From Dreamer to Achiever: Bro. John Enrico Vasquez’s Inspiring Journey as a Filipino Athlete

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Have you ever experienced failure but still want to continue until you succeed? Has failure tried to stop you from reaching your dreams but you never lose focus on that end goal and that is to win? I had and I want to share with you my story.

At the age of 3 years old, I started to learn karate. My dad is not only my father but also my mentor into this world of karate. When I started learning karate, it was my father who acted as my sensei. He is the Chief Instructor of the Philippine Branch Wado Ryu which main headquarters is in Tokyo, Japan.

After a year of learning the sports, I started competing. It has always been a challenge and practicing is very hard. It was this time that I always experienced losing fights. Apart from the pain that I am feeling after every fight, it was the feeling of losing – feeling the pain of losing, I always cry to my father. I don’t want to lose because I want to be a winner because I know I am a winner. After a lot of losing in many competitions, I asked my dad to train me and train me harder this time. I know it will be hard, but I want to taste the joy of winning. After a year of hard training and many competitions lost, I became a national champion at the very young age of 5.

This is where my father saw my potential in the world of karate into becoming a national champion in the years to come. I’ve been winning in every national championship that I joined. Kata is the category in karate that I belong to. Kata is where a participant performs individually and should meet the competition criteria to win. At the age of 12, my dad put me into harder training in preparation for the qualifying competition for the Philippine National Team which is open for athletes ages 14. My father brought me to Japan, Singapore, and Thailand to participate in international open championships. Upon reaching the age of 14, before the qualifying tournament, we went to Penang, Malaysia where I participated at my very first high-level Kata training. I’ve been training for 8 hours a day with my resting time only in the afternoon.

All these hardships came into fruition when I qualified as the Cadet Athlete of the National Team Kata Pool A for 14 to 15 years old. It was a fulfilling experience that saw all my sacrifices be rewarded with a slot at the National Team. I’ve enjoyed the challenges and exciting experiences I encountered during my nine years with the Philippine National Team. I was able to travel to different countries and meet different nationalities. Participating as a representative of the Philippines is the greatest honor given to me and with every competition, either local or international, I always give my very best effort.

My nine years in the National Team further enhances my love for my country. Patriotism, which was also taught to me in the Order of DeMolay of which I am a proud member, will forever be a virtue embedded in my heart. My desire to represent the Philippines is my way of bringing honor to my motherland and I hope that the next generation of Filipino youth will carry with them our flag with great pride and honor.

I am proud to carry the Philippine flag in my competitions and honored to wear the Three Stars and a Sun over my chest. I will be forever thankful to represent the Pearl of the Orient and will continue to bring honor to my countrymen, showcasing the world-class skills and talent of a Filipino athlete in the world of sports.

Bro. John Enrico Vasquez (Author) is a member of Pangasinan Chapter No. 14. He is a recipient of numerous DeMolay awards such as the Past Master Councilor’s Meritorious Service Award, Founder’s Membership Award, Blue Honor Key, and a Louie Gordon Lower Centennial Fellow. He is ranked Number 3 in the Under 21 Male Kata Category in Asia, ranked Number 6 in the world, ranked Number 11 in the Male Kata Olympic Qualification for Paris, France, and a Bronze Medalist at the 2021 Southeast Asian Games in Ninh Binh, Vietnam. He has been awarded the Order of Lapu-Lapu Kamagi by Former President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

Credit to Bro. John Enrico Vasquez
Rephrased and Edited by Bro. Fatz Buenafe