Billiards Athlete Rubilen Amit on Becoming a Cebuano Champion

Rubilen Amit on Breaking Barriers with Billiards

GUCCI blazer. Photographed by Mark Nicdao for the July 2024 Issue of Vogue Philippines.

For billiards world champion Rubilen Amit, strong familial support is essential to any aspiring athlete.

What started as a childhood pastime led to Rubilen Amit becoming the first Filipina to win the World Ten-Ball Championship. “My parents were very supportive; if I joined contests, they would give me a prize,” she relates. “When I’m grounded, I would automatically be set free if I joined a tournament. Sabi ko, ‘Okay ’to ah. (This could work.)”

More than just evading punishment, Amit started winning, though she momentarily stopped competing to complete her college degree. With the encouragement of her father, she started playing again, winning the World Championship in 2009. But doubts started creeping in: “I don’t know if it had something to do with the fact that it was the first for a Filipina. Baka parang, ‘O, tsamba,’” She took the title again in 2013 and now wants to share the high of representing the Philippines on the world stage. “It’s something na [so great] to make someone experience, especially for an athlete and the younger generations. I hope they see that playing for the country, it really is a sacrifice.”

Last year, she started the Amit Cup, paving the way for more women to compete in the sport she loves. She’s happy to give free lessons, too, because she knows when it comes to billiards, Filipinas have what it takes. “Winning the world title, the gold medal, I thought it was about me. But I realized all these things were to be able to have the credibility to form a tournament for women, to lead the way for women, that you can do it.”

Born and raised in Cebu, Rubilen Amit’s first love was basketball. At 12, she was deeply immersed in the sport until her peers outgrew her. Her father, an avid billiards player, then introduced her to billiards. What started as casual games with her cousins turned into a serious pursuit as her father recognized her potential and nurtured her talent. “I started when I was 12. I was still in Cebu back then, and I was really into basketball during that time,” Amit recalls. When her playmates grew older and she was left behind, she decided to shift her focus. 

Her early memories involved playing simple games at the billiards table with her cousins, where the goal was to throw the ball and avoid being caught. “At first, I was just playing with my cousins. It wasn’t really billiards yet,” the athlete recalls. It didn’t take long for her father to see her potential and push her towards competitive play. By high school, Amit was participating in local tournaments, often with her friends in tow for support. “When I started playing, maybe he saw potential. And he was the one who pushed me.”

One of the most remarkable aspects of her journey is the unwavering support from her parents. They encouraged her to compete in tournaments, even lifting her grounding when it conflicted with an event. The prizes she won from these competitions were hers to keep, and her father often drove her to events, ensuring she had every opportunity to excel. But despite this support, Amit faced significant challenges. In college, she pursued a degree in accountancy at the University of Santo Tomas (UST). The rigorous demands of her major caused her to step back from billiards during her third and fourth years. However, her father’s persistent encouragement never waned. He offered her a business to keep her engaged, convincing her to continue pursuing billiards despite her initial reluctance.

After college, Rubilen aimed to become a CPA lawyer but was drawn back to billiards. The family’s financial situation took a downturn when both their cargo forwarding and food businesses closed. Despite this, Rubilen’s parents remained steadfast in their support. In February 2009, amidst financial struggles, the family held a meeting to discuss their future. Amit’s brother had to take a leave of absence from school, highlighting the severity of their situation.

However, in a twist of fate, Rubilen won the world championship title in June 2009, just four months after the family meeting. This victory was more than just a personal achievement; it was a lifeline for her family. “It’s really a blessing, more than anything, despite a lot of life-changing things that happened,” the world champion recalls. The pressures of being a champion brought out her inner demons, but Amit faced them with the same grit and perseverance that had driven her journey from the start.

As she looks back on her journey, her gratitude for her family’s support and her relentless pursuit of excellence shine through. She continues to inspire aspiring athletes, demonstrating that with hard work and unwavering support, even the most daunting obstacles can be overcome.

This month, Vogue Philippines pays tribute to stories of grit, determination, and the pursuit of excellence. Below, meet more of the athletes who continue to shatter the glass ceiling of sports.


Vogue Philippines: July 2024 Issue

By BIANCA CUSTODIO, NANA CARAGAY, PATRICIA VILLORIA Photographs by MARK NICDAO Beauty Editor JOYCE OREÑA Fashion Director PAM QUIÑONES. Stylists: David Milan, Steven Coralde of Qurator Studio. Makeup: Angeline dela Cruz, Bea Mocorro, Janica Cleto, and Japeth Purog of Estée Lauder Philippines, Nadynne Esguerra. Hair: JA Feliciano and Kyle Velasco, Jessica Riva and Noel Muncada of Toni&Guy Philippines, Mong Amado. Art Director: Jann Pascua. Producer: Anz Hizon. Bookings Associate: Bianca Zaragoza. Beauty Writer: Bianca Custodio. Nails: Extraordinail. Photographer’s Assistants: Arsan Sulser Hofileña, Crisaldo Soco, John Phillip Nicdao, Villie James Bautista. Stylist’s Assistants: Geno Karlo, Kyla Uy, Ticia Almazan. Shot on location at Balay Kobo and Vogue Studios.
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