To My First Love

I’m sorry I left you.

I’m sorry that in a way, I gave up. Years of togetherness failed to convince me to stay forever. But despite my absence, your love is still well-felt. It has been years since I left, but your presence never left.

June 2017
June 2017

I’m sorry for the times I wanted to hang up on you. For the times I may have muttered under my breath how much I disliked spending time with you ‘again’: because it meant skipping another opportunity to spend it  with my family, read my chapter books, run across the evergreen empty lots in the nearby subdivision, hang out with my classmates in school, let alone get extra time for sleep simply because I was perpetually exhausted. For the times I am tired and weary – physically (bruises, cuts, peeled or calloused skin, twisted ligaments, sheared or ached muscles, hard falls on my tailbone and back pains to name) and emotionally (failing to meet target goals, unable to achieve an objective for the day/month/competition season, etc. or even some caused by stress in school). Despite such, we still spent time together. We were always together.

People liked us together. So did I. I hope you did too. Perhaps you wouldn’t stick around this long if you didn’t.

I’m sorry for the indefinite leave that became definite, eventually. Trouble on my knees kept coming back despite months of rest. Adolescence happened, other matters squished themselves in my hectic schedule – in essence, life happened. Perhaps, I realised that the distress on my knee turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It was an epiphany. Somehow, I saw that there were more things in life yet to be discovered other than the cold, icy world that I have spent with you for years since I was four.

We took our relationship seriously after we met two years later. I was young. Very young. Perhaps back then, I failed to realise what I got myself into, but boy. What a roller coaster ride. This month, it will be 18 years since I decided to take this commitment seriously. I have had no regrets since.

We may not be “together together” anymore, but a part of you will forever be with me. These apologies of mine come with thank you’s.

Summerskate 2003. My second ice skating competition.
Summerskate 2003. My second ice skating competition.

Figure skating, you literally shaped my life. An overweight four-year-old eventually shed the extra pounds from (initially) playing Shoot The Duck around the rink that, through the years, became power stroking classes and two and a half to three-minute programs. Years of being bullied for my appearance (particularly my weight) gave me a solace to run to during my formative years. As I grew older, you were still that perfect de-stressor from tackling more mature obligations. The simple, cold breeze on my face as I glide through that icy surface was – and will always be enough – to let go of life for a bit. The joy of being able to land jumps, execute spins and make it through step sequences were the extra cherries on top despite my disrupted attendance at the rink. Truly, the world outside of me stops when we’re together.

Thank you for the competitiveness that you taught me. This was developed from joining competitions. Thank you for my hustle to work. This, on the other hand, came from training rigorously. The ethics I garnered from the sport greatly apply to how I go about my life now. It has always been a balancing act with you – in and out of the ice.

The friends and family that I gained from the sport will forever be a part of my upbringing and the person I am today. I do believe that people come and go. I am blessed that most of the treasured people in my life – and the ones who stayed – are the ones that I met through you. Some of whom I’ve been through hell and high waters. Some who have seen a vulnerable Ysabel as an athlete and as an individual. Some who have rejoiced with me through my victories as a skater and as a person. You’re a perfect bridge to life-long relationships. For that, I thank you.

Thank you for the opened doors. Before, I used to think that you made my world feel so small and it will always feel that way not unless I get myself out of it. I realised later on that you have granted a lot of opportunities – from feature articles, television interviews, production performances, encountering influential personalities and honing my passion to teach others how to skate, you never fail to surprise me with what you have up your sleeve not just in the literal aspect of sports.

Thank you for welcoming me back anytime. Despite my shortcomings, my breaks, my leaves, my infrequent visits, you still welcomed me into your arms, embracing me with your breeze all around. You have always been home to me. Always.

First international competition Skate Singapore 2003
First international competition
Skate Singapore 2003
ISI Worlds 2005 Los Angeles, California WOW! Philippines Production
ISI Worlds 2005
Los Angeles, California
WOW! Philippines Production
Birthday Celebration at the Rink Around 2005/2006
Birthday Celebration at the Rink
Around 2005/2006
Goofing around in between ice skating lessons Between June - August 2007
Goofing around in between ice skating lessons
Between June – August 2007
Training for ISI Worlds 2009 San Jose, CA
Training for ISI Worlds 2009
San Jose, CA
Training with two-time Silver medalist David Liu July 2009 Sun Valley, ID
Training with two-time Silver medalist David Liu
July 2009
Sun Valley, ID
My ice skating BFFs - Denz, Angela and Bea 2010
My ice skating BFFs – Denz, Angela and Bea
2010
'Smile' | Summerskate 2011 One of my favourite programs feat. my favourite spin and form Choreographed by Dale Feliciano
‘Smile’ | Summerskate 2011
One of my favourite programs feat. my favourite spin and form
Choreographed by Dale Feliciano
20th Anniversary of SM Ice Skating September 2012
20th Anniversary of SM Ice Skating
September 2012
"Just for fun" October 2013
“Just for fun”
October 2013
Manila Figure Ice Skating Club Photoshoot 2014
Manila Figure Ice Skating Club Photoshoot
2014
PH Nationals 2015 Coach Dale Feliciano, Angela, Me, Bea, Coach Ronan Capili
PH Nationals 2015
Coach Dale Feliciano, Angela, Me, Bea, Coach Ronan Capili
Interview at ANC's Game Time about Pyeongchang 2018
Interview at ANC’s Game Time about Michael Martinez’s performance at Pyeongchang 2018
Judging Skate Philippines Summer Championships 2018
Judging
Skate Philippines Summer Championships 2018
My last competition – Philippine National Figure Skating Championships 2015

They say that the first love never dies. This flame of love that I have for you will never be extinguished. After all, the cold never bothered anyway.

Happy 18 years!