Carlo Paalam on silver medal feat: It’s the symbol of my life

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 8) – From collecting scrap metals for a living to an Olympic silver medalist, 23-year-old Filipino boxer Carlo Paalam punched his way to success amid life’s challenges.

As he received his medal on Saturday, Paalam proudly wore the glinting silver metal and glanced at it for a long time.

Simbolo kasi siya ng buhay ko po. Nangangalakal lang ako dati, tapos may connect siya sa buhay ko,” Paalam reflected in a press conference on Sunday.

[Translation: It is the symbol of my life. I collected trash and recycled scrap metals before, then I realized that the medal has a connection to my life.]

The Tokyo Olympics medals are made of metals from used mobile phones, an irony not lost to Paalam, who had been rummaging through the dump heaps of Cagayan de Oro City looking for scraps to recycle when he was discovered by a boxing coach.

Elmer Pamisa, who has been Paalam’s coach since he started boxing at age 7, said he cannot believe that his prized fighter had won an Olympic medal.

Nagbunga na talaga ‘yung [paghihirap] naming dalawa,” Pamisa said, his voice cracking with emotion.

Paalam hopes that his Olympic silver medal feat will become a testament on how perseverance can eventually lead to success in life.

Yung medal na ito, galing sa ni-recycle na gamit ng mga gadget na sira. Parang buhay ko rin po, nawasak man pero nabuo rin,” said Paalam.

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