Official Publication of the Philippine Information Agency Bicol Regional Office, in cooperation with the RIAC-REDIRAS - RDC Bicol

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Feature: First Filipina Chess GM visits hometown of Legazpi

By Julius B. Embile

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 26 (PIA) – Today, local officials and residents of this city welcome its new hometown hero and pride Janelle Mae Frayna, the first and only Filipina chess grandmaster.

Frayna, originally from Barangay 16- East Washington in Legazpi City, is also currently the youngest to have ever achieved the title at the age of 20.

On her arrival today on her home-city, Janelle was received by a homecoming reception headed by Legazpi City mayor Noel Rosal and members of the city’s local government, along with crowds of supporters and members of the press. The chess master’s visit, however, is only a one-day event as she is scheduled to fly back to Manila for a college examination.

“The city (Legazpi) is in great gratitude to Janelle, as she brought us big honor on a worldwide scale”, said Mayor Noel Rosal earlier today, during Frayna’s reception. On a brief ceremony, the city government of Legazpi awarded Janelle a certificate of recognition and a cash gift.

Maximizing the limited time available, Janelle is scheduled to attend a series of engagements today, arranged in her honor. Frayna is to attend a motorcade for her to be seen by her supporters, and a press conference later on for the local media.

Last September 11, Frayna made history when she defeated international chess master Daavademberel Nomin-Erdene during the 42nd World Chess Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan. On a gripping match-up, Frayna outplayed the Mongolian Erdene on the ninth round of the said championship, earning the Filipina the coveted grandmaster title.

"It is by hard work and perseverance, add up to the discipline, that I was able to achieve this feat. It didn't happen in an instant, but by ups and downs and plenty of sacrifices on my part and my family, especially my parents,' Said Frayna.

However, on a radio interview during Janelle’s homecoming parade, Jayson Gonzales, her coach for six years, revealed that it was not an easy journey for the young chess master. He said that Frayna also had to overcome her share of defeats before reaching the top.

Janelle showed great intelligence at a young age and became a consistent honor student through elementary and high school. In 2010, she formally began her track on higher level chess when she joined the Philippine Academy for Chess Excellence, where she first met coach Jayson.

“There were many others who are immensely talented who came before her, but nobody was as hard working as her,” remarked Gonzales.

According to Gonzales, Janelle has had defeats from other chess when she first began. But fueled with determination, she underwent training for six to eight months until, in 2011, she became a chess junior champion at the age of 14.

“There are players who would tend to skip on their training, but she (Janelle) is not one of them. In FEU (Far Eastern University), the chess team would basically practice twice a week, but Janelle would go as far as six times a week,” said Gonzales.

Gonzales, himself being the 8th Filipino to have held the grandmaster title, further commended the young Bicolana, saying: “You are the first, you have made history, and others would now just be following you.”

Upon returning to Manila, Janelle and coach Jayson would begin their preparations for the upcoming Pacific Chess Tournament this December. Gonzales also said that Janelle would also attempt winning the World Championship title by 2018, an honor last achieved by a Filipino in 1983 (Eugene Torre).

With the achievement Janelle has brought home to Legazpi, Mayor Noel Rosal declared the city’s full support to the Frayna.

“She is an inspiration to us all, a real role model for the young generation,” he stated.

The soonest time, according to Gonzales, "We will request arrangement to have a courtesy call with President Rodrigo Duterte to present to him the achievement of a young Filipina bringing honor to the country in the field of sports."  (MAL/JBE-PIA5)

- See more at: http://news.pia.gov.ph/article/view/3301474868919/feature-first-filipina-chess-gm-visits-hometown-of-legazpi#sthash.M0dZuYen.dpuf

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