No dream is too big and no dreamer is too small.
Who would have thought that a simple “pulot boy” would eventually become a commercial player for an international string equipment sports company?
Meet Gilbert “Kiwi” Paylado Jr., a 17-year-old boy who earns his wage mostly from being a tennis-ball picker (pulot boy) in a tennis court in Brgy. Magugpo Poblacion, Tagum City, just adjacent to where he has lived since he was seven.
His heart for playing lawn tennis led him to be the official representative of MPCES three years in a row. He was a representative for Davao Regional Athletic Association during grade six and in his first two years in high school in Tagum City National High School.
“Nagsugod ko dati ug palu-palo sa pader tong bata pa ko. Niapil ko sa sa gi-conduct ug sports training na isa ka bulan. Human ato, naga apil na ko ug dula nga competition na ug nakadula nako sa Marawi ug usahay sa Surigao (When I was younger, I started with “walling” [spiking or hitting the wall with the tennis ball]. I also joined a sports training seminar conducted by our barangay. From there, I joined games and competitions, like in Marawi and Surigao),” he says.
“Naa koy nakauban ug karon naga-trainer na sa uban. Nag top siya dati sa national games, ana siya gusto niya naa daw mosunod sa iya mao to naga pursige ko kay gusto ko maparehas niya (I met someone who played well and coached others to learn the sport. He topped in a national game before, and according to him he wanted to look for his successor. I played hard because I wished to be like him),” he shares.
Right after his “pulot” duty, Kiwi would automatically move onto the court and enjoy the rest of the day hitting tennis balls as they would crosses from his opponent’s court. “Nagdula-dula ko sa una na wala jud koy sariling gamit pati sapatos na pwede nako gamiton pang-dula so naka sulay ko mag-tiniil (I played before without my personal equipment, even a pair of shoes, so I often played barefoot),” he says.
“Mahinumduman jud nako nga naghimo kog raket nako pina-agi sa plywood nga gihulma (I can still remember when I used improvised round-shaped plywood as my racket),” he adds.
Unfortunately, Kiwi eventually had to stop studying since his father, Gilbert Sr., got seriously ill and died on November 10, 2014 due to tuberculosis meningitis.
“Ana ko ka papa na muhuman jud kog eskwela ug magpadayon sa tennis basig mao diay ni akong swerte (I vowed to my father that I would finish my studies and continue playing tennis; it might be my fortune),” Kiwi shares.
“Dili ta dapat mo-surrender sa mga problema, go lang nang go (We should not give up in the face of challenges. We should keep moving),” he says.
Now, Kiwi is enrolled in the Alternative Learning System program, pursuing his goal to finish his studies. He also helps his mother with their business, and then plays during weekends with his teammates in Tagum City Lawn Tennis Club.
Kiwi is about to sign a contract with Babolat Philippines, based in Kamuning, Quezon City. As he grabs this opportunity of a lifetime, he can use official Babolat tennis equipment and wear different Babolat tagged apparel in his future games.
Kiwi hopes that this opportunity may this lead him closer to his dreams.
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