Igorot heritage helping Team Lakay thrive amid pandemic

/ 03:34 PM April 29, 2020

FILE – Team Lakay world champions at ONE Championship. ONE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Team Lakay has been thriving despite the coronavirus pandemic and head master Mark Sangiao isn’t surprised at all that his fighters are able to adapt seamlessly amid the crisis.

And Sangiao knows a big reason why and it all goes back to their roots.


“The Igorot people are known to be resilient, self-sustaining, village-oriented, and we are used to simple living,” he said. “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.”


Luzon has been on lockdown since March but while others have been struggling to cope, Sangiao said the adversity brought the best out of them to be resourceful and mindful of others.

“The Igorot people are obedient, we make sure to follow our figures of higher authority, especially our elders,” said Eduard Folayang, a former two-time lightweight world champion.

“We also practice what we call ‘binadang,’ which means helping those in need, which is very important during times like this,” he added.

All ONE Championship events remain suspended until further notice but the hiatus has never been an excuse for Sangiao’s warriors to stop improving their crafts.

“Aside from spending most of my time with my family, I continue to look for ways to be able to train,” said ex-bantamweight king Kevin Belingon. “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.”

Respect and discipline are also valuable things that the Igorots have high regard for.

“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,” Belingon said.


“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,” said rising star Danny Kingad.

True enough, Baguio has been hailed as a model city for its swift response against the COVID-19 crisis.

“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,” said stawweight champion Joshua 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.”

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TAGS: Baguio City, coronavirus, Danny Kingad, Eduard Folayang, enhanced community quarantine, Joshua Pacio, Kevin Belingon, lockdown, Mark Sangiao, MMA, One Championship, outbreak, pandemic, Team Lakay
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