Apple Joyce Pansalin

He may have been adorned  with orbs of bronze, silver, and gold since 2008, but this taekwondo world champion from General Santos City remained grounded as he spoke to the athletes of the 2019 Palarong Pambansa in Davao City.

His rigid trainings, “nine to twelve hours a day,” honed Jean Pierre Sabido to finally make an indelible imprint in the world of martial arts with a 5th Dan black belt.

During his younger days, JP had never imagined becoming a world champion. It was in 1996 when he first chased the opportunity to play which lighted the fire for his passion in sports. He had the chance to witness some Korean missionaries who were going around the country to render a stunning show of acrobats and body arts.

JP—young as he was—was in awe, with sparkling eyes and burning fire inside, and this fire continues to be ignited until today.

In college, JP took a degree in Sports Science under the UP Diliman scholarship program where he became one of the varsity players. “Noong college ako, whenever there were stories of champions, world champions, iyak ako talaga,” he said. “Kapag nag-mature ka sa sports, you develop a dream.”

He wanted to become an Olympic gold medalist and bring the bacon home to his beloved country.

JP’s former coach, Mario Figillana, shared that JP was a kid with perseverance and the will to win. “Though he can be a little bit loose to his drive sometimes, madali naman siyang bumabalik sa focus,” he added.

“I love taekwondo because among all other sports, martial arts teaches love for country,” JP said, beaming. “In martial arts, athletes’ foremost training is respect for the flag and then to their superiors.”

EVEN AXE KICKS. Jean Pierre Sabido (right) performs with an 11-year-old Palarong Pambansa taekwondo challenger (left) from MIMAROPA Region during the Sports Heroes Day, April 27. PHOTO BY JOJIROSE ANNE MONDING

He had his dream to fight for, yet his family had a different dream for him. For them, he could be a lawyer and help others obtain justice. He could be a doctor and cure people’s illnesses and help in promoting wellness. He could be an engineer, or an architect perhaps, like any other man. But he did not.

“In a way, I disappointed my family,” he confessed. He became a full-time athlete, far from what was expected of him; yet he believes that in a way, he got the best choice in his life, as everyone “has a responsibility to play part in the society.”

He responded to his call as an athlete and served to bring glory to the country. He became the first Philippine Champion in Freestyle Poomsae in 2014.

He invested a lot of time and effort to his sports and he does not regret it. He also does not believe in giving things for free or welfare. “Sometimes, when things are free, you take it for granted. But when you put value into it, you will take it seriously,” he noted, emphasizing that one shall endure the painful process before success.

After winning the championship in Taiwan last year, Jean Pierre decided to retire from international competitions and dedicated his time to his family and teaching taekwondo as a profession. He now has his own taekwondo school and extends his hands in teaching youngsters from the grassroots.

In teaching in his own school, he said that he salutes all the teachers because “raising a child is not a joke.”

“I want to groom them to be good citizens of the country.” He said that the early years of a child is when you teach them respect and all the other important virtues for them to become good citizens. He serves as the light for other dreamers through sharing what he learned from years of experiences. “I dream that all my students will serve the country and really perform.”

Some of his students have been included in the National Team and international competitions. One of them was Jamiehannah Agaloos who won two bronze medals in last year’s World Taekwondo Poomsae championship.

Aside from the gold medals he garnered, Jean Pierre Sabido’s greatest achievement is being a father to his six-month-old son and being married to his wife Crystal Pauline Reyes-Sabido with whom he shares the same passion. It was love at first for him and her, when they met as coaches of different delegations in Palarong Pambansa 2015.

” I challenge every taekwondo enthusiasts to have a big dream, to be an outlier, unique, malayo sa iba,” he said as a parting message to all competing athletes. “Hold on to your dream so tight until you reach it!”