The Filipina nanny who helped raise Singapore's Olympic champion
As the entire Singapore cheered Joseph Schooling for getting the country’s first Olympic gold in 51 years, Yolanda “Yolly” Pascual was shedding tears of joy for her “son.”
Pascual, a Filipina nanny in Singapore, has been working with the Schoolings for 19 years now. These days, she is the popular “Auntie Yolly,” whose dedication and care for Joseph inspired many.
“I’ve always believed in him. I was watching and shouting for him. I cannot express how happy I am… I was jumping and crying after he won,” Pascual told Sunday Times, according to a report by Singapore’s Straits Times.
“When I miss him, I read our messages (on the phone). He’s like my own son,” Pascual added.
And the feeling is mutual.
In a 2015 interview with the now Olympic medalist Schooling, he named Pascual as his second mom.
“As a kid I wasn’t the easiest one to handle. She’s the one who always takes care of me at home, cooks for me,” said Schooling during a campaign by telecommunications firm Singtel.
“She definitely puts extra in the extraordinary. I don’t think I could have [other] second mom or nanny by my side,” Schooling added.
FROM ‘WATERBOY’ TO CHAMPION
Pascual also gave a rare glimpse of Schooling’s transition from being a Michael Phelps fan to becoming an Olympic champ.
“He’ll always say ‘I want to be No. 1’. I remember once we were watching (Michael) Phelps on TV, he told me he wanted to be there and be like him, and I knew he could do it,” Pascual was quoted as saying.
Pascual said while Schooling had “very strong will,” she also witnessed how the athlete made tough choices in his quest to win.
“When friends asked (him) to go out, he usually couldn’t because he had practice early the next day,” Pascual added.
During Schooling’s lowest days, Pascual was there too.
“He told me when he was very tired, and I’d give him a massage. Even now, when he comes back, he still asks for massages and he’s still like the young boy he was before he left,” Pascual added.
Pascual’s story is more than just the Filipino connection. It also is an exemption to the usual stories of Filipino domestic helpers in Singapore, where anti-Filipino sentiments had been strong.