CULTURAL POTPOURRI| Chino Sy Tancontian, Davao’s Emerging Golden Athlete

OH YES, I’ve been thoroughly captivated by the way the martial art of judo is performed. The deft handling of the opponent, the dance-like and purposeful movements that lead to the almost acrobatic feat of throwing off the enemy… Oh sure, other martial art forms can do all these and then more but judo is literally “the art of softness” in making one’s opponent yield. This martial art is more than a century old which evolved from the Samurai class of feudal Japan as a method of defeating an armed and even armored enemy without the use of weapons. The Japanese samurai developed techniques for neutralizing opponents that include throwing, tripping, joint locks, holds, disengagements, striking, kicking and choking. It was only in 1964 that judo became a part of the Olympic Games officially.


CHINO Sy Tancontian during his Moving Up Ceremony at the Davao Wisdom Academy where he was a scholar

“Judo is not only a form of healthy exercise especially for self-defense but a truly good way of instilling discipline in kids. I would rather have my children, Sydney and Chino, involve themselves in the practice of judo/jiujitsu/wrestling rather than lose their valuable time playing computer games, gimmicks or wandering around in malls,” said martial arts teacher Paolo Tancontian, the judoka who once distinguished himself as the youngest judoka to ever earn his black belt in the Philippines. Naturally, sensei Paolo eventually became a most valuable player of the judo national team.

It was sometime in 2008 when I first joined Paolo’s judo class at the Holiday Gym. It was then when I met his eight-year-old son, Chino Sy Tancontian, who could best be described as a fragile, frail-looking, handsome boy who always had that cute smile that made his eyes disappear into slits.  Chino was always determined to train religiously as he was so eager to compete and outdo his older achiever of a sister, Sydney.


CELEBRATION time (l-r):  Janet, Chino and Paolo Tancontian with Michael E. Dakudao

Not surprisingly, Chino won his first gold medal in the 2009 Pan Asian BJJJ Tournament in Manila at the age of eight years. “But my house rule even then was that Sydney and Chino should balance their academic classes and maintain their grades for them to be allowed to practice judo. Chino is good in Math. He is always excited about competing in local and international judo/jiujitsu/wrestling tournaments just as much as his older sister, Sydney,” revealed Janet Sy Tancontian as she added, “I am not the pampering type of a mother. Just like our parents before us, I teach my kids to be independent and disciplined. I want them to be able to stand on their own even without us by their side. They’re good and diligent kids who have gotten sports scholarships for their education. I am truly proud of them.” And unlike most of the millennial kids, Sydney and Chino are well brought up and respectful especially towards their elders. I’ve always considered the two as my special niece and nephew whom I’ve grown to be very fond of over the years.


BATANG Pinoy Champs Sydney and Chino Sy Tancontian with their gold medals

It was only two months ago, after my long absence in the judo arena, when I got to see Chino again almost daily in the gym for workouts. The young 16-year-old athlete has transformed into a towering hunk armed with an even more pronounced determination and perseverance. He wanted to improve and prepare his body as he has become a member of the National Team that will compete in the Southeast Asian Junior and Cadet Wrestling Championship to be held in Thailand this April 1-8, 2017. Chino will be competing in three events namely the Cadet Greco-Roman Wrestling, Beach Wrestling and Freestyle Wrestling.

Chino is an official member of the Wrestling Association of the Philippines (WAP) upon the invitation of WAP President Alvin Aguila and Secretary General Marcos Balda since last December, 2016. WAP has probably seen the bright potential in the young Chino who was proclaimed as an Outstanding Athlete and awarded by the Davao City Mayor’s Office for his winning a gold medal in judo and another gold medal in wrestling during the 2016 Batang Pinoy National Games held in Tagum last November 26-December 2, 2016. Chino also won four gold medals during the three-day URCC 2016 United Wrestling Championship held at the Mall of Asia in Pasay, Metro Manila last November. In this Manila competition, the amazing Chino had veteran judo and jiujitsu athletes for opponents as there were no candidates for his age and weight categories who participated. Indeed, Chino is truly deserving of the Special Citation Award for Jiujitsu given to him by the prestigious So Kim Sheng Sports Foundation through the Davao City Sports Council this month.

“Chino is one of Davao’s emerging athletes who has so much potential of making Davao City truly proud. The young man is disciplined, so hardworking, persevering and determined to win,” said Dindo Amper, Chino’s bodybuilding trainer at the Holiday Gym. “In the two months that Chino trained with me, he rigidly followed the program that I made for him and continuously worked even without my supervision. He’s just different from the other guys his age. He has the makings of a truly good athlete we can be proud of,” Dindo told me a few days before he, himself, left to work as an instructor in a Dubai gym.

“Sir Mike, let’s re-bond again after all these years,” Chino told me. We did for two months where I took it upon myself to nourish him with good food and whey proteins to prepare him for the important competition in Thailand knowing he will be starving in expensive Manila during his training at the Rizal Coliseum where he will be staying. It’s the least I can do for the good boy. The text message I got from Chino a few days after when he left for Manila for his rigid training with the Philippine National Team was, “Sir Mike, jusme, ang gastos pala dito sa Manila. My body is aching all over all the time from the rigid training I am undergoing here. Please pray for me, Sir Mike, that I win.”  I called him up to boost his morale and reminded him that this time, he is no longer competing for his family or for Davao City but for our beloved Philippines. Therefore, it is a “No Retreat! No Surrender!” situation he is in. I also assured him that, win or loose, he will always be my champion.

Davao City’s Chino Sy Tancontian and the other members of the Philippine National Team leave today for Thailand to compete. I am keeping my fingers crossed that Chino Sy Tancontian, the once little boy of judo I was so fond of, will win gold medals for the country just as his ate Sydney did in Singapore, this early March, 2017. These two Tancontian siblings are definitely working hard with the conscious responsibility of continuing the Tancontian family’s judo legacy in Mindanao. And I am so proud of them and I am their declared fan and supporter. Here’s hoping our sports officials, Butch Ramirez and Mikee Aportadera, are, too.

Thank you, dear Janet Sy Tancontian, for the pictures. Love you.

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