When Harold Banario placed a streamer-like object atop the eight figure Team Lakay 13 x 24 feet mural of the team at the Baguio athletic bowl, he was about to place the seven word that every member of the famed Baguio mixed martial arts squad has lived by: “Champions are not born, they are made.”
“It was what coach Mark (Sangiao) wanted that it be included in the mural,” said artist Harold Banario, who as a Team Lakay member and warrior knows those words by heart and he has lived by since becoming a member of the famed squad, which so far is the most successful in the ONE Fighting Championship with four champions.
Top honcho Sangiao, who was part in commissioning the work to the “Artist”, Banario’s name in the Brave Fighting Championship, where his contract has recently expired, says “because we believe that we all pass through the process of learning, either getting that basic or advance knowledge and skill.”
Sangiao added: “a sword itself cannot cut if its blade is blunt. We need to sharpen it to be called an effective weapon.”
Sangiao was a warrior before he turned coach for the team which started out as a college wushu squad and a Philippine team that won medals in international competitions.
Sangiao is a 2001 gold medal winner in the Southeast Asian Games before turning his attention to coaching the University of the Cordilleras wushu squad and the Philippine team that enabled Eduard Folayang to win a gold three times in the SEAG.
Folayang alone is the best example of dedication. After failing to get a medal in the 2001 SEAG, that also saw Jearome Calica win a gold and Rexel Nganhayna a silver, he went down to business and earned for himself the elusive gold in the 2005 version in Manila where the Philippine wushu squad took the team event in both sanda and taolu.
And he won it two more times before concentrating on fighting inside the octagon ring where he worked to winning the lightweight belt in 2016.
But then he lost the belt nearly a year later to Martin Nguyen after one successful title defense. Since then the 36 year old education graduate from UC was on a roller coaster, losing the last two fights. But he has vowed then to bounce back.
Sangiao said that his wards may lose this fight but they always bounce back. Point in case is Joshua Pacio who after losing the straw weight belt to Yosuke Saruta in 2019, he returned better prepared three months later to beat the Japanese warrior, this time in technical knockout on the fourth round after kneeing his opponent.
He has then defended his title two more times: against wushu sanda legend Rene Catalan and Alex Silva.
Sangiao said that Pacio, like the rest of his wards, keep on improving. If they fall, they come bouncing back the next time.
Thus, he says: “For our warriors, they constantly need to train and hone their skill. There is no such thing as ‘I’m already good enough and complete.’”
This is what each of them avoid, to be complacent as he added: “This attitude will not bring them to far and up places. Our warriors should keep levelling up, keep refining their skills and keep schooling.”
He added: “Edging their fight weapon persistently will make them winners.”
Those were the last words for Banario’s three month work at the Baguio athletic and heeding his coach’s words, he will soon be back training again at the Team Lakay gym.
“It’s just that I’m so busy these days. I have this (mural) and I have also some extra jobs to do and now that I am back in school to finally finish my architecture degree,” quipped Banario.
“But I will be back training soon,” he promised as he looks forward to more fights after two cancelled bouts this year due to the pandemic.