Exactly a year after the Tokyo Paralympic Games saw the participation of six Filipino Paralympians, the homegrown athletes continue to relish their achievements by striving to perfect their craft while enjoying the company of family.
The Paralympic Games is an international multi-sport event for athletes with disabilities. The games intend to create a more inclusive world through Parasport and help paralympians achieve sporting greatness. As an ultimate test that builds courage, determination, inspiration, and equality, paralympians are considered champions the moment they step on the starting line.
Recognizing the level of commitment that it takes to compete in an international sporting competition, no less the highly sought-after Tokyo Games which hallmarked the Philippines’ first gold medal win, Cebu Pacific (CEB) gifted the Olympic and Paralympic delegation with free flights that they can use for themselves and for friends and family. Furthermore, CEB is the only airline that has given away flight grants to show its appreciation for the athletes that proudly represented the Philippines in the Paralympics.
“Our Paralympic delegation did their best and have proven that they deserve to fly. We recognize their efforts and are grateful to them for representing our country loud and proud,” said Carmina Romero, Director for Corporate Communications at Cebu Pacific.
A total of 26 flights were given to each Paralympian, which they used for themselves and their loved ones, so they may fly across CEB’s domestic and short-haul international destinations.
One of the paralympians, Filipino wheelchair racer Jerrold Mangliwan, who placed eighth in the men’s 100m T52 finals, was able to use and share his free flights from Cebu Pacific with his family and friends immediately following their competition. “Competing in the games is always a challenge. It takes a lot of mental, physical, and financial investment which is why I consider it a blessing to be reunited with friends and family after a tournament—especially after the games in Tokyo. Because of the flight grants, we felt the airline’s love and support for the para-athletes,” says Mangliwan.
For para-athlete Angel Otom, she used the flight grants to be with her family while competing in the games. “We were able to see my child compete in swimming for the first time thanks to the free flights provided by Ernie Gawilan and Gary Bejino. I was overjoyed to be able to see her in person while competing. Aside from the fact that it was my first trip to Indonesia with my husband, it was a big help for us to save money because instead of paying it with our own, we used it to pay for other expenses such as hotels and food while in Indonesia. We are grateful for the free airline tickets. The crew on Cebu Pacific were friendly, and they made sure that the passengers had a comfortable and smooth flight,” says Mila Otom, Angel’s mother.
Likewise, Abner Alegarbes, the father of para-athlete Ariel Alegarbes, was able to also visit Indonesia and watch his son compete. “Coach, I’m very thankful sa Cebu Pacific na nakarating ako sa Indonesia to witness sa laro ng anak ko. Very appreciated po talaga. Sana maulit muli. Thank you talaga,” says Abner.
(Coach, I’m very thankful that Cebu Pacific allowed me to travel to Indonesia in time to see my son compete. It is greatly appreciated, and I hope it will happen again. Thank you very much.)
Other paralympians like Ernie Gawilan, Allan Ganapin, Gary Bejino, Jeanette Acevedo, and Achelle H. Guion made use of the flight grants to continue the love for the sport. The flight grant encouraged the paralympians to advance their skills by giving them a sense of value for all of the effort they had put into competing for their country. “The flight grants from CEB came as a surprise for me. It allowed me to continue my training without having to worry about expensive flights,” says Ernie Gawilan.
Staying true to the airline’s adage that “Everyjuan deserves to fly”, CEB granted flights to all Olympic and Paralympic delegates in Tokyo in 2021 as the airline also serendipitously celebrated its 25th year of democratizing air travel.