“Thelma” (the movie) is inspired by stories of valiant Filipino athletes who are discovered in remote provinces of the Philippines. They are the ones who strug gle through insurmountable odds to represent their country in the world stage and in doing so excel.
The film is a full-length feature set against rolling hills and rural landscapes. In this instance, it showcases beautiful scenery of the Ilocos region in northern Luzon. The story portrays a young and simple lass called Thelma whose family is beset with hardships and challenges. Then, she discovers her uncanny gift of speed which eventually opens doors for her, ones that elevates her family’s cir cumstances and changes the course of her own life.
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Many people run away from their problems by holding on to crutches like drink, gambling, drugs and what not, but in Thelma’s case she ran to fix them. To accomplish that, she had to overcome all obstacles thrown into her path, sur mount personal hindrances, battle shadows from her past, and overcome her own self-doubts.
A special appearance is also made by the legendary Filipina athlete Elma Muros who coached the film’s protagonist actress Maja Salvador for several months to help her transition into the credible runner for the movie. For those who don’t know or even bother to remember, Elma Muros won an astonishing 15 Gold Medals in South East Asian Games and was also a competitor representing the Philippines in the long jump event at the Olympic Games in 1984 and 1996. She is the only track athlete who won in different events and is hailed as one of the Philippines’ sport greats – a hero in her own right.
Born January 14, 1967 in Magdiwang, Sibuyan Island, Romblon to a farming family, she was 6th in a brood of nine. Her real entry to professional sports came early when at 14, she competed and caught the attention of local government agencies eyeing potential athletes for regional sports competitions.
In all the years she competed, Elma remained steadfast and dedicated in her career as an ASEAN (or region-wide Southeast Asian) athlete. Her hard work did not go unrewarded either. She accumulated more than 200-medals and has been cited by different organisations in the Philippines and abroad for the distinctive honours she won for her country.
Asked which is the most special medal she’s won, Elma avers, “Lahat ng medalya ko espesyal sa akin, ginto man o simpleng ribbon lang yan, kasi pinag hirapan ko lahat yan“ (English Translation: All my medals are important, gold or simple ribbon, because I worked hard to get all of them.)
In the movie, she fittingly plays a cameo role as coach ‘Rose’ but as a legendary Philippine athlete; Elma is a sought-after talent also for TV commercials, which she chooses carefully before accepting any such assignment.
Here, she pays tribute to her own mother while her daughter looks on.
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Retiring after 21-years in athletic competition, Elma is still running strong as a mother, wife and coach and sports consultant. Even with her stature, she re mains a humble and warm person and gets flattered with interviews and meet ing with fans.
So how does a bemedalled athlete like Elma see Philippine sports a few years from now?
“Mahirap sabihin. Kailangan may unity. At may continuity sa training lalo na sa national athletes. Kasi nandoon na sila. Kapag may nakikita na silang athlete na magaling, tutukan na nila. Yun namang nagsisumula pa lang, kailangang tulungan ng local government at DILG dahil kailangan din nito ng financial support. Kulang din kasi minsan sa incentives. At sa mga athlete din kasi, kailangan ang dedication, at tamang ensayo. (English Translation: It’s hard to say. Unity is important. So is continuity in the training of athletes, especially those who have already reached the top or national level. Those who are just starting meanwhile need help from the local government and Depart ment of Interior and Local Government (in the Philippines). They need financial support and incentives. At the same time, the athletes should show dedication and right training.)
Elma’s consistent message to her numerous sports admirers and young aspiring athletes who want to follow her footsteps?
“Walang imposible sa isang atleta na determinado at gusto ang ginagawa nila. Pero kung tamad siya at walang dediskasyon sa ginagawa niya, walang pa tutunguhan.” (English Translation: There is nothing impossible for a deter mined athlete and one who enjoys what one does. But if you are lazy and don’t have dedication to what you’re doing, nothing will come out of it.)
In cooperation with: Abracadabra and Underground Logic
Produced by: Time Horizons Pictures
Distributed by: Star Cinema
Maja Salvador “Thelma” A Film By Paul Soriano
Starring: Maja Salvador and Tetchie Agbayani, John Arcilla, Eliza Pineda, and Sue Prado
Special Participation by Elma Muros and Jason Abalos