WHEN we first learned of the quirk of the rules of international chess that allowed Wesley So, a Filipino, to play for the US Federation, we always knew that the time would come that he’d eventually be a full-fledged American.
Still, learning that he has now become a US citizen hurts a bit.
Perhaps, it’s because it hits home when he says that staying here wouldn’t have given him the connections to be where he is now, the world no. 9.
Perhaps, it’s also because we see him fulfill a dream that some of us entertain especially in these trying times?
That the best way to a better home is to leave home?
We all know that story. We’ve seen it first hand. Almost all of us has a brother, sister, cousin, friend or classmate who has taken up a new citizenship.
We all know why they did it. We all know why they are too happy for it.
We all know that it’s good for them.
Wesley’s divorce from the Philippines started because he dared make a choice in which tournaments to join.
He spoke of politics and corruption in sports associations here and we all know they are there. Why would folks who are better off enjoying their retirement years fight tooth and nail to retain their positions?
But of course, just like our brothers, sisters, cousins, friends or classmates who have taken up new citizenships, we will always see Wesley as a Filipino and we will always feel that his success is the country’s success.
If we feel pride whenever we find out some guy or gal in a singing contest abroad has a tinge of Filipino blood, then surely we will feel the same when Wesley So conquers the world stage?
Wesley’s case reminds me of another major miss the country had because of short-sighted leaders.
Maxime Rooney, one of the US’ most promising swimmers touted to be the next Michael Phelps, is the grand nephew of a former Lapu-Lapu City mayor. In his teens, his parents contacted Philippine swimming officials to tell them he wanted to represent the country.
He was brushed aside and now he swims for the US.
I hope the case of Wesley and Rooney will teach our sports leaders a lesson. We put so much emphasis on our OFWs in saving our economy and of them being heroes but when it comes to their descendants, in the case of Rooney, or to those who would have wanted to stay, in the case of Wesley, we treat them poorly.
I know hindsight is 20/20, but I hope we learn to recognize our jewels before other countries snatch them from us.