Good evening distinguished guest, ladies and gentlemen.

I am indeed privileged to be amongst all of you here in this room for this Manulife
Philippines recognition dinner.

As an athlete in the martial art sport of Taekwondo who has been through the
struggles to succeed, I truly do understand the meaning of 'Go the Distance'.
However, this evening I would like to take you on a journey. It is perhaps apt that it
follows from 'Go the Distance'. It's an excursion that begins and ends with the dreams
that we have. The road may differ but the journey itself will be enriching and the
rewards will be bountiful.

First and foremost, it begins with desire. My desire was to become a Taekwondo
champion on the world stage and a champion of the people in this country. As an
individual who has come through the rigors of a broken home to succeed and reach
the heights of the Southeast Asian Games, Asian Games, World Championships and
the Olympics, I can share with you that this journey for me has been one that has only
been possible because it started with a desire. The road was a long one for me and I
recognize it from the start.

As a child my interest in the martial arts started out with a fascination for Kung Fu
movies and I also had a hero in Bruce Lee. The fact that I was also often bullied in
school was of course an added motivation to learn an art that will help me defend
myself. Those were the traces of the early beginnings. They were hard and difficult
days. Despite my family's ability to provide for me financially in my quest, it was
unfortunate that they didn't support me. I decided that I wanted to do this by myself
and so sacrifices followed to earn the money to pay for the courses. I can clearly
remember the hours and hours of dedication, discipline and hard work I was put
through by the grandmasters. The rise to become a world class athlete, Olympian and
a champion obviously had a toll on me.

The days, the weeks, months and years of bruises, bleeding noses and broken bones
added up as I trained with one aim - to achieve my dream. Little by little I knew I was
coming closer to my goal as I fought in various bouts and events in the Philippines
and won. But the true test was to come.