With the whole world reeling from the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, one of the most important things to take care of is one’s physical and mental health.
Amidst the uncertainty however, members of the famed Team Lakay stable in Baguio City, Philippines have managed to keep themselves and their families strong, safe, and above all else, sound of mind. And they owe a lot of it to their Igorot heritage.
Proudly representing their roots, the Team Lakay stars share what they’ve been up to during the lockdown and how their Igorot traits have helped them greatly during this time of crisis.
“I’ve mostly been occupying myself with home training with my eldest son Jhanlo and playing with my youngest son Marko,” shared Team Lakay head coach Mark Sangiao. “I’m also giving online training lessons, and the rest of the day, I spend it working on Team Lakay’s social media page, as well as the athletes’ social media pages.”
Sangiao says that simple living is the root of the Igorot culture’s survival.
“The Igorot people are known to be resilient, self-sustaining, village-oriented, and we are used to simple living,” Sangiao explained. “Even in times like these, people don’t get hungry because we take care of each other. You go out and you’ll see free vegetables stocked out on the road, and we don’t hoard them, we only get what we need so that everyone has something on their tables.
“Remember that during the war, Cordillera was able to sustain themselves because of the strong ties that we have here, coupled with the patience and the resiliency that we have,” he added.
“Since the Enhanced Community Quarantine, I’ve been spending a lot of time with my family, especially my two daughters,” shared former ONE Lightweight World Champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang. “I’ve been doing a lot of home-made training programs. I’ve also done a lot of crossfit workouts and I’ve been shadowboxing just so I can keep my striking on point.”
Knowing how to follow the rules and being helpful are the key Igorot traits that Folayang highlighted.
“The Igorot people are obedient, we make sure to follow our figures of higher authority, especially our elders,” Folayang stated.
“We also practice what we call ‘binadang,’ which means helping those in need, which is very important during times like this,” he added.
Former ONE Bantamweight World Champion Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon has been pretty innovative in finding ways to train hard, and he’s documented a lot of his methods on his social media.
“Aside from spending most of my time with my family, I continue to look for ways to be able to train,” Belingon said. “Since I can’t go to the gym, I brought the gym to me and improvised some equipment so that I can do my home workouts.”
The Igorot people, Belingon says, know how to fend for themselves.
“As a proud Igorot, we are taught to be self-reliant and fend for ourselves during trying times. We are also very obedient and respectful to our leaders,” he added.
For featherweight contender Edward “The Ferocious” Kelly, this quarantine period has allowed him to spend more time with his in-laws and help around their house as well.
“I’m staying with my parents-in-law, so I’ve been busy with improving their house by fixing stuff and doing some landscaping,” Kelly shared. “I’m still training once a day, and I like to think of my work here as part of my training. For example, I simulate lifting weights by carrying soil and transferring them into a pit.”
Kelly believes that because of the Igorot people’s way of life, they’ve grown to become naturally healthy and strong.
“We’ve managed to stay strong throughout this period because I believe that the Igorot people are naturally healthy people,” he said.
”The Igorots are physically strong because we are very hard workers, and that helps make our immune system strong as well. Having a strong immune system is very important nowadays so that we don’t get sick with the virus,” Kelly added.
ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix finalist Danny “The King” Kingad sees this as an opportunity to spend more time with his family.
“I’m using this time to stay with my family and play with my son here at home,” he shared. “This is my chance to make up for all the time I’ve spent away and be able to be with them while there aren’t any fights scheduled.”
Kingad adds that being helpful and being obedient is something that has helped Igorots stay safe and healthy during the quarantine period.
“I’m happy and I’m blessed because we make sure that we help each other, and we also make sure that we follow the government’s orders of strictly staying at home and not going out,” said Kingad.
“I’m very proud that we are well-disciplined about this matter, and we don’t have a lot of confirmed cases here, unlike in other parts of the country, so for me, it’s very important that we continue to follow the guidelines, and that’s what we Igorots are doing,” he continued.
Fast-rising ONE Strawweight contender Lito “Thunder Kid” Adiwang is taking advantage of this time at home to enjoy time with his family as well as making sure that things around the house are ready for the upcoming rainy season in the Philippines.
“During this quarantine, I’ve kept myself busy by working out at home, catching up with my brothers by giving advice and planning how to make tomorrow better, and by fixing whatever it is that is needed to be fixed at home so that it’s in good shape, especially with the rainy season approaching,” says Adiwang.
“Being a proud Igorot, I can say that our traits and beliefs have greatly helped us combat this dangerous disease.”
For former ONE Flyweight World Champion Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio staying stress-free is an important part of staying healthy and virus-free.
“I still find ways to train, but it’s more of home workouts and running,” Eustaquio shared. “We stay at home and maintain a healthy lifestyle. No stress and panic, just exercise, and of course the right diet.”
“Gravity” says that genes and lifestyle are a big part of how the Igorot people have kept strong through this time of crisis.
“Being an Igorot, most especially the genes and the lifestyle that we live has really helped us during this pandemic,” said Eustaquio. “We are very resilient people, we hold our pride high.
“We can survive and we can adapt on our own,” Eustaquio added.
Former ONE Featherweight World Champion Honorio “The Rock” Banario has gotten to use the time at home to babysit and also get some workouts in.
“Well, I’m at the province right now, babysitting,” Banario said. “I’ve also kept myself fit by skipping rope, shadowboxing, and carrying stones to have a light exercise.”
“Sometimes, I go and run on the trail near the farm,” “The Rock” added.
Banario shared that a certain native Igorot dish might be a key factor in keeping safe during the pandemic.
“Well, the things that normal Igorots do during this time of crisis is simply staying at home and following the rules,” shared Banario.
“We also cook a native chicken dish known as Pinikpikan,” Banario added jokingly. “I think these are the things that are helping keep us safe and away from this dangerous virus.”
Fresh off a successful title-defense against Alex Silva, ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua “The Passion” Pacio is fortunate to have a world champion training partner at arm’s length during this quarantine period.
“As an athlete, I need to find ways to train and keep myself busy during this quarantine. Luckily, Kuya Kevin [Belingon] and I live in the same barangay, that’s why we can train together,” Pacio shared.
Pacio notes that the Igorot discipline has helped keep the number of COVID-19 positive cases in the Benguet and Baguio area at a minimum.
“The Baguio-Benguet area is somehow one of the places with the least amounts of cases of people that have tested positive for the coronavirus, and I believe that it’s because of how disciplined the Igorot people are,” explained Pacio.
“We listen and we take seriously what the government says. We stay at home and we don’t go out, and we make sure that our health and safety is a must,” Pacio added.