The year 2021 will go down in Philippine sports history as the year of Filipino champions. In the recent Tokyo Olympics, our athletes showed what true champions are made of, lifting the spirit of an entire nation during a pandemic and igniting hope for what the Filipino youth can achieve if they set their minds to it.
But sports is not only about competing and getting a podium finish. With sports comes life lessons that former athletes, Director Marnie Manicad and Atty. Madeline Mina, said they learned from being enrolled in the MILO Sports program at a young age. Through its MILO Sports programs, Nestlé nourishes the youth with nutritious energy to jump start their own journey to success. It is not surprising that Nestlé has been able to inspire more than 35 million young Filipinos to grow with sports and pursue their love for basketball, volleyball, taekwondo, football, swimming, gymnastics, arnis, among others.
Today, Director Manicad and Atty. Mina try to live by the champion values that have shaped them in their early years as athletes, and now as professionals in their chosen careers.
It’s the experience, more than the destination
“I was with the MILO Sports program of Nestlé for a year in ULTRA (University of Life Pasig),” swimmer-turned-director Manicad said. Albeit a short period, she credits the experience for her work ethic in her current profession, especially in her journey as CEO of her own production company, Team MMPI. “Sports taught me to finish every work with pride. To cheer for the people around me and to be humble even in victory.”
Both as a director and as a mother, Manicad understands the importance of setting an example and mentoring young people. “My children are also into swimming,” the mother of three said, adding that she tries to pass on her learnings and impart the same values of hard work, staying focused, and being a team player to them. Now, it is their turn to make the most of their champion journeys in the same sport their mother loved and competed in when she was their age.
“I always tell my children to enjoy the journey as they head towards their destination. I encourage them to compete only with themselves, so with that, they will always come out as their best version,” Manicad explained, as the whole experience will help shape how her children take on life’s challenges.
Champions are not built overnight
One’s champion journey is never easy. But you have to start somewhere. For Atty. Mina, it was her father who encouraged her to join the MILO Club Gymnastica in Pasig at 10 years old, and who constantly supported and encouraged her to do her best, win or lose.
“Hindi siya basta-basta. You have to go through the process of training for a particular skill. Because in progressive trainings, especially for gymnastics, everything will get harder and more complex,” Atty. Mina explained. She committed herself to train both at home and in the gym to improve her somersaults and stick the landing of her vault routine. And when local and international competitions came, all the hard work to be at the highest competitive level was rewarded with medals and loud cheers of “Go, Madel!” from her family and teammates.
But after winning in four competitions, Atty, Mina felt like she wanted to give up. Her dream of becoming a champion gymnast in the Olympics remained just that – a dream. “It was that time when I felt overfatigue and no longer improving. I had to overcome such frustration, that even though I was no longer competing as a gymnast, I could still do what I love as a member of our cheerleading teams in high school and college.”
Struggles are part of the whole journey, she stressed. “Sometimes being a champion means taking failure in stride, allowing yourself to mourn and picking yourself up again to do better and bounce back higher,” she said. From being a gymnast to becoming a lawyer, Atty. Mina is now focusing her energy by taking part in the speedy administration of justice under the Supreme Court. It is about championing others this time around, she said.
It starts with a champion’s mindset
Nestlé has been championing the health and wellness of Filipino families for 110 years. As Nestlé adapts to the times, Arlene Tan-Bantoto, Senior Vice President and Head of Public Affairs, Sustainability and Communications, said the company has pivoted its MILO Sports program into the MILO Home Court online to help parents in keeping their kids active and healthy even while at home.
“A champion’s journey starts with fostering a champion’s mindset. As the Kasambuhay of Filipino families, Nestlé is excited to continue its mission of supporting parents in nurturing the inner champions in their children, supporting and cheering them on at every stage of their journey,” Tan-Bantoto said. It may have been five decades since Nestlé launched its first MILO Sports program but the determination, discipline, and self-confidence that it has instilled in millions of Filipino youth will, hopefully, prepare them to become champions both in sports and in life.