Someone said wars bring out the best and the worst in people. The COVID-19 global pandemic is no different. It could either make or break you.
Filipino karateka Adam Ortiz Bondoc did what he had to do. He flew to the United States in June to pursue his goals, did short training, and made it as a member of the USA Karate team.
“I always believe in the saying, If you can dream it, you can become it, don’t let this pandemic stop you from achieving great heights. Take it as a hurdle, leap at it, and soon the road will be flat again and you will get there, said Adam, who is always grateful to his parents Alfredo and Pamela for making the right major decisions with him.
Adam confessed it was really a hard choice to make because he had to leave the Philippines where he was part of the national karate team before the pandemic distorted the state of affairs of the sport.
His mother Pamela said things would have been different under normal circumstances.
“Given that the scenario is not the same, no pandemic, normal school, normal training, normal life. We are still in the Philippines right now.”
Faced with an opportunity to try out for the USA National Team and pursue his studies in the United States, Adam, and his family were compelled to make a major decision during this difficult times of the pandemic.
What makes it hard for Adam was that he was planning to regain his slot in the Philippine national squad where he was part of the Kata Team that bagged a bronze medal in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
Then everything stopped the next year when the COVID virus took the world by storm.
After the SEA Games, Adam enrolled with the Dela Salle University for an Engineering course with the intent to continue training karate. When the pandemic hit hard, it was never the same.
“He tried training (karate) via zoom, school via zoom, but it was just not the same. The park was lost, dreams were lost, and so was hope. He focused on school for the entire 2020-2021 school year, and since his course was demanding, he set aside karate for a while,” shared Pamela.
All this time, the family’s friend coach in the US, Ramon Veras, never stopped communicating with them. He invited Adam, who has dual citizenship, to take part in the September 2021 US National Team Selection.
He was offered free training camp and accommodation and complete arrangement that was too good to decline. Adam packed his bag for Houston last June and three months after, found himself competing against the best of the best in America.
Fighting in the National Karate Championships Team Trials was no joke, according to Adam, he was not only fighting against the Americans, he fought with men who were also former national players from countries like Dominican Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Russia, Japan, China.
“They happen to be just like me, with dual citizenship and whose dream is to have that American Dream.”
Good thing for the 20-year-old Adam, he competes both in the Kata (forms) and the combat Kumite. He took the bronze in the Juniors Kumite and the silver in the Juniors Elite Kat.
His bronze medal finish in the Kata Seniors Elite Individual category, though, has earned him a slot in the US National Team.
Adam has always been grateful for his deep roots of karate to his Filipino coaches, especially to the Shihan Pochol Veguillas, considered as the Father of the Philippine karate.
“The technique he has inculcated to all my sensei in AAK is impeccable, they just passed it on to us their students. His fatherly figure, tough love, strong heart for this sport and the thirst and strive for perfection made us not settle for being a mediocre, but instead an achiever.”
He also mentioned SEA Games silver medalist sensei Sonny Montalvo, former world champion Karate Pilipinas head coach Shihan Okay Arpa and sensei Veras who made him a complete karate athlete.
Adam’s beginning in the sport was accidental. His mom Pamela, who is also a performing arts teacher said that when Adam was bullied in his grade school, he wanted her son to take up martial arts, initially thinking about taekwondo which was also a famous combat sport at that time.
One day she was walking at a mall looking for medals for her upcoming event, then she accidentally entered an establishment with trophies and medals displayed at the window. What she thought of as a shop that sells trophies and medals turned out to be a dojo, a karate school named the Association for the Advancement of Karatedo.
“Those medals and trophies spoke for them, I knew that my son will get the best training that I was looking for. True enough, yes he did,” said Pamela.
“Just to share, during his first day of class, he said he doesn’t want to go back there because the boys were wearing skirts, he was referring to the Karate Gi.”
For someone who started as young as seven years old, it’s no surprise that Adam will go a long way in his chosen sport.
“So the fact that I’m here and part of the (U.S.) national team as well gives me great joy and a sense of accomplishment throughout my years as a student-athlete. I sometimes feel that I am still in a dream, if I am, don’t wake me up.”
What’s next for Adam?
He plans to transfer and pursue his Engineering degree with the Houston University and will compete in the US Open karate in January 2022.
For all his achievements and future feats, Adam said he will always carry the same Filipino warrior spirits because “Ako ay Filipino.”
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