Eight weeks after Filipino surfer taught the entire sporting world what kind of human beings’ Filipinos are, his exemplary behavior displayed during the last 30th Southeast Asian Games remains the talk of the town everywhere.
Casugay sacrificed his chances of winning the gold medal in the surfing competitions of the SEA Games held here in 2019 by saving Indonesian rival Arip Nurhidayat, from drowning, the 26-year-old native of San Fernando La Union, in a rare display of what stuff we Filipinos are made up of.
Casugay’s story reminded each and everyone of us great lesson in human courage and perseverance. It showcased human spirit, the element that seems nobody remembers anymore.
As his drama unfolded, Casugay touched the highest aspirations of us all that in sports, including the Olympic Games, all winners are not the only heroes. It portrayed that some champions finished last. That to compete is the highest form of victory.
But most importantly, the 26-year-old’s heroics, as in the words of United Philippine Surfing Association President Dr. Jose Raul Canlas, showed what kind of human beings and sportsmen Filipinos are.
Only two weeks ago, Casugay’s feat didn’t remain unnoticed. He will be the first Filipino recipient of the prestigious Pierre de Coubertin Act of Fair Play Award given out by the International Fair Play Committee.
He will receive the recognition, named after the father of the international Olympic movement, on October 27 virtually or by going personally to the Sovereign City State of Monaco where the awards ceremonies will be celebrated
That is depending on whether the present worldwide state of health brought about by Covid-19 will improve before that date.
“Roger didn’t only show the entire sporting world the Filipinos’ athletic attributes, he, likewise, proved kung anong klaseng tao tayong mga Pilipino,” Dr. Canlas told this writer a day after the announcement conferring the award was made.
“At a time when the whole world is suffering from the spread of Coronavirus, napakagandang malaman ng buong mundo na isang Pilipino ang nagawaran ng karangalang tulad ni Roger hindi lamang sa kanyang pagiging atleta kundi lalo na sa kanyang pagiging makatao.”
“We’re not the most hospitable people in the world for nothing. That’s what Roger has proved which we all should be proud of,” Dr. Canlas, also a long-time member of the FIBA Medical Commission, said.
Philippine Sports Commission Chair William “Butch” Ramirez, in a press statement, shared Dr. Canlas’ observations, saying all Filipinos, indeed, must feel proud of the international recognition bestowed on Casugay, adding the Pinoy surfer “exemplified the true meaning of being a Filipino and a sportsman.”
“Above all, it is a more fulfilling achievement to be recognized for character other than skills and achievement (in sports),” Ramirez contended.
Even Indonesian President Joko Widodo spared no words in praising the Filipino surfers exemplary deed, which said, “personified sportsmanship in helping the Indonesian rival.
In spite of his role-model deed, Casugay, who eventually beat Nurhidayat in that semi-final round before disposing off compatriot and compatriot Rogelio Esquivel Jr. I n the one-on-one battle for the gold medal, remains as humbly as can be, even downplaying his heroism.
“No, I’m not a hero,” Casugay told media men in a post-competition interview. “I didn’t really save him from drowning. I know Arip, he’s a good swimmer.”( EDDIE G. ALINEA)