Tuesday, June 15, 1993
My super dad
FRANCISCO "Tatang" De Vega, women sprint ace Lydia's father, has been
coaching her for 16 years and spent so much money on him and his daughter
that he cannot say how much.
And he is still at it, coaching and spending, all because of his love
for his daughter and athletics.
But he has one more reason why he and his daughter are still at it - to
prove to Filipinos and burcreacy that they can still go on and produce
results despite the poor financial support they get.
In fact, Tatang and Lydia are seriously calling it quits after the
Singapore Sea Games - provided that Lydia wins the double: the 100m and
"We have gone through some hard times over the 16 years, but we want to
prove that we can still carry on and produce results despite the poor
support we get," said the 66-year-old Tatang.
"But I have to thank some individual and private sponsors who have been
supportive to keep us going."
The fact that Lydia is married with a four-year-old daughter and still
running is proof of their determination.
"I am lucky that my son-in-law (Mercado) also thinks like us and wants
Lydia to continue. There were times when Lydia had wanted to call it
quits, but he got her to keep at it and even presuaded me a couple of time
to carry on when I was contemplating throwing in the towel."
Tatang said that although he had encountered financial problems, running
into hitches with athletics national sports offcials, having to face the
critics who were quick to critise when things were not going well for
Lydia, he has always derived his satisfaction when Lydia does well.
It all started 16 years ago when Lydia as a 12-year-old was spotted by
her school teacher as a potential athlete and fielded in her schools meet.
"I went to see her run in her school and I too thought she had a natural
ability to become an athlete," said the former policeman.
"It was then I decided that I will personally coach Lydia. But then I
did not have any coaching abilities in athletics. So I decided to attend
athletics coaching courses which saw me paying for it as I went to Japan,
the United States, Singapore, Indonesia and Japan.
"Then later the Philippines AAA also sent me for a few courses.
"It has been long hours of work, sacrifices, sweat, tears and pain, but
I have no regrets," said Tatang who, after quitting the Police Force in
1965, became a goldsmith.
While making gold jewellery, he was spending an equal amount of time and
money to shape the uncut diamond - Lydia - and he has certainly made her
polished and shining over the years.
Lydia who won her first Sea Games gold medal at the 1981 Sea Games in
Manila and has gone on to win it at the 1987 Games in Jakarta with a
personal best of 11.28 which is the Games record and won it for the third
time at the Manila Games in 1991.
Lydia is the fourth in a family of six - three brothers and three
sisters. He is the eldest among the sisters.
Lydia's mother, Mario Sarto, plays the role of housewife and gives her
morale support, advice and love by staying in the background.
"I owe my dad a great deal. For the last 16 years he has toiled for me
to make me become what I am in the athletics circle and is still at it.
"I am thankful to God for giving me such a father. And I hope that I
will have an eventful outting in Singapore as a parting present for him,"
said Lydia without wanting to elaborate.