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Pinoys at the Winter Olympics

12 February 2018

This year, the Philippines commemorates 46 years since we first joined the Winter Olympics, when two cousins represented the islands in 1972 in Sapporo, Japan.

Skaters dance on ice during the opening ceremony o

1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, Japan

While it seems counter-intuitive for a tropical nation to send a delegation, the Philippines is joining a growing number of “no-snow” countries to enjoy the spirit of this colorful quadrennial event. Our very short bench of athletes is dominated by individuals holding dual-citizenships; and are training abroad.  The Philippines does not have any grassroots winter sports programs, so expenses for training and qualifying competitions are shouldered by the athletes.

Below are short profiles on Olympic Pinoys and links which lead to their biographies and/or family trees.

Nanasca

Juan Cipriano and Ben Nanasca were Filipino alpine skiers who represented the country at the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo, Japan. They were cousins who were adopted in their teens by a couple from New Zealand.  The Swiss government sponsored their training in winter sports. Their participation marked the first time the Philippines joined the Winter Olympics.  Instant heroes back home, they had cameos in the Nora Aunor-Tirso Cruz starrer “Winter Holiday” which was released in the Philippines in 1972.

Martinez

Michael Christian Martinez is a Filipino figure skater, born on 4 November 1996 in Paranaque, Philippines. He is the first skater from Southeast Asia to qualify for the Olympics, and was the only athlete to represent the Philippines at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He was one of two representatives to the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.  He spends several months every year in California to train with his Russian coaches.

Miller

Asa Miller was born on 14 June 2000 in Portland, Oregon. He is a Filipino-American alpine skier who competed for the Philippines in the giant slalom at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. His mother is from the Philippines, where his extended family still lives.

Ocampo

Raymond L. Ocampo, Jr. was born in Lubao, Pampanga on 10 February 1953. He was a luger and the country’s lone representative to the 1988 Winter Olympics. Atty. Ocampo carries a dual Filipino-American citizenship and is the current President and CEO of Samurai Surfer LLC.

Teruel

Michael Teruel was born in Buffalo, New York and is a Filipino-American Alpine skier. His parents were Lorenzo Teruel and Teresita Nunez, who migrated to the United States to pursue higher education. His father studied medicine; while his mother took up chemistry. He was the lone representative of the Philippines to the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France.

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Carmen Maria Mory

8 July 2015
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Carmen Maria Mory was a Swiss Gestapo double agent, who was convicted of heinous crimes, including 60 murders, in the Hamburg Trials. She was also part-Filipina.

Carmen was born to an English doctor Ernest Emil Mory and his Pinay patient, Leona Bischoff. Carmen earned the unflattering nickname of “The Black Angel of Ravensbrück”.  Books and movies have been created about her — such as “Carmen Mory: Hände weg von diesem Weib” which loosely translates to “Carmen Mory: Stay away from this woman”.

carmen_mory

Carmen in British internment on 15 January 1946.

The Filipino Connection

Leona Bischoff, Carmen’s mother, was born in Bacolod and spent most of her early life as Leona Castro, an illegitimate daughter of her mother Felisa Castro and a rich Swiss businessman who had settled in Iloilo, Samuel Werthmuller Bischoff.  When Samuel recognized her as his child, Leona lived with Samuel and his barren wife Ana M. Ramirez; and changed her name from Castro to Bischoff.

Leona first married a Hong Kong-born British national Frederick von Kauffman with whom she had three children: Ernesto, Elena and Federico.  Some years later,  she became ill and the family decided to send her to Switzerland to recuperate; but a return to the Philippines never happened.

In Switzerland, Leona had an affair with her doctor and triggered a divorce from Frederick von Kauffman, which was finalized in Paris in 1905.  Leona and Ernest were married in London also in 1905.  The couple was blessed with three children: Leonita Elizabeth, Carmen Maria and Esther Renate.

Visit Carmen’s family tree here.

The Black Angel of Ravensbrück

At the age of 26 years, Carmen Maria Bischoff Mory left Switzerland and went to Berlin, in order to work as a journalist. She was impressed by the National Socialist ideology and became a Gestapo agent in 1934, for whom she spied on German emigrants in Paris. In 1938, she was arrested for espionage, was condemned to death and in 1940, pardoned by the French President. Back in Germany, she became active again for the Gestapo; but was accused of being a double agent and was sent to Nazi camp in Ravensbrück.  As a prisoner, she quickly rose through the hierarchy and became a cell-leader, who supervised cruel forced labor.

Carmen Mory was sentenced to death by hanging at the first Hamburg trials — she appears at the 0:59 mark in this German historical video — but she committed suicide in her cell by slashing her wrists before justice can be carried out.

Research Tip:  Court proceedings, especially estate disputes, are a wealth of genealogical data.  When huge fortunes are won and lost based on one’s ability to prove their ancestry, Philippine court certified data detailed in the General Roster of Advanced Decisions (GR’s) is a great resource.

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