by Nearlyn Lumayno || Photo Credit: Sarah Jane Canalita Robrigado/Good News Pilipinas
Bince Rafael Operiano, a chess genius from Albay, Philippines, won a trophy and four medals from the recently concluded 6th Eastern Asia Youth Chess Championship held in Bangkok, Thailand. However, his journey to compete in a foreign country included sleeping at the Thailand airport for three nights due to the lack of lodging funds.
“We don’t have enough money to meet the needs of my son during the competition. In fact, we sourced out funds by soliciting from friends and local officials,” stated his mother, Rosemary Operiano, after Bince almost did not fly to Thailand.
In the post of the Albay 3rd District Representative Fernando Cabredo, he explained, “Due to limited funds and while waiting for the plane ticket sponsored by the Philippine Sports Commission, Bince and his father spent three nights at the airport with those benches as their bed.” He then added that Bince had to fly to Thailand first without the company of his father.
Later, his mother revealed that the parents of other contestants saw the little boy crying because he missed his father, Mr. Ben Operiano. As a 9-year-old boy, it was difficult for him to be in a foreign country without any of his parents to accompany him—all while competing internationally.
Although Bince withstood the first game with no parent around to root for him, he soon felt pressured and dropped his first game. Luckily, his father arrived in Thailand early enough to root for Bince in his next games. From that time, Bince was more comfortable and eager to win the games.
Since his father’s arrival, Bince had won the succeeding rounds and made it to the top. According to Mr. Operiano, his son was more motivated and driven to bag the championship title. The little boy ranked first in the U-10—under ten years old—category after overthrowing 20 other contestants from different countries.
Mr. Operiano is absolutely proud of Bince’s achievements and solid commitment to do his best in the games despite all the challenges. This 9-year-old boy undoubtedly made everyone in his hometown and country proud.
The struggles that Bince had to resist to win the Chess Championship are unsettling because he endured them young. However, this only exposes how the Philippine government does not give its athletes the best support. In fact, it is one of the most pressing issues that athletes who participate on the international stage face constantly—and this must soon change. It is just fitting that the government should provide extensive care to the country’s athletes, as they need to be in the best condition to compete.