MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/15 February) – It was a fitting Valentine’s Day gift to a nation reeling from the impacts of successive disasters and grappling with the unfolding drama related to the reported misuse and abuse of people’s money by high officials. Michael Christian Martinez, a 17-year old figure skater from a humid country, delivered a performance considered impressive enough for his age, at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Overall, Martinez, the first Southeast Asian to compete in figure skating in a Winter Olympics, scored 119.44 to settle for 19th place among the 24 finalists. He managed to lead the first six finalists, not bad for a neophyte from a country that sees no winter who vied with seasoned skaters from around the world.

With his gutsy performance, he became the darling of the press in Sochi, although media’s interest in him owes in part to the story of how his family made sacrifices to put him on the world stage.

Every Filipino who watched him perform would have wished he made more triple Axels (a term I only came to know last night) and other stunts to earn more points. But that’s expecting too much from a first-time competitor whose talent is just beginning to emerge, like a bud that promises to become a beautiful flower but still without the fragrance that attracts the birds and the bees.

Here’s a lad who has captivated the world with his dreams to dance on the world stage. Indeed, figure skating is a dance, except that it requires a great amount of athleticism and grace. You lack in either athleticism or grace – or both – better kiss your dreams goodbye.

But Martinez knew even when he was still nine (or was he younger?) that he had both, and so pursued his dreams to the coldest corners of Russia. The first time he saw a skating rink, he could sense that’s where he should carve his destiny. To live is to glide, spin and leap with an athlete’s strength and a ballet dancer’s poise.

To see a good skater perform is like reading fine verses. You’d always want to ask for more – more lines from the poet, more gutsy moves from the skater. A poet cares not about the rules of language and grammar, and even invents words, if only for his thoughts and emotions to shine through. A skater defies the laws of gravity and friction, and that’s how he outshines the crystal surface below his feet.

Come 2018, perhaps Martinez can already shine his brightest and give the world the best in him as a figure skater. But that’s for him to figure out. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at