Samboy wheeled on stage
Lim, 57, collapsed on the bench after playing briefly in an exhibition game at the Ynares Center in Pasig, lost consciousness, suffered cardiac arrest and was admitted in emergency at The Medical City without a pulse.
Samboy wheeled on stage
Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - July 5, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — PBA legend Samboy Lim would’ve skywalked his way to center stage in his prime but now wheelchair-bound, he was in tears when his daughter Jamie was called up four times at the UP graduation rites at the Diliman Amphitheater recently.

Lim, 57, collapsed on the bench after playing briefly in an exhibition game at the Ynares Center in Pasig, lost consciousness, suffered cardiac arrest and was admitted in emergency at The Medical City without a pulse. He was revived and placed on therapeutic hypothermia for 48 hours to prevent more seizures. Lim eventually slipped out of a coma but has remained paralyzed, unable to see and speak.

Lim and lawyer Lelen Berberabe were proud parents when their daughter went up the stage to be recognized for summa cum laude honors, as the valedictorian of the College of Science, as the recipient of the Joker Arroyo medal for best in Math and as the speaker in behalf of the graduates. 

“Samboy was wheeled in and stayed in front with the faculty of Science,” said Berberabe, herself a UP summa cum laude graduate. “For the first three times, he came in from backstage where there was a ramp and Jamie and I walked in from the other side.” Berberabe said Lim wouldn’t miss attending Jamie’s graduation for the world, no matter his condition.  

“Samboy had tears,” continued Berberabe. “We arrived at UP about 1:30 p.m. and the program ended about 4:30 p.m.” Lim wore a protective mask to prevent any source of infection and a hat. His eyes were shut tightly as if to hold back the tears when he was brought on stage as the audience applauded. An ambulance would’ve been on standby but campus rules didn’t allow it. Berberabe arranged for an ambulance on call. Lim was accompanied by a nurse and a physical therapist.

Jamie’s general weighted average of 1.073 was the third highest in the entire UP Diliman system. Although she has been accepted to join the faculty of the UP Institute of Mathematics, Jaime still hopes to represent the Philippines in karate as a black belter. Karate will be introduced as an Olympic sport in Tokyo in 2020. Her dream is to follow in Lim’s footsteps as a national athlete in a global event.

A recent medical check-up in the hospital showed Lim’s condition to be stable but unchanged. His feet and hands have atrophied. He undergoes physical therapy thrice a week and occupational therapy once a week.  

In her valedictory address, Jamie paid tribute to her parents. “I grew up in a home filled with love, support and kindness,” she said. “I have the most wonderful parents who are successful in their fields. My father is a sports legend, the Skywalker of Philippine basketball. My mother was a summa cum laude graduate of philosophy in this university. To me, they are simply Mom and Dad, my heroes who taught me the value of dreaming big but to be a good person above all.

“Growing up, I was more an athlete than an academic. My parents enrolled me in karate when I was six years old. I didn’t like it. Three years of joining tournaments, lagi akong talo. After three years, I won my first tournament. That was the start of my fruitful journey in karate. I won in national and international tournaments and earned my black belt at the age of 18. In grade school, I was hardly an honor student. What I had for sure were the values which sports imparts, such as discipline, grit, focus and excellence. Today, I receive an honor that no one thought would be possible, not even I. Indeed, when nurtured in an environment that is safe, loving and inspiring, dreams can become reality.

“Let us keep in mind that, wherever we may go, or whatever we do, our work must benefit our countrymen, in one way or another. Let us remember that it is through our thoughts, our words and our actions, wherever we may be, that we can honor our nation and give a good name to being a Filipino.”

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