EJ Obiena feted by Chiang Kai Shek College as 'treasure'

Rick Olivares - Philstar.com
EJ Obiena feted by Chiang Kai Shek College as 'treasure'
EJ Obiena with the author
Photo from Rick Olivares

MANILA, Philippines – In simple rites at his alma mater of Chiang Kai Shek College in Manila, Ernest John Obiena was given a send-off by the school’s Board of Trustees as well as his former coaches, teachers and alumni.

“Chiang Kai Shek College’s Board of Trustees and Alumni Association will be providing support for our son all the way to the Paris Olympics (in 2024),” bared CKSC President Jude Yap. “He is our treasure.”

“I was in Chiang Kai Shek College from nursery to fourth year high school,” pointed out Obiena. “This is my home. And they have my back. They have been supporting me all throughout. I cannot thank them enough. I know that CKSC’s focus is on basketball, but the fact that they are helping me, is not only good for my career but also for the school’s athletics program.”

As early as his fourth grade, CKSC’s track and field coaches felt that Obiena could be a generational talent.

“It’s hard to tell how good athletes will be at such a young age,” said his school athletics coach Arthur Fronda. “But EJ was already good.”

Added his other coach, Diana Sy, “Seeing how he has blossomed, it makes us feel proud that we were a part of his journey.”

Coach Gerwin Garay also shared that because of Obiena’s success, they no longer have to invite students to try out for athletics. “Kusa na ng students mag-try out. And ang dami na.”

Previously, CKSC was known as a basketball school as it has produced the likes of former PBA players Lim Eng Beng, Sunny Co, Justin Chua, Fran Yu, and JV Gallego to name but a few.”

“EJ’s success has made not only school officials but also the students to look at sports outside basketball,” added Sy.

Yap recounted a story that told of the challenges of a student-athlete during Obiena’s early years. 

“In the afternoon, we had Chinese language classes in school. Coach Emerson Obiena will say he has training for pole vaulting at Rizal Memorial Coliseum, but EJ’s Chinese language teacher would say, ‘he has class.’ But knowing EJ’s potential we made sure he got to train. But we also made sure that he attended his lessons and classes the next day. Give and take. The teacher said that EJ means a lot to her. She also supported EJ.”

And that support continued even with EJ’s much publicized spat with PATAFA. 

 “He is our son,” pointed out Yap. “Alangan namang pabayaan namin siya.”

Obiena is leaving for Europe next week where he begins his long and arduous journey to the 2024 Paris Olympics where he should be a favorite for a medal.

With this love and support not just from CKSC but from the general public, does EJ feel pressure to win a medal?

“Pressure is a privilege and an opportunity,” summed up Obiena. “That means you are doing something worthy.”

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