PHILIPPINE Olympic Committee (POC) President Abraham Tolentino promised Fil-Am alpine skier Asa Miller a house and lot in Tagaytay should he snare a medal in the Beijing Winter Olympics set on Feb. 4-20.

Although the congressman from Tagaytay knows the field is ultra-competitive, he is not discounting the possibility of the 21-year-old Mr. Miller, the country’s lone bet to the quadrennial event, pulling off a surprise.

“Remember what I gave our Olympic medalists — the gold, the silver and the bronze? I gave them a house and lot each in Tagaytay. Get one,” Mr. Tolentino told Mr. Miller during a meeting with Mr. Miller at the National Alpine Skiing Centre atop Xiaohaituo Mountain on Wednesday.

The PhilCycling chief was referring to the ones he gave weightlifter Hidilyn F. Diaz, who delivered the country’s historic Olympic gold in the Tokyo Games last year, and boxers Nesthy A. Petecio, Carlo Paalam and Eumir Felix D. Marcial, who copped a silver, silver and bronze, respectively.

Those were apart from the monetary rewards the Olympic medalists received from government and the private sector.

“The gold medalist [Diaz] got was more than a million dollars (P51 million),” said Mr. Tolentino, who was the first POC president in memory to attend the Winter Games since the country started qualifying athletes to the meet in Sapporo, Japan, in 1972.

Mr. Miller, whose giant slalom event is unfurling on Feb. 13, vowed to give it all.

“I’ll do my best… there are lots of best skiers out there. It takes time, I have to build and take the process,” said Mr. Miller, who thanked Mr. Tolentino and the Philippine Sports Commission for bankrolling his campaign.   

POC chief legal counsel Billy Sumagui accompanied Mr. Tolentino in the trip.

With the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics happening this month, Bank of China and SM Supermalls have partnered to celebrate and support the Philippines lone entry in the Winter Games, Alpine skier Asa Bisquera Miller. He will be competing in the men’s slalom and the giant slalom.

With support from the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), the Philippine Skating Union (PHSU), the Philippine Olympic Committee, and the Chinese Embassy, Bank of China Manila and SM recently showcased some of the country’s best ice skaters in the newly iced SM Mall of Asia Ice Skating Rink. Entitled “Together on Ice,” the campaign seeks to bring more visibility towards winter and ice sports, a rarity in a tropical country like the Philippines.

According to PSC Commissioner Celia Kiram, these initiatives are especially important in today’s current context. “Despite the limitations of the pandemic, we need to continue and support our Filipino athletes, as well as promote the moral values that come with sports. Because sports promote community — something that has been missing for a lot of people during this difficult time.”

“We’re thankful for organizations and activities that actively promote winter and ice sports in the Philippines, especially since we have no winter,” said Jim Palomar Apelar, president of the Philippine Ski and Snowboard Federation. “This is an important step towards attracting more Filipino athletes to the fold.”— Joey Villar