REVISED COPY OF MANULIFE PHILIPPINES SPEECH BY MONSOUR DEL ROSARIO
Good evening distinguished guest, ladies and gentlemen.
I am indeed privileged to be amongst all of you here in this room for this Manulife Philippines recognition dinner.
As an athlete in the martial art sport of Taekwondo who has been through the struggles to succeed, I truly do understand the meaning of ‘Go the Distance’.
However, this evening I would like to take you on a journey. It is perhaps apt that it follows from ‘Go the Distance’.
It’s an excursion that begins and ends with the dreams that we have. The road may differ but the journey itself will be enriching and the rewards will be bountiful.
First and foremost, it begins with desire. My desire was to become a Taekwondo champion on the world stage and a champion of the people in this country.
As an individual who has come through the rigors of a broken home to succeed and reach the heights of the Southeast Asian Games, Asian Games, World Championships and the Olympics, I can share with you that this journey for me has been one that has only been possible because it started with a desire.
The road was a long one for me and I recognize it from the start.
As a child my interest in the martial arts started out with a fascination for Kung Fu movies and I also had a hero in Bruce Lee. The fact that I was also often bullied in school was of course an added motivation to learn an art that will help me defend myself.
Those were the traces of the early beginnings. They were hard and difficult days.
Despite my family’s ability to provide for me financially in my questa, it was unfortunate that they didn’t support me. I decided that I wanted to do this by myself and so sacrifices followed to earn the money to pay for the courses.
I can clearly remember the hours and hours of dedication, discipline and hard work I was put through by the grandmasters.
The days, the weeks, months and years of bruises, bleeding noses and broken bones added up as I trained with one aim - to achieve my dream.
Little by little I knew I was coming closer to my goal as I fought in various bouts and events in the Philippines and won.
But the true test was to come.
The 5th Asian Taekwondo Championships in Singapore was my first international challenge and all I can think of was to get into the arena and defeat my opponent. I was that confident or so I thought. Yet I forgot that the focus and concentration continues all the time. Mentally I was not prepared.
I lost the bout. It was miserable. I remember feeling like the world crumbled on me. All the hours of training, I asked myself, were they in vain?
The same happened at the next few international competitions I participated in.
Back in Manila, I would win with ease and yet struggled internationally on the international stage.
Slowly I began to realize that I was not strong mentally. I needed to put the discipline that I put into the hours of training into my mind to develop focus and motivate myself.
Soon I found myself preparing for my fights mentally. Before the fights, I would see myself facing off against my opponent in my mind and I would be creating strategies to counter him, to balance his power so that my prowess and skill would win the battle. I would create a reservoir of determination from within and when I step into the ring, it all flowed.
Still, I have to admit that the road for me had its share of temptations in the form of parties, girls, friends, drugs but my yearning to succeed had given me a sense of persistence in wanting to bring my dreams alive.
As a member of the Philippine National Team from 1982 to 1989, I would train 6 days a week, 3 times a day for a total of 6 to 7 hours a day. I trained in Korea as well. At that time, Taekwondo was not as sporty as it is today. It was rather brutal actually. There were no headgears, shin guards,/ arm guards and mouth pieces. We fought on wooden or cement floors instead of the rubber mats they use today. It was pretty hard core!
In 1985 my first major success came along when I won the bronze medal in the 7th World Taekwondo Championships. It gave me a world ranking of #3 in the lightweight division.
It paved the way for me to earn a place in the Hall of Fame in Kukiwon Taekwondo Center in Korea. It was a massive reward for me personally and ranks as one of my finest moments.
1986 delivered me the silver medal in the 10th Asian Games held in Seoul Korea. This placed me as the #2 in Asia in the lightweight division. It was honor.
Even prouder for me that year was the fact that I was the only Filipino in the Philippine National Team to bring home an international medal that year.
Whilst I then moved on to win medals at The Southeast Asian Games,/ 1988 was a memorable moment as a made my debut the Seoul Olympics.
Even if I did not win a medal, the experience was amazing. I made the quarterfinals before bowing out to the reigning Korean World Champion.
I became one of the first two Filipinos to complete in the debut year of Taekwondo in the Olympics. The honor of being and Olympian is unique for me. I would not trade it for any other success I have had.
Making the Olympics is truly a celebration of the human spirit. Everyone there is already a champion in their own right because to even qualify to compete in the Olympic games is quite a feat.
1989 marked year I would fight and win my very last international medal at the 15th SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.
Looking at that gold medal each and every time reminds me of my glorious moments and also that I retired.
But the truth is as an athlete the day will come that you must retire. It is a foreseeable fact. The wisdom, discipline and life lessons you acquire from being a successful athlete though is gold.
The values you learn stay with you for the rest of one’s life. For me that is so true.
Bringing my dreams to life came through a journey rooted by the desire to excel followed by persistence. Hard work, dedication, motivation, and inspiration was key.
Each and every medal counts for this journey. Each and every failure has also been the reason for my success for there is no success without learning what it is to fall.
The greatest strength comes form within when we stand up again and again whenever we fall and believe once more in our ability to excel. For you cannot be defeated in your quest unless you tell yourself so.
In ending, I would like to say that I am proud to have brought honor to my country and to all of you as fellow Filipinos.
I thank you for giving me this opportunity to share with you my journey. All of you have your own voyage and the destination may differ but the road will be the same if you want to bring your dreams to life. and it all starts with desire.
Monsour del Rosario
© 2008 Monsour del Rosario
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