This Azkal is Globe ambassador for sports
Of the Philippine Azkals, we are familiar with the more media-savvy members, especially the Younghusbands, but there is one man who made a big contribution to the Azkals’ success and helped earn the national football team its current fame and glory.
That he is 100-percent Pinoy should make us even prouder of him. A versatile booter and soldier, Emelio Caligdong, “Chieffy” as he is fondly called by his teammates, is a left winger for the Philippine Air Force Football Club (PAFFC), vice captain for the Philippine Azkals and sometimes plays as a striker or supporting striker. As player of the PAFFC, he is an enlisted airman of the PAF.
Born on Sept. 28, 1982, in Pototan, Iloilo, Chieffy proved to his countrymen that once again one’s grassroots and race don’t matter to giving honor and pride to your country, as he, together with his team, opened the door to local sports buffs to a game that has never been popular in our land — football.
A 2002 graduate from the University of San Agustin with a degree in commerce (management), this Ilonggo football star recalled his humble beginnings.
“I started playing football without spikes, barefoot. At the age of nine, I competed in the Palarong Pambansa and other regional tournaments. I was in grade four at that time, so the school provided regular equipment, and that’s when I got my first football shoes. Very few people watched our games but that did not deter us and we persevered until we started to be noticed,” Chieffy reminisced.
When he was in second year high school, Caligdong became part of the Under 21 team that represented the country at the Bolkiah Cup. He made his debut in the 2004 Tiger Cup, playing all four matches and scoring three goals. Two of those goals came in the 89th and 92nd minute in the 2-1 win over Timor Leste, making it the first-ever victory of the Philippine team in the Asean Football Championship.
Chieffy is proof that you don’t need to be tall to do well in sports like football. Only five-foot-and-five-inch, he wasn’t intimidated by his opponents, and he managed to even outrun even the tallest football players like Palestinians and Mongolians.
“In football, what is needed is speed and skills,” the 28-year-old Azkals member stressed.
A veteran in the international arena, Chieffy has been with the Philippine Azkals in football competitions held in Asian countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, Malaysia and Vietnam.
When the Philippine Azkals faced the Mongolians in Bacolod City last year, Caligdong made sure Filipinos would remember him. In that match, Chieffy scored an awesome tunnel shot between the goalkeeper’s legs which left the crowd in shock.
Being co-captain of the Philippine Azkals, Chieffy always advises his teammates and those who want to follow in the footsteps of the team that they must put in hard work and discipline in training. According to him, the key to his success is putting his heart and passion into all his endeavors.
“Always give your best and develop confidence and dedication, these will assure success in the games of life. We are truly blessed, thank God. Many blessings came; it feels great that we have become popular, but I always remind my teammates to remain humble and to keep their feet on the ground,” Chieffy said.
He is true to his words, because he has remained simple, generous and maintained a low-profile despite his team’s blessings and popularity.
In recognizing this, Globe Telecom has named Chieffy as its newest ambassador for sports in its campaign for sports development and advancement, specifically in the promotion of football as a national sport.
“We are very excited to welcome Chieffy as part of our roster of ambassadors. Chieffy will play a very significant role in driving our sports advocacy of supporting Philippine teams from the grassroots and sporting events with meaningful social development goals,” said Ernest Cu, Globe president and CEO. “Chieffy is living proof that a homegrown talent can figure prominently in the international sports arena, giving all of us Filipinos the pride and honor of being represented by a passionate sports icon like him.”
Chieffy will provide mentorship support to the Green Archers Globe Football Club, a national football team supported by Globe. He is expected to share his expertise and experience in the sport, which will definitely give the team members the motivation and inspiration when they play in the next United Football League.
“Globe has been supportive of Philippine sports and it’s a great honor to partner with them. And add to that, as one of the best players in Philippine Azkals, Chieffy will be a great contribution for my team to inspire them better,” Manchu Garcia, Green Archers Globe team manager, said.
Chieffy will also help in strengthening the different sports teams composed of Globe employees as well as participate in various corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs which will further maximize his skills, presence and influence.
“As CSR champion, we will tap Chieffy to lead and conduct football clinics and engage a bigger group of stakeholders to help raise awareness in the hope of generating more pledges for our The Entire Nation (TEN) Moves campaign,” said Rob Nazal, head of Globe CSR.
TEN Moves is a campaign to raise enough resources to build 10,000 classrooms in public schools all over the country, with a main strategy of getting two million people to donate P10 per day for 10 months.
Chieffy confided that there are still so many things that he wants to achieve. He revealed his wish to give back all the blessings he received to others like him who are less fortunate in life. On top of that, he, in partnership with Globe, will lead a football league in his hometown, to teach and share to his kababayan what he learned in sports and in life as well.
Life is one great football game for Chieffy, who passed through many obstacles and challenges with perseverance until he reached his goals and reaped the fruits of his success. By Jaimes R. C. Sumbilon,