Oslo, Norway – The Philippines’ Aquino government, in an apparent move to focus attention away from its failure to provide financial help to its lone athlete in the Sochi Winter Olympics, has offered some money to help with the expenses of Norway’s first Olympic figure skater in 50 years. The skater, Anne Line Gjersem, is half Filipina, born to a Norwegian father and Filipina mother. Gjersem’s mother, Perlita Bangug, hails from Ilagan, Isabela in Northern Philippines. Anne Line has a twin sister who is also a figure skater.
The Aquino administration has come under fire after it was revealed that it had not provided a single penny to help with the expenses of the Philippines’ and Southeast Asia’s first Olympic figure skater, Michael Christian Martinez. Presidential spokesperson Herminio Coloma has been on the defensive about Martinez’s case, telling reporters that budget allocation, competitive edge in sports, and lately, spam mail, were among the reasons that Malacañang (the Philippine presidential palace) failed to support Martinez’s Olympic quest.
In a diplomatic cable sent to the Oslo government, President NoyNoy Aquino said: “On behalf of the proud Filipino people, please accept our offer of PH 44,000 Pesos to go towards the Olympic expenses of Anne Line Gjersem who is of Filipino heritage. We will be cheering for Gjersem when she takes to the ice this week.” (PH 44,000 pesos is roughly U.S. $1,000).
Norway sent Aquino an immediate cable reply, saying “Thanks, but no thanks.”
Gjersem is the 15th skater to perform at Wednesday’s Figure Skating Ladies’ short program.
(Update: Gjersem made it to the finals and finished 23rd out of 24 skaters in the free skates.)