DAMASCUS, SYRIA - After bagging all the gold medals in Tartous, Syria, thirteen-year old Filipina-Syrian gymnast Reema Palada Aljondi won three coveted medals in the National Gymnastics competition at at the Al Fayhaa Gym in Damascus, Syria on 18-19 March 2022.
The Philippine Embassy in Damascus, through the leadership of CDA Vida Soraya Verzosa, supported Ms. Aljondi and awarded the following medals as the Filipina-Syrian athlete smiled from the podium: Overall Individual Performance (Silver); Uneven Bar (Bronze); and Floor Routine (Bronze).
Beating even the Syrian national team gymnasts, Ms. Aljondi showed athletic prowess as early as two and a half years old. Due to her hard work and discipline, she was ranked 2nd in the entire country under her age group. She was also the only athlete with Southeast Asian heritage in the entire competition.
When asked what her secret to being a champ is, Ms. Aljondi humbly replied: “the secret is to have faith in God and a supportive family, with my wonderful coaches, like Nisreen Hamad. I had the will to challenge [myself] and become the best gymnast. From my family, I learned to have faith in God, don't give up, accomplish goals, and stay positive.”
Her winning attitude bore fruit when she won her first championship in 2017 in Tartous and won two more National Championship medals in 2021.
Ms. Aljondi recounts that it was her Syrian father who encouraged and registered her to train in gymnastics, which she came to like and enjoy instantly. But just like any other athlete, Ms. Aljondi also faced hurdles stating that “gymnastics is a very difficult sport and it needs practice, discipline and hard work as well, because there is some risk to fall and have injury. There are many levels you need to develop from one to ten that need a lot of practice.” Despite the challenges, Ms. Aljondi overcame them because of her supportive family and faith in God.
Ten years from now, Ms. Aljondi sees herself as an inspiration to her fellow youth to play sports and sees many of her goals accomplished. She is also a good big sister to Eimar, her 8-year-old sibling who is also a budding Filipina-Syrian gymnast.
Ms. Aljondi’s mother, Ms. Imee Palada Aljondi, a member of the Filipino Community in Tartous, hails from Bacolod City. Feeling nurtured by the Ilongga family-oriented, loving
and caring mother, the gymnastics champ happily shared that she feels truly blessed to have a Filipino mother.
Damascus PE honored Ms. Aljondi by awarding her a Certificate of Commendation, gifting her with a “Philippines” Sports Jacket, and Filipiniana gift items after a celebratory lunch.
The Philippine Embassy continues to support sports events in Syria involving Filipino nationals, as part of the Agreement on Cultural Cooperation Between the Philippines and the Syrian Arab Republic signed in 2009.