On Spotlight: Lucian Antonio Alejo – The Champion Unleashed

Tonito Alejo at the ASTC Singapore Internal Marathon. Photo Credit: Lucian Antonio Alejo

Tonito Alejo at the ASTC Singapore Internal Marathon. Photo Credit: Lucian Antonio Alejo

It was a fine morning of June 6, 2016. I was on my way to Capitol Commons to meet the Alejos, who just arrived in Manila from their week-long vacation in Singapore. It was the first time that I would meet the whole family. Right outside the Pancake House in Capitol Commons, Ton approached me and led me to their table. There I met his sister Alex, his mom Tita Charis and a bit later, his dad Tito Boyet.

I met Lucian Antonio Alejo, or Tonito or Ton, back in 2014 when I did the on ground coverage of Alaska Ironkids in Cebu.

Unlike most junior triathletes, Tonito joined triathlon at a later age in his hometown in Iligan City. Having no background in swimming, he fast-tracked his swimming lessons so he can make it to his first triathlon race a few months away.

After finishing his first race, Tonito developed his love for the multisport and at the same time he wanted to attend the regular school. However, he had to make a tough and wise decision and a few considerations have to be made. Because when he chooses to attend regular school, he won’t have much time to train for triathlon. And for someone who had the passion for the sport, Ton chose the home study program so he can have more time to train and even join triathlon races without compromising his education.

Ton was 13 when he had his first taste of the Alaska Ironkids race which was held on April 13, 2014, in La Stanza, Marikina, where he ranked ninth among the boys in the 13 to 14 age bracket, completing the course in 45 minutes 13.67 seconds (Swim 400m, Bike 12km, Run 3km). He then joined the Alaska Ironkids in Cebu on August 2, 2014, where he ranked sixth in the Boys 13 to 14 age group, with a finish time of 35 minutes and 20.7 seconds (Swim 300m, Bike 9km, Run 2km).

Tonito Alejo during the run leg of Alaska Ironkids Subic, March 2015.

Tonito Alejo during the run leg of Alaska Ironkids Subic, March 2015.

Back home, Ton trained doubly hard and joined other triathlon races. During the Alaska Ironkids held in Subic on March 7, 2015, he missed to bag the third spot by just a second, placing fourth with a finish time of 32 minutes even (Swim 300m, Bike 9km, Run 2km). I can still vividly see him sprint to the finish line.

At 14, Ton had only one shot left to make a mark in the Alaska Ironkids triathlon race. The Alaska Ironkids Cebu held on August 1, 2015, was his last race in the local franchise of Ironkids. Confident with his training, and with his sister Alex and parents in mind, Ton was ready give all the best that he had. His determination to bring home his first Alaska Ironkids trophy and mascot didn’t falter. Not a single bit, as he had always wanted to give Alex that stuffed toy.

When I got off the service car (provided by Ford) straight from Mactan International Airport, I bumped into none other Lucian Antonio Alejo, who had the good news for me!

Among the 36 boys in the 13 to 14 year old category, Ton made a bang with his second place finish in 45 minutes 51.4 seconds, which put John Caleb Barlin in the third spot. His race stats: Swim (400m) – 00:08:13, Bike (12km) – 00:22:34, Run (3km) – 00:15:06. Very impressive! Now, this one’s off his bucket list.

I remember telling him, “What a great way to cap off your final year in the Alaska Ironkids program!” Indeed! Personally, I am so happy to see him achieve his goal because I knew that he worked hard for it. And I can only see a modest grin in his face whilst he said “Thank you po.” Such a fine kid.

Looking at his past Alaska Ironkids races, he improved tremendously from his 9th place in April 2013 to an awesome Second Place finish in August 2015. Yet, Ton has always remained grounded. Still calls me Kuya even when he’s way taller than I am!

Meeting the Alejo Family: Tita Charis, Tonito, Tito Boyet and baby Alex.

Meeting the Alejo Family: Tita Charis, Tonito, Tito Boyet and baby Alex.

Tonito Trivia
  • He can mimic an accent. He can talk in an Indian accent. Though his favourite is Craig Alexander’s Aussie twang.
  • He looks up to Crowie Alexander.
  • One day, he wants to join a Kona Ironman World championship race.
  • He can sing.
  • He can dance.
  • Awarded Athlete of the Year by City Sports Office, Iligan City Government
  • He saved up his cash awards to buy his gears.
  • He is under a home study program through SEIBO College
On Life After Alaska Ironkids
Tonito Alejo at the Dipolog Triathon 103. Photo credit: Dipolog Triathlon 103

Tonito Alejo at the Dipolog Triathon 103. Photo credit: Dipolog Triathlon 103

After his stint at the Alaska Ironkids, Tonito continued his triathlon journey joining sprint distance races like SUBIT, NAGT CDO Leg 3 (First Place) and in the most recent ASTC Singapore International Triatlon, which was also his first international race.

Currently, Ton is part of ActiveHealth Junior Elite Team (Unilab) under Coach Ani de Leon-Brown and Coach Dan Brown. Speaking to Coach Ani, she only has encouraging words for Ton. Whilst his good form is a big plus, he needs to fine tune his focus on training and in his races. With his abilities and talent, there’s a big world of opportunities waiting for him.

Ton, always put your best foot forward in everything that you do. I’m glad to know you’ve found your passion and it’s where you heart belongs to, and you have amazing parents and sister to always motivate you. Continue to be an inspiration to everyone as you’ve found your strength in your weakness! Cheers!

On Spotlight: Luigi Miguel Santos, Jr. NBA All Star & Alaska Youth Ambassador 2015

Thousands have aspired. But only 50 boys have made it to the Jr. NBA-WNBA presented by Alaska National Training Camp. And from a pool of 50 campers, only ten have made the final cut of the Jr. NBA Philippines All Star. And it wasn’t about luck. It was all about their skills, their passion for the sport and their values on and off-court that got them that far.

Miguel Luigi Santos joined the Alaska Powercamp to further improve his basketball skills. He joined the special selection camp for Alaska Powercamp participants and advanced to the Jr. NBA-WNBA presented by Alaska Philippines National Training Camp.

After three days at the National Training Camp, his hardwork, determination and good attitude paid off. On Spotlight, here’s 2015 Jr. NBA Philippines All Star and Alaska Youth Ambassador Miguel Luigi Santos.

Miguel Luigi Santos: 2015 Jr. NBA Philippines All Star & Alaska Youth Ambassador

Miguel Luigi Santos: 2015 Jr. NBA Philippines All Star & Alaska Youth Ambassador

How did basketball get into your system?
Luigi: My dad inspired me to play basketball. It started when I was 9. I was just shooting some hoops in our village. I just fell in love with the game.

You made the cut of the Top 10 of the Jr. NBA Philippines All Stars. How did you feel about it and what are looking forward to?
Luigi: I feel great. I look forward to be a better player and follow the footsteps of the great players.

What are the things you learned from the Jr. NBA-WNBA Philippines?
Luigi: It taught me to stay humble and be friendly. Sleep early, stay focused and follow what the coaches say.

In basketball, you don’t get to win always. How do you cope with the challenges of losing the game and staying out of focus?
Luigi: I get full support from my parents.I always talk to my parents, and pray.

What is your message to all aspiring young basketball players?
Luigi: To all young boys out there, stay humble and be focused on what you do.

Basketball practices can take so much of Luigi’s time and he knows he has to do his best during the National Training Camp. He also knows that academics is as important as being the best player. So he makes sure he has time for school. How does he do that? Luigi apparently has a good time management. He goes to practice after school and does his homework when he gets home.

A champion is the one who makes time for school and finds time for his passion. At such a young age, Luigi definitely knows his priorities. And that alone makes him a champion.

On Spotlight: Miguel Kristoffer Competente, Jr. NBA Philippines All Star 2011

One of the things I look forward to during the Jr. NBA-WNBA presented by Alaska Philippines Tip-off ceremony is meeting the program alumni. And I’m so glad that I always get the opportunity to sit down with them for a small talk.

From his hometown in Davao, Miguel Christopher Competente travelled al the way to Cebu City on his back in 2011 for the Jr. NBA Philippines presented by Alaska Regional Selection Camp. Well, all his trainings and practices and his parents effect paid off. He advanced to the National Training Camp, and made it to the Top 10 Jr. NBA Philippines All Star Team.

Miguel Competente, Jr. NBA Philippine All Star 2011

Miguel Competente, Jr. NBA Philippine All Star 2011

How old are you when you started playing basketball?
Miguel Competente: I started playing basketball maybe when I was 5 years old. My dad’s the one who taught me to play basketball.

Was there an instance that made you think about quitting basketball?
Miguel: Maybe when it’s a bad game or when I lose focus. But I would think about why I started.

What kind of support did you get from your parents?
Miguel: My parents are very supportive. I joined the Jr. NBA Philippines Regional Selection Camp in 2011. I was 14. And there was no Jr. NBA Regional Selection Camp in Davao that time. My parents booked me a flight for Cebu just so I can join.

What is the impact of Jr. NBA Philippines on you?
Miguel: It really did change my life. Because there were a lot of opportunities.

What have you learned from the program?
Miguel: The STAR values. Respect for coaches, other players, parents.

On Jr. NBA Experience:
Miguel: We went to Hong Kong. It was fun. We really had a good time and we learned a lot. We felt like NBA players for a week. It feels great to be part of the Jr. NBA Philippines program.

What is your message to all aspiring young basketball players?
Miguel: First, if they want to quit, just remember how they started. And don’t give up. There’s any vacant time, they should work hard. There are always a lot of people who make sure they get better everyday.

Miguel currently plays varsity basketball for University of Sto. Tomas.

There you go, kids! If you have the passion and love for the sport, be determined like Miguel Competente and be a Champion!

August Benedicto: A Struggling Young Kid Who Soon Made Podiums

Take a look a this video as August looks back to his humble beginnings.

Growing up in the countryside, life was not easy for the young August Benedicto. He developed a passion for running, which brought him to “eat roads for breakfast”. To help him with his financial needs in school, he sold ice in the neighbourhood before going to school. His situation did not deter him to dream and his aspirations guided him to take the track which led him to where he is now.

From being an ice vendor, August Benedicto not only created ripples but great waves as he made podium finish in triathlon races. He is a two – time Ironman 70.3 Cebu Filipino Male Elite Champion.

August Benedicto proved it that perseverance, determination, and hardwork will take you where your dreams are.

Be inspired. Run Happy!

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