Amidst the skyscrapers and bustling streets of Singapore, a story unfolds that captures the essence of Filipino diaspora pride. Zach Sales Ramin, 18 years old, a child of OFWs Rudi Ramin with roots in Oas, Albay, and Grace Sales from Bansud, Oriental Mindoro, has carved a unique path in Philippine sports.
Growing up far from his homeland, Zach discovered and honed a remarkable talent in bowling. His choice to carry the Philippine flag in competitions, despite his upbringing abroad, paints an inspiring picture for OFWs globally. It’s a testament to staying connected to one’s roots and embracing national identity, even when miles away. Zach’s journey is not just about sports; it’s a beacon of inspiration for OFWs and their children, demonstrating that the heart of the Philippines beats strong, no matter where one calls home.
Early Years: Finding His Path in Bowling
Zach began his bowling journey at 9 years old, playing in Filipino Bowling Clubs in Singapore. He was introduced to the sport by his parents, avid bowlers themselves, who nurtured his interest from an early age. These formative years, playing alongside other OFWs, were not just about developing his bowling skills but also about connecting with his roots. His early exposure to the sport, amidst a supportive community, set the foundation for his future achievements.
Fay Lugue, President of the Filipino Bowlers Club of Singapore, said “From the very beginning, Zach stood out, even when playing against seasoned adults in our leagues. There was a spark in him, a natural affinity for the game that was unmistakable. It has been a joy and an honor to witness his growth from a promising young talent in our local Filipino community to now representing our country in international competitions”.
Training in Singapore: The Foundation
Recognizing his passion for the sport, Zach’s parents, Rudi and Grace, enrolled him in Strike Academy, one of Singapore’s premier bowling academies. Under the tutelage of Kim Eun Jung, a former Korean national bowler, he not only mastered the fundamentals of bowling but also learned advanced techniques and the art of competitive play.
His training extended beyond the academy, as he frequently competed in school and age-group tournaments in Singapore and Malaysia, sharpening his competitive edge against his peers. It was this advanced skill set, particularly his physical game which was beyond his years, that caught the eye of Biboy Rivera, the former coach of the Philippine team and one of the Philippines bowling legends.
Recognizing Zach’s potential, Rivera recruited him to join the national youth development squad, setting him on the path to international competition and acclaim. Reflecting on Zach’s early promise, Rivera remarked, “Even at a young age, Zach’s potential was unmistakable. He wasn’t just going through the motions; he was absorbing every lesson, eager to learn and improve. His dedication and willingness to push himself were clear indicators that he was destined for a world-class level in bowling. It’s rare to see such a combination of talent and drive in someone so young.”
Singapore Open: A Landmark Victory
In June 2023, the Singapore International Open Bowling Championship became the venue for Zach’s stunning breakthrough in the global bowling community, where he competed against some of the world’s top bowlers.
Renowned for its competitive nature and substantial prize pool, the Singapore Open attracts elite competitors from Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Against this backdrop of intense competition, Zach’s victory was a monumental achievement. At just 17 years old, he became the youngest-ever winner and the first Filipino male to clinch the title since 1965.
The Singapore Open also marked his first tournament under the guidance of Joe Slowinski, the newly appointed Philippine team coach since January 2023. Although they had not worked together before, Zach welcomed Coach Slowinski’s guidance during the competition.
Reflecting on this tournament, Coach Slowinski, a USBC gold-certified coach stated, “We were fortunate to have spent many hours together during the youth division Masters and Match Play the day before the Open division. Through this experience, we were able to develop a communication protocol that worked for both of us. My goal was to keep him focused on the process and avoid thinking about the reality of facing two very experienced bowlers who had previously earned professional titles. This communication process would prove pivotal to helping him remain focused and present during the most stressful moment. His open-mindedness and coachability were key factors in achieving this historic win.”
Asian Youth Bowling Championship: A Team Triumph
After his remarkable win at the Singapore Open, Zach joined the Philippine team for the Asian Youth Bowling Championship in Bangkok, Thailand, in July. Despite being the youngest member, with teammates including Artegal Barrientos, Marc Dylan Custodio, and Stephen Luke Diwa, Zach displayed exceptional maturity. His role was crucial in fostering team camaraderie and spirit, contributing significantly to their astonishing comeback victory.
In a stunning turn of events, the team placed fifth before the final game, and catapulted to the top, outperforming teams from South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Malaysia. This victory was so impactful that Senator Bong Go, along with other Philippine senators, passed a senate resolution commending the boys for their historic win. Under the guidance of coaches Joe Slowinski and Jojo Canare, who emphasized a team-based approach, the young bowlers achieved an incredible feat, marking a new chapter in Philippine bowling.
Surmounting Distance: Integration into the Philippine Team
After his remarkable victories, Zach’s bowling career propelled him onto the international stage as a representative of the Philippines. Selected to represent the country for the Thailand International Open, the Storm U22 Fukuoka Open, and the prestigious World Bowling Championship in Kuwait, these competitions provided Zach with vital international exposure, further refining his skills. More importantly, they served as a bridge, integrating him into the Philippine National Team. His unique position as the sole team member based abroad underscores a significant aspect of his journey.
Despite the geographic distance, Zach’s unwavering dedication and talent have harmoniously connected him with his Philippine-based teammates. His story exemplifies how passion and skill in sports can transcend geographical barriers, fostering unity and excellence in the pursuit of global sporting achievements
Looking Ahead: Ambitious Goals for 2024
As Zach anticipates exciting opportunities and challenges in 2024, his mother, Grace, reflects on his journey: “We’ve always fully supported Zach in whatever way we can. Watching him put in the effort to balance school, training, and competitions, especially with all the traveling required for his sport, makes us incredibly proud.” This sentiment from his mother underscores the solid support system behind Zach, integral to his success and future aspirations.
Zach stands on the cusp of a new chapter in his bowling career. Early this year, he secured one of the few spots in the Philippine National Training Pool, a significant step up from his time in the Youth Pool. His competitive journey for the year begins at the Dubai International Open in February, where he looks forward to connecting with fellow OFW bowlers.
With his sights set on defending his Singapore Open title in June, Zach also aims to represent the Philippines in the World Youth Bowling Championship in July, the Asian Bowling Championship in September, and the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in November.
Amidst his rigorous sporting schedule, he is also poised to complete his secondary school studies in May, balancing his athletic aspirations with academic commitments.
Reflecting on his journey and future aspirations, Zach shared, “Representing the Philippines is more than just playing the sport I love; it’s about carrying the hopes and dreams of a nation. Each time I step onto the lanes, I carry with me the strength and spirit of every Filipino.”
Zach’s story transcends sports; it’s a tale of cultural identity, perseverance, and pride. As he continues to represent the Philippines on the world stage, he stands as a testament to the strength and spirit of Filipinos, inspiring a new generation to pursue their dreams, no matter where they are.
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