants that across the regions of Mindanao, engagement in sports is a language that must be used in the most nurturing approach, a tool to connect differently beautiful people, and an art that must be developed and taught to become a part of an edifice that revolves around truth.

And lastly, In behalf of my co-participants, we would like to thank one of the best epitomes of empowered women in the Philippines and the woman behind our one-of-a-kind DLP experience, our heartfelt thanks to Ms. Cynthia Tiu. May our peace-building efforts through sports build us to become better individuals above all.