The sport of gymnastics has deep and broad historical roots. Countries known for advancing the sport, such as the United States, Rome and Russia, have produced numerous Olympic medalists. The Republic of the Philippines has not fared as well in gymnastics, and at the Olympics, Filipino competitors do better in the sport of boxing. Still, the nation has done much to support the sport of gymnastics.
The Philippines is a small island country in Southeast Asia. The nation has a population of more than 92 million. Organized athletic programs in the Philippines had their beginnings in the establishment of the University of the Philippines in 1908. All students were required to participate in at least one sport. In the decades following the opening of the university, student athletes, including gymnasts, were nurtured and trained.
Construction of facilities for indoor athletic training at the university started in 1916, and several additions to improve the facility were built in following years. Rafael Palma, the fourth president of the university, encouraged the development of the athletic department, and it was his mission to advance both male and female athletics.
A university cheer squad preceded the gymnastics program at the university. The squad was a fusion of gymnastic-type tumbling moves mixed with dance. Later, two university staff members, Candido Bartolome and Francisca Reyes Aquino, became key in the development of a gymnastics program..
As a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association of the Philippines and director of the university, Candido Bartolome did much to advance the sport of gymnastics in the nation. Bartolome secured support for gymnastic competitions at the university, and he helped other organizations in the Philippines develop their own programs.
Francisca Reyes Aquino, a member of the Bureau of Public Schools and a folk and rhythm dance educator, contributed to the early training of gymnasts at the university. Specifically, she infused gymnastic routines with dance moves unique to the culture. She also wrote guides for gymnasts and raised the profile of the sport throughout the nation.
The Republic of the Philippines does not rank exceptionally high in the world when it comes to gymnastics. However, many young competitors from the Philippines train in the United States and go on to represent their native country in the Olympics. In addition, supporters of youth athletics, such as Children International, a worldwide humanitarian organization, sponsor gymnastic hopefuls from the Philippines.