A shoeless triumph

By: Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

Determination. Just a kid out there always playing panaguay with her friends, determined to out-run her opponents to save herself from being “it.”

Discovery. During a try-out to be on the Salvacion Elementary School’s track and field team, a shy and silent girl accepted the challenge, only to be discovered by Coach Leone Tiosayco as a runner with immense potential.

Skill. The speed Rhea Bullos possessed is past average, a skill honed going back to her days when she used to go home a winner after every hide-and-seek session because she was always the fastest to tap the “base” in panaguay.

Blossom. Embracing Coach Tiosayco’s decision of putting her on Salvacion’s team, Bullos began to blossom and broke out of her shell during practice.

Inspiration. Going into their team’s practices challenged and laser-focused, all Bullos wants is to make her mother and father happy and proud, that was her daily inspiration.

Family. The second of three children of Concepcion and Jerry Bullos, Rhea cares about nothing but family every time she comes home from school and practice.

Simplicity. Living in a simple home, Rhea’s father is a construction worker, while her mother is a housewife and is the one who makes sure that all of them get to eat right.

Accustomed. Every practice, Rhea always thought that wearing shoes would make her feet feel uncomfortable, as if running with shoes would make her slower, so she was accustomed to running barefoot all the time.

Forced. Afraid of what may happen to Rhea’s feet, coaches Tiosayco and Bren Prasas persuaded Rhea to run with shoes, but Rhea refused, forcing her coaches to bend to what she was comfortable with.

Protection. Relenting to her request to run barefoot, the team decided to at least cover her feet with tons of plaster sheets to protect her from minor cuts and injuries.

Nerves. A first time representative from Balasan, Rhea admitted nerves came cracking soon as she set foot on the oval for the 2019 ISSC Meet.

Adrenaline. After the go signal, Rhea felt the adrenaline rush, not hearing a single sound, and her eyes were focused on the red surface of the Iloilo Sports Complex.

Clear. As the race neared its end, it was as if Rhea was seeing the white finish line clearer and clearer the closer she approached.

Hat-trick. After stepping on the finish line, Rhea looked back and found herself first, clinching her first ISSC Meet gold medal in three different events, a hat-trick for her.

Purpose. Weathered with mixed-emotions, the once speedy runner in panaguay will now be a representative of the Province of Iloilo in the upcoming 2020 Regional meet, and she finally found her passion.

Goal. After realizing that she had won three gold medals, in the 400 meter dash, 800 m, and the 1500 m run events, Rhea said she wants to be a champion and her goal is not only to reach the Regional Meet but also to be a member of the Philippine team.

Dream. Beyond anything else, although striving to be part of the Philippine pool someday, Rhea’s ultimate dream is to become a teacher, where she would love to give back the patience and the knowledge her maestras and maestros imparted to her.

Overwhelmed. When asked about the feeling she’s currently experiencing after all the support she received due to her viral photos as well as her achievements, she feels overwhelmed and thankful, and she will do anything to win and advance to the next level.

Support. Being an Ilonggo is more than setting foot in Iloilo and living here, it is the undying trait of being supportive that runs in our blood, and the support that the people are showing Rhea is the energy she feeds off of to keep running for the gold.

Flawless, and undoubtedly, a shoeless triumph.

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