by Misha Fabian
When you hear the words “ice” and “skating”, the Philippines is probably one of the last places that you would associate them to. However, not only does the country have numerous ice skating rinks, but it is also home to a talented, thriving pool of aspiring, young athletes with dreams to make it big on the international scene.
The first ice skating rink in the Philippines was built in 1992 at SM Megamall and while it was unfamiliar, it was immediately embraced by Filipinos as another fun, leisurely activity. It grew to be a popular past-time particularly during the summer months because kids would be out of school and on the lookout for ways to beat the heat- something all Filipinos would know too well.
Fast forward a few years later, ice skating gained traction and more and more people began to take it up as a sport. It became so sought after that the country’s governing body for figure skating, the Philippine Skating Union (formerly known as the Ice Skating Institute of the Philippines) applied for accreditation to be included in the International Skating Union, the premier body for international ice skating events which hosts competitions such as the World Figure Skating Championships and the Winter Olympics. From there, numerous Filipino figure skaters have set out to carve their own paths to achieve their dream to become a world-class athlete.
Filipino Ice Skaters:
One such figure skater, a male singles figure skater named Michael Martinez, even made history by representing the Philippines at the 2014 Winter Olympics- a feat no Filipino had ever accomplished before. Martinez trained in the Philippines during his first few years in the competition scene and later moved to Los Angeles in order to pursue more training. From a rink in the middle of a busy shopping mall to an international arena rubbing elbows with the most elite of athletes, he was able to capture the hearts of thousands of Filipinos with his story of grit, determination, and passion. Martinez went even further and took the Philippines to its second Olympics during the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. While he may not have brought home medals, he was able to put the Philippines on the map of figure skating and make his nation proud.
Michael Martinez Video #1 2014:
Michael Martinez Video #2 2018:
The recently concluded SEA Games in the Philippines also had a figure skating event, the second time in SEA Games history for the multisport competition to have one. Filipino figure skaters Alisson Perticheto, Cirinia Gillett, Christopher Caluza, and Edrian Celestino were able to give their all on the ice and were able to garner one silver medal and a 9th place finish in the women’s division, respectively and a silver medal and a 4th place finish in the men’s division, respectively. While the sport still has a ways to go in terms of its development, there is no question about the amount of talent our athletes have.
Various major international competitions throughout the year now have competitors representing the Philippines and there are talks of further developing and improving the sport locally so as to produce more homegrown athletes. With all these happening, the future is undoubtedly bright for our Filipino figure skaters. We cannot wait to see what is in store for them and for the Philippines in the world of sports!