Nilo Ledama, 17, of Zamboanga del Sur, sure feels like the champion in the tennis secondary boys’ competition of the Palarong Pambansa because he now owns the racket he used to win the title in this year’s edition of the regional sports competition.
The incoming Grade 11 student of Zamboanga del Sur National High School has been using a borrowed or given racket since he started playing tennis at 4 years old until last year’s Palaro in Ilocos Sur. Thus, the five tennis gold medals he won in Palaro in the past 13 years seemed to be also “borrowed.”
Ledama finally bought his own racket in January. It took him four years to save P1,500 to buy the racket in Malaysia, he said.
Ledama comes from a poor family with his mother as the only provider, because his father could no longer work after a stroke paralyzed him. Ledama’s mother sells vegetables and fruits in front of their house.
The cash prizes he won in Palaro were very small compared to players from other regions, so the tennis champion was not able to use it to acquire the equipment he needs. Instead, Ledama earned P3,000 per month by serving as referee or ball boy in tennis courts. The players he served gave him P50 to P100 for the service.