Diagramming the Etch

 ©Active Sports Photography

After 26 years of existence, Leonard Rondina is finally in that exact coordinate that is explicit of his realities.

Leonard or Onay is a native of Baler in the Province of Aurora. He grew-up in a family where even the basic of family needs are hardly met. But, he’s not complaining of life’s offering.

He finished high school; never entered college. Still, there’s no complaining.

He fished the seas for livelihood. And, there’s no complaining still.

There was not a single point worthy of complaining. The poverty that had stricken his family made it impossible for him to go to college that urged him to fish the sea that forced him take that swim. It was also the same culprit that made him opt to save for a bike and rode his way to school back in his high school days.

Onay’s journey into sports technically started with the self-taught skill to swim. His graduation from elementary school commenced his duties to assist his father in fishing. And fishing requires excellent swimming skills to survive the trade.

This also meant a long break from his schooling.

His family lives along the coast lines of Baler. The natural abundance of the seas provided livelihood that earns for the family – the only source of income. His hometown is surrounded by captivating sceneries in natural forms. These have earned the place a spot in the must-visit places for local and international tourists. The influx of tourists also saw the emergence of sport events in the area. Baler is known internationally as a surfing hot spot of the country.

Then, came fun runs.

Onay found delight in every run organized in his hometown. He particularly enjoyed the fun runs and found the rewards to be more than fulfilling because winning these runs translates to means of providing for his family.   

These kept Onay running – the fun, the prize and the fulfillment of having provided for his family. The amount of prize money did not matter, big or small, it came in as a huge help for the family.

The only pair of shoes he had was worn-out. But that pair carried him through finish lines and podium spots. He was not mindful of how degraded this pair had become after the runs – because of the rewards. In return, he showed care for that pair of soles that seemed to gain value in his soul. There were lots of times he saw himself sewing parts ruined by the passing of time and by friction in runs raced.




 ©Leonard Rondina


But triathlon sets a different story for the shoes, it had to be accompanied by a bike. This one must have was provided through a friend’s generosity. A member of a biker’s club in his hometown heeded his request for a one-event borrowed use.

The first finish line he crossed was a big turning point in Onay’s life.

He found his niche.

And, a coach found him.

It has been a long journey and it was just the beginning. He asked for opportunities that will make synonymous Rondina with triathlete par excellence. The shoes had taken a place in the family’s home; rested and full of pride despite the physical condition.

Perhaps, the etch has already been made.                                                         


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