May 24, 2024

Win for all: Senior citizens fulfill dream of serving country during FIBA World Cup

Win for all: Senior citizens fulfill dream of serving country during FIBA World Cup
One Sports

When organizers called for volunteers for the FIBA World Cup to be hosted here in the Philippines, Elizabeth Lapid, Seth Gadiano, and Andy Palima were among those who answered the call.

Now, they're wearing the blue and black uniforms bearing the FIBA World Cup logo.

You'd easily recognize them. They're three of an estimated a thousand volunteers at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

"It's actually a very beautiful experience because you get to serve your country in a different way," shared Elizabeth Lapid, who is 65 years old. She's holding up a "How may I help you?" sign inside the Coliseum.

Sports is actually a family affair for them. Lapid used to play volleyball. Her husband played basketball. Their son is also a volunteer in the World Cup.

"We're meeting a lot of people and you engage yourself with different kinds of people from different walks of life."

Seth Gadiano is 66 years old, and he helps out inside the hallways, pointing out to spectators which section of the coliseum they should go. It's familiar terrain for him as he used to be part of the national team's staff.

Being around the action to this day sparks life in him. 

"Talagang pangarap ko sa buhay na maglingkod sa bansa natin, lalo na sa sports. Kasi dati naman galing ako sa Gilas, naka-five years ako doon," he shared.

"Bitin pa ako," an energetic Gadiano explained. "'Pag nawala sa akin ang sports, para bang palagay ko mapadali ang buhay ko."

Andy Palima is 73, and actually turning 74 soon. His job is to check tickets to guide guests before they enter the actual spectator area.

"Ang pagvo-volunteer minsan-minsan lang maganap sa Pilipinas 'yan," he shared.

Palima even recalled the times the Philippines made history in the FIBA World Cup. He was five years old when the Philippines took third place in the 1954 Brazil tournament. He was ten years old when the Filipinos participated again in the 1959 edition in Chile.

Now, Palima is part of history with the Philippines' second FIBA World Cup hosting.

"Elementary pa lang ako noon," he recalled. "History making ito kasi senior citizen na ako."

They all applied online as volunteers and answering questions in an interview.

For Palima, who worked before as a seaman, he couldn't let the chance to serve pass him by.

"Malaking bagay 'yung may maitutulong ka sa Pilipinas kahit sa ganitong bagay," he explained. He wants to showcase Filipino hospitality.

"Para may iba pa silang malalaman sa Pilipino. Kasi minsan masama ang image ng Pilipino sa ibang countries. So kapag nakita nila at hindi lang 'yung hospitality, 'yung culture na hindi basta basta ang Pilipino, mapagmahal pa."

Despite the rush of people, especially during Gilas games, the senior volunteers enjoy their work. They also get allowances and free food.

"The people around here naman, we get to help one another," Lapid said. "So I don't think it's really a problem."

"Physically fit pa rin," Gadiano shared. "Bago ako mag-duty, talagang [hinahanda] ko ang katawan ko, kinukundisyon."

They're just all too happy to help.

"101 percent, happing-happy," Gadiano added.

(With reports from Mei-Lin Lozada, One Sports Digital)