MANILA, Philippines – Daniela Reggie “Dadai” Dela Pisa just made history for winning Philippines its first Rhythmic Gymnastics gold since 2011, the same year she started competing.
But the road to winning the gold medal in the Hoop Individual and the bronze in the Ball and Clubs competition was tough and lonely but her battle towards where she is now was ten times tougher, but never a bit lonely.
After being named to the Philippine Team following her outstanding performance in the Vigan City Palarong Pambansa and in the Philippine National Games in 2018, the young Dela Pisa started to live by herself at the National capital, leaving her parents and siblings back home in Cebu City.
Although her uncle, Aldrin Castaneda, the coach of the Men’s Artistic team was there for her, Dadai had to battle homesickness while striving hard to polish and improve her craft. Her thirst for additional knowledge led her to Europe and into the arms of Hungarian Rhythmic Gymnastics Olympian Dora Vass.
The gold medal in SEA Games is just the start for the 16-year old former member of the Team Cebu City Ninos, as her journey to the complex and intricate world of grace and balance, Rhythmic Gymnastics has just started.
However, what she has achieved today had nary a shade of a depressing childhood. Thankfully she had her parents, Darlene and Randy and her older brother Randall (her younger sister Stephie was not born yet), and her relatives and friends were by her side at all times.
At a very young age of 4, Dadai battled with her life after she was diagnosed with an ovarian cancer, which is said to be common for woman aged 63 years old and up but rare for women below 20 years old and very rare for toddlers.
Dadai battled a stage 2 cancer that put her training on hold until she turned 7.
“Dadai is a late bloomer,” her mother and first coach Darlene told iNews.PH “At four years old she had an ovarian cancer. Her right ovary had to be removed and she underwent chemotherapy after the surgery. After she was cancer free, she started training at 7.”
According to Darlene, Dadai’s older brother Randyl kicked her on the abdomen while the two argued. Since then, Dadai complained of stomach pains, and that’s where they found that the eventual SEA Games gold medal winner had cancer.
“The doctor said it (the kick) did not cause it. It was already there, and the kick was a sort of a blessing in disguise because it helped us discover that she had cancer at an earlier stage,” Darlene continued.
Although the details of her battle with that sickness were vague for Dadai, it was very vivid to Darlene and she believed everything has its reason, and the way how Dadai gets her life to the fullest is what matters now.
Darlene personally trained her at the age of eight and it was an ordeal for Dadai as Darlene treated her as one of her students, but has to do a little more because she was her daughter.
“She got no special treatment. She is just one of my many students. They had to follow the same training program. When I had to shout at them, Dadai was no exception. In fact she had to do a little bit more because I wanted the best of her, because she is my daughter,” Darlene admitted.
Dadai’s formal training started for the Milo Little Olympics in 2011 where he got her pair of medals. Since, there was no stopping the young Dela Pisa.
The Milo Little Olympics was Dadai’s stepping stone as she continued to reap medals for Cebu City in the Central Visayas Regional, the Palarong Pambansa, in five Batang Pinoy National Finals and the Philippine National Games. And now a gold medal for the Philippines in the SEA Games. /RCM