February 1, 2023

Two Cordilleran para-athletes proudly waved the Philippine flag in Surakarta, Indonesia after contributing four medals in the 11th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Para Games held July 30 to Aug. 6. 

All the way from Benguet, Denesia Esnara bagged two bronze medals for the total lift and best lift in powerlifting women’s 50-kilogram category on Aug. 1, according to the Philippine Sports Commission.

Also contributing to the 104 medal haul of the Philippine contingent is wheelchair racer Jerrold Mangliwan of Kalinga, who earlier won the country’s fourth gold in the men’s 100-meter T52 race.

Mangliwan added another gold when he emerged champion in the para athletic men’s 400-meter T52 race.

The 41-year-old para-Olympian started his foray in wheelchair racing in 2009, which was a way for him to test his strength and ability after acquiring paraplegia (inability to voluntarily move the lower parts of the body) from polio.

He won his first medals at the ASEAN Para Games in Singapore and won two gold medals in the 100 and 200-meter T52 races, plus a silver medal in the T52 400-meter competition.

After a year,   Mangliwan qualified to represent the country in the Rio Summer Paralympic Games in Brazil as part of the five-man Philippine para-athletes team.

He placed seventh overall in the 400-meter T52 wheelchair race, and also joined in the 100-meter T52 event.

Mangliwan was also named the country’s flag bearer in the opening rites of the 2020+1 Tokyo Paralympics set on Aug. 24.

The para athletes competed in 14 disciplines, most of whom competed in their first international meet after five years, giving their best-ever finish of 28 gold, 31 silver, and 47 bronze medals. This year’s host Indonesia is on top spot with 175 gold, 144 silver, and 107 bronze medals followed by Thailand with 117-113-88; Vietnam with 65-6-55; Malaysia with 36-20-13; and the Philippines. – Ofelia C. Empian