March 16, 2018
Cherry Mae Banatao is one of the thousands of aspiring athletes from all over the Philippines who will troop to Ilocos Sur in April to compete in the highly anticipated Palarong Pambansa 2018.

Now a 12th grader at Gamu Rural School in Linglingay, Gamu, Isabela, Cherry commenced her journey in the world of athletics as a track and field runner at the age of 12. Her skills in high jump were unraveled when she entered Junior High School.

Regrettably, the height of her first jump – and her first shot at the sport – was not enough to score her a slot in the regional athletic meet. Reaching only up to the division level in her seventh grade, Cherry became more determined to train harder and push herself to the limit. She would use every free time as an opportunity to practice, improve, and reach greater heights.

Her diligence, self-discipline, and stamina started to pay off when she bagged the gold medal in the high jump event of the Cagayan Valley Regional Athletic Association (CAVRAA) Meet in the two succeeding years, which earned her tickets to the Palarong Pambansa where she brought home bronze medals.

It was when she cleared a national juniors record-tying height of 1.66 meters in the secondary girls’ high jump event of the 2016 Palarong Pambansa held in Legazpi City, Albay, that she clasped her first gold medal for the region.

The budding athlete had a taste of an international tournament when she was selected to represent the Philippine in the 9th ASEAN School Games held in Singapore where she soared high and snatched a bronze medal for the country.

Her family, back in the farm of San Bonifacio in Burgos, Isabel, is proudest of her achievements. Her continuously growing collection of medals is their treasure.

Inspired by her family and supported by her school, Cherry has proven that success is indeed earned and determined by effort. She did not only dream; she strived – vigorously and persistently – for it to come true. Every bar she clears is reminiscent of all the hurdles she has overcome in life. Each jump may not be as steep and lofty, but what matters is that she takes the risk and proves herself worthy of her laurels.

With a record height of 1.55 meters, which earned her a gold in the 2018 CAVRAA, Cherry is a force to be reckoned with in this year’s Palaro.

“Cherry is a pride of our school. She carries out the image of a well-disciplined and determined athlete that her schoolmates and fellow athletes tend to look up to,” school principal Dr. Felino Corpuz shared.

Cherry hopes to inspire student-athletes, fellow teenagers, and even grownups who have known the story behind her roaring success.
Danielle Louie Penaribe
Teacher III
Gamu Rural School