Marielle G. Singayan

Student-athletes may have once thought that sports will be their only priority. The truth is, no matter how important sports may be in one’s life, there will always be one thing that outweighs it.

In an inspirational speech he addressed to both junior and senior baseball student-athletes from all regions on Wednesday, 27th of April at Lt. Villafuerte Elementary School during the Sports Heroes Day of the Palarong Pambansa 2019, Arnold P. Sarabia, member of the Philippine National Team to the 1976 Far East Little League Baseball Championship, stressed one thing.

Ang game, hindi panghabang-buhay ‘yan. Natatapos din ‘yan,” he told the group of awestruck delegates.

Sarabia reminded them of one thing all student-athletes must have heard from everyone every single day: “Huwag pabayaan ang pag-aaral.”

Baseball sports icon Arnold P. Sarabia shared his knowledge to inspire the young baseball athletes during the Sports Heroes Day of the 2019 Palarong Pambansa in Calinan National High School, Davao City, April 27. (Photo by Keith Daniel Tizon)

The man in the diamond
Hailing from a family of athletes, Sarabia has represented Davao City in different national sporting events such as Palarong Pambansa, Palarong Pilipino, Palarong Bagong Lipunan, Philippine National Games, National PRISAA, National UAAP, and other national open championships.

He became a member of the Philippine National Team to the 1976 Far East Little League Baseball Championship, but it has been a one-time affair. Sarabia jokes that Manila’s never-ending traffic is one of the reasons why he hasn’t fully pursued the career, but an encounter with a troubled team member—one whom he has chosen not to name—has opened his eyes to the truth every student-athlete should see with eyes wide open.

The unnamed teammate—in a bid to lead the young Sarabia in a place the former has failed to pursue—encouraged the latter to finish his studies. Said teammate has failed to do so, too consumed by the passion he has built up for the game, and has fallen short of meeting the standards of his academic degree. So he advised Sarabia to pursue his studies along with the latter’s dream of being the athlete he has gloriously been.

And so Sarabia did.

Now a licensed civil engineer, Sarabia currently works as Department Manager of the Internal Audit Department of Davao City Water District.

Keeping opportunities
As a sports icon for baseball, Sarabia imparted insightful advice to the country’s future elite athletes.
He expressed that as an athlete, there will always be something missing in one’s own skillset, like an eaglet finding its footing and stretching its wings to fully achieve flight. As such, Sarabia instructed the Palarong Pambansa delegates to assess themselves and find the skill they needed to improve more on.

Ang goal natin as a player ay ang maging miyembro ng national team,” Sarabia said.
He also told the delegates to exert more effort to fill in the skill they observe they are lacking. “Through that, siguradong aasenso kayo,” he added.

Sarabia also acknowledged that there are certain perks of being athletes at such a young age. As an athlete develops and gains more talent and experience, it becomes more possible for them to be future varsity players of their chosen college or university. With this comes the scholarship programs the university would provide for them and this, Sarabia revealed, is where the real challenge begins.

Juggling between training and studies, student-athletes are expected to maintain good grades to be able to keep not only their position in the team, but also the scholarship granted to them. Sarabia gave wise counsel to the Palaro delegates in addition to time management.

Aside from being members of the national team, Sarabia revealed that there will always be something that transcends even the goal of being a renowned athlete.

Ang goal talaga natin sa buhay ay ‘yung after playing,” he solemnly shared with the wide-eyed young audience. “Ang game, hindi panghabang-buhay ‘yan. Natatapos din ‘yan.”

“’Wag n’yong pabayaan ang pag-aaral ninyo,” Sarabia said, reflecting on his unnamed, wistful teammate who failed to finish his studies.
He also advised the delegates that the best way to give back to their supporters and parents is to graduate and obtain a diploma as token of gratitude to those who helped them every step of the way.

Being an athlete is an honor in and of itself. But being an athlete with a fulfilled educational background is both an honor and a wonderful privilege. As Sarabia concluded, education is—and should always be—one’s ultimate goal.