JC “Toto” Tiaga-Mariano: Young Athlete with A Big Dream
…and a staunch believer in Jesus
By Apolinario Villalobos
At seventeen, JC Mariano, one of the star athletes of Lyceum (General Trias) in Cavite has a big dream – to become an engineer in the field of Information Technology. During the NCAA Season 90 he garnered 3 bronze medals, and for the latest Season 91, he earned 1 silver and 2 bronze medals all in the track and field events. And, for such feat, he profusely thanks his coach, Marc Basuan. Aside from his running prowess, he also dribbles and shoots basketball ball with learned precision. He is a member of the team composed of the youth of Barangay Real Dos of Bacoor City.
The afternoon I found my way to the snacks counter of his mother, Arlyn Tiaga who hails from Aklan, “Toto” as JC is fondly called by his family, just arrived from a basketball practice. I was lucky as he came home early that afternoon, and got surprised by the unannounced visit. I found out that he makes it a point to go home early to lend a hand to his mother whose small business is their bread and butter. His mother confided that the snacks counter that she has been tending for more than ten years now is the only source of their financial support. Summer days bring a little more than enough money, as the most popular is “halo-halo” – fruit tidbits in milk and shaved ice, a cooling snack.
JC who is a full athletic scholar of Lyceum (General Trias) is in Grade 10. Unlike the other youth of his age, he has no vice and prefers to stay home when there is no practice in their school on the track or basketball at the court of the Perpetual Village 5. He is a “New Christian’ by heart and in action. He confided that Jesus has always been part of his life – his guiding Light. He is serious in his studies that not even the tempting pleasure of bumming around with his buddies could distract him. Without even saying it, his statements imply his big dream which is to lavish his mother with comfort soonest as he starts earning. Her mother from whom he and his brother learned the virtue of discipline has been raising them singlehandedly.
During our short talk, JC recalled that he had his first running experience when he was in Grade 6 at the Imus Pilot Elementary School. A teacher who noticed his promising athletic talent assisted him to undergo a tryout for an athletic scholarship when he was about to enter his second year high school at Lyceum (General Trias). That tryout was impressive because a school representative visited him at home to advice that he passed it and that he was to report for enrollment and training right away. That hard-earned scholarship was the start of his interesting journey as a struggling young student with a big dream. On his third year, Marc Basuan who also has a son on athletic scholarship made him part of the school team for which he served as the official coach.
Before we parted, JC confided that, “all the recognition that I have received, I owe to my family and coach, and of course to Jesus…”, who is obviously guiding him while trudging along the road that leads to success. He added,” I will definitely share with others what I have learned from my mentors…that will be the time for passing on the blessing…” The same thought was also expressed by his basketball coach, Ian Paredes-Atrero, who is likewise, a true “New Christian” by heart and action. As a young man, JC, plays hard and gives his best, but aims high for his future and beloved family….all in the name of Jesus!