Filipino-Canadian Adrian Tongko hopes to bring honor to the Philippines as a snowboarding athlete.
Born in Pasay City, Tongko grew up in Antipolo and at the age of nine, his family migrated to Canada where he finished high school.
“I went on to get a diploma at Northwest Culinary Academy in Vancouver. During my last two years of high school, I was able to balance working in the culinary field and snowboarding with the help of my school program called ‘Peak Performance’. This program allows high performance athletes to pursue their sports while getting academic credits,” said the 20-year-old Tongko, who is scheduled to make a courtesy call to the Philippine Olympic Committee this week.
The Philippines is preparing for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in Korea and the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
Tongko has trained and competed in the United States and Canada as a member of the British Columbia Development Team under coach Dane Kaechele.
“It is an honor to be able to represent my homeland. Even though I’ve trained abroad in places like Canada (where I live at present), United States, and Australia, I still consider the Philippines my home. I hope this opportunity can shine a positive spotlight on the Philippines, and the Filipino athletes that compete in winter sports,” he said on Saturday.
Tongko recalled that he was about nine when his mother took him and his elder brother to a mountain in North Vancouver.
“I skied with my mum most weekends and I really enjoyed it, but I saw my brother having the time of his life snowboarding. So the next year, my parents bought me a second-hand snowboard, a season pass, and immediately fell in love with the sport. After a few years of recreational snowboarding, and watching rail jams and slope style competitions, I knew this was something I wanted to do. Snowboarding started to become a lifestyle for me and I became more serious,” said the youngest of three siblings.
“In the winter season of 2015-2016, my parents and I decided it was time to join a more progressive team based in Whistler, Canada. Whistler is a world-renowned ski town, which has produced some of the world’s top winter athletes. Since then, Joe McAdoo (who is also half-Filipino) has guided me and has taught me a lot about being mentally and physically prepared and has made me appreciate the sport a lot more.”
Tongko said he will compete in the World Cup, an Olympic qualifying tournament slated in August in New Zealand.
“I am now focused on qualifying for the next Olympics. In the next few months, I will be heading to Australia for training, in preparation for an Olympic qualifying competition in New Zealand. I will be in Manila for the next two months before heading to Australia seeking Philippine sponsors to help me reach my goal,” he said.
Philippine Ski Federation president Jemuel Apelar described Tongko’s performances this year as “very good”.
“Based on his performances this year, he is very good. He has a second place, a third place and second place and a couple of fourth places. That is excellent,” said Apelar.
In the 2017 Sapporo Winter Games, the Philippines was represented by figure skaters Michael Martinez, Jules Alpe, Samantha Cabiles and Shayanne Casapao; snowboarding athlete Ryan Espiritu; and short-track speed skater Kathryn Magno. (Jean T. Malanum/PNA)