By Lester Cavestany, Contributor INQUIRER.net Citius, Altius, Fortius (Faster, Higher, Stronger). -- Olympic motto THERE is a growing online movement to support Marco Torres in his goal of being chosen as one of eight foreigners/expatriates in China who will carry the torch for the Olympic torch relay. I think that with the growing number of bloggers and Internet users in the Philippines, we can all help make this happen. Click here to vote for him. If you didn’t click the link above, you’re probably wondering why we should support Marco Torres. You’re probably asking, “I don’t know him so why should I support him?” Good question! For most of us, the simple answer, “Because our countryman needs our support so that he can best all the other hopeful expatriates in China,” would suffice. But there are those who need more explanations before they give their support. So read on and I hope that after reading this post, you would be more than willing to support Marco Torres. What’s it all about? The 2008 Beijing Olympics is just around the corner. One of the most powerful ceremonies of the Olympic Games is the lighting of the Olympic Flame during the opening ceremonies. This tradition has been in place since the ancient Olympics in Greece and it has its roots in Greek mythology. The ritual was given a new twist in the 1936 Berlin Olympics when Carl Diem introduced the torch relay. Carl Diem was in charge of the organizing committee of the 1936 Olympics in Germany. He came up with the idea of the torch relay as a way of promoting the Games. His idea was magnificent: Use the ancient Greek tradition of the torch relay as a way of creating interest in the Olympic Games in Berlin. And so in 1936, a torch was lit at the site of the temples of the Olympic gods in Athens, Greece. In true ancient fashion, a “priestess” used mirrors to focus the rays of the sun to light the torch. Then, she passed it on to a torchbearer who would begin the relay. The torch was carried on foot within cities, and by other means of transportation between several cities in seven countries. After the relay, the torch was used to light the Olympic Flame to kick off the opening ceremonies of the 1936 Berlin Olympics. After the success of its introduction, the succeeding Olympics carried on the tradition of the torch relay, with more cities and torchbearers getting involved. For the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the torch will be lit in March 2008 and will be carried by about 15,000 torchbearers from around the world in 28 cities of five continents and over 70 cities of China. The organizers are also planning to take the torch to the peak of Mt. Everest (aka Mt. Qomolangma). Finally, the last torchbearer will use the torch to light the flames on the opening day of the Beijing Olympiad on August 8, 2008. The Olympic spirit If you enjoy watching sports and if you’re a fan of sporting events, then you probably know what the Olympics is all about. It is definitely the biggest sporting event in the world. Today, there are two Olympics -- the Winter Olympics and the Summer Olympics. Growing up in the beautiful tropics of the Philippines, I am more familiar with the highlights of the Summer Olympics. I mean, who can forget the valiant efforts of Onyok Velasco in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics? He was so close to winning the first Olympic gold medal for the Philippines. But it wasn’t meant to be. Nevertheless, we still rejoiced at his silver medal victory and we gave him a hero’s welcome as soon as he landed on Philippine soil after the Olympics. Many of us caught the Olympic spirit after Onyok’s heroic attempt. And we are still hoping that someday soon, we will strike gold in the Olympics. Twelve years down the road, the Olympic spirit is still burning in our hearts. And Marco Torres is definitely stoking the fire. He is truly an Olympics fan. In another weblog, he recounts the trials and tribulations of getting tickets for The Games in Beijing. He also joined the Lenovo-sponsored contest called Olympic torchbearer nominee selection among foreigners living in China. The contest The Torchbearer contest is open to all foreigners in China who have lived there for at least a year. Each participant has to meet the criteria set by the organizing committee and they have to submit an essay on why they should be chosen as one of the eight foreign torchbearers. The profile of the contestants and their essays are posted online on the China Daily website and the public is encouraged to vote. (Only one vote per IP address will be counted) By the end of November, the judges’ panel will announce the eight winners based on the number of votes received and their evaluation of the participants. Every vote counts so please vote for Marco. After voting, spread the word. You can also forward this post to your friends so they too can be convinced to vote for their countryman. The Real contest And as we support Marco Torres in his dream of becoming an Olympic torchbearer, let’s also extend our prayers and support to our Filipino athletes and their hopes of Olympic glory. Could this be the year that the Philippines will bag our first Olympic gold? I certainly hope so. However, it has to be said that winning medals is definitely not the be-all and end-all of the Olympic Games. It’s obvious that our society puts a premium on winning and being the best. But this is not what the Olympics is all about. In fact, the Olympic Creed says that The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well. As a school teacher, it brings me great joy to know that the value of participation is given its rightful place in a highly competitive event such as the Olympics. This is something we teach at our school too. We say to each student, “As long as you are participating and doing your best, then you’re already a winner!” With this in mind, I would like to congratulate Marco Torres for participating in this contest. I hope our kababayans will go online and support you all the way. I’m sure that the same online community that lambasted Malu Fernandez for bashing the OFWs will once again unite. But this time, we will unite for a more positive cause. We will rally behind Marco Torres for he is proudly representing not just the OFW’s, but the Filipino people! Half the battle is won. Now we just have to “Jedi Mind Trick” the judges. That’s something that we need to lift up to the Higher Power. Editor's note: You may visit Lester Cavestany's blog at www.lestercavestany.com
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