ABULUG, Cagayan ‒ Maria Sweet Zie Jane Alupani discovered her love for gymnastics at an early age – five years old to be exact.
Through sheer talent and determination, the now 11-year-old Alupani has metamorphosed as one of the province’s top gymnasts.
She proved this by topping her pet event in the Cagayan Provincial Meet – thanks to her coach – Angelito Arania who tirelessly polished her craft.
Strong and graceful, Alupani earned an invite to represent the province in the Cagayan Valley Regional Athletic Association (CAVRA) last year.
Her dream to compete in the regional meet, however, was shattered by the health crisis brought about by the deadly coronavirus (COVID-19) disease.
Despite the pandemic, she continued to train almost daily.
Unknown to many, the Agta native fell in love with the sport through watching gymnastics events on TV at her grandmother’s house in Apayao which is near their town.
Last year, the fifth grade student of Banguian Elementary School of this municipality has caught the fancy of Maj. Norly Gamal, the town’s chief of police, during the launching of a mini-library in one barangay.
The chief of police and his troops were left awe-struck by her powerful performance that she was instantly chosen as beneficiary of Project LATA or Latang Alkansiya Tulong/Ayuda para sa Mag-aaral of Abulug Police Station.
Gamal told the Manila Bulletin-Tempo that they will continue to help the young gymnast achieve her goals in life.
“Gusto ko pong makapagtapos ng HRM (Hotel and Restaurant Management),” said Alupani.
“Mahirap lang po ang buhay namin, ang magulang ko po ay parehong magsasaka kaya nais ko pong kami ay makabangon at sana matulungan po ako ng mga tao,” she added.
With the promise of these policemen to assist her in her studies – not to mention her desire to excel in her chosen sport, Alupani is likely to break the barrier and become successful someday. (Liezle Basa Inigo)