Folayang Falls in ONE: Legends of the World

I’m writing this down before I touch or even look at my images from tonight, while the events from a few hours ago are still fresh in my mind. It’s a first — I usually stagger off to bed or slog off to work after these events, but tonight, I think I can spare some time.

So Eduard Folayang is no longer ONE Championship’s Lightweight champion. That distinction — along with being top dog of the Featherweight division as well — now belongs to Australian-Vietnamese fighter Martin Nguyen. Anticipating what used to be Folayang’s unorthodox style that involved a lot of spinning backfists and kicks, Nguyen landed a quick and solid right counter after one of Folayang’s signature moves, and just like that, the Filipino champ was down, and stayed down. He was able to walk out back to dugout, head hung low, but he did not make it to the post-fight press conference; I hope he is doing well.

A perfect right hand counter from challenger Martin Nguyen sent Pinoy lightweight champ Eduard Folayang down.

From a Filipino fan’s perspective, I’m not happy right now. Before the KO, Folayang was doing pretty well and was pretty assertive in the cage, landing some good shots in the process. He and Nguyen were powerful strikers and I had some confidence — at least as a casual observer/fan — that the Igorot fighter had an edge. That Nguyen was also moving up a weight class helped. Except a stunning counter, developed after countless hours of training, and in Nguyen’s words, after taking “countless spinning backfists and spinning back kicks in the face” was the proverbial final nail in the coffin of the two Team Lakay members who fought in the main event tonight. Earlier, fellow teammate Danny Kingad blew his chance at the flyweight title after submitting to a rear-naked choke from reigning champ and BJJ phenom Adriano Moraes.

Fortunately, the other Team Lakay members in the card fared better. Kevin Belingon, once a contender for the bantamweight title, featured in the most exciting fight tonight after he displayed explosive power and technique to earn a unanimous victory over Korean Kevin Chung. Gina Iniong ground-and-pounded her way to a TKO win, and is now tentatively going to be Mei Yamaguchi’s next opponent two weeks from now. Yamaguchi was supposed to rematch Angela Lee in another attempt to wrest the atomweight title from the latter, but Lee recently figured in a serious car accident and will likely be out of commission for a long while before she can be fit to compete again. Finally, Joshua Pacio is climbing back up the ladder, tooth-and-nail, ending his bout with fellow Pinoy Roy Doliguez with a spinning backfist that sent the latter to the canvas.

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All in all, I think like in the past, it’ll be a learning experience for Team Lakay. They could argue before that their signature all-rounder, unorthodox style worked, but Nguyen will just be the first of many that will effectively take Team Lakay’s fighting style to task. ONE Championship Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong said that Folayang will need a couple of fights more — after he heals up — before proving himself worthy to regain the title shot again. And that’s all well and good, I think. Folayang and the rest of Team Lakay have much more room to grow, and I for one, am excited to see what they’ll being to the table when they evolve once again.

Hello, old friend.

Sometimes it’s hard to find the right words. It’s like having something in mind, but you can’t put a finger on what exactly it is. You know what it is, but at the same time, you don’t. It might sound weird (and maybe a little silly) coming from a writer, but that’s just the way it is with me sometimes.

Ironically, that’s partly why photography always fascinated me. Like writing, people will always take it however they want to. Some will like it, some won’t, some will just say meh. But personally, it somehow fills in the gaps where my words can’t seem to reach.

So without further ado, here’s something from a fairly recent trip to Seoul, South Korea.

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Shopping Spree | Myeongdong Shopping District | Seoul | 5D Mk2 + 24-70 2.8L v.1

Japan Dreams, Part One

Kofukuji Temple, Nara

As far back as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to visit Japan.

Growing up in the messy urban sprawl that is Metro Manila, I was always fascinated by how castles and traditional structures could coexist with more modern architecture, especially in such a technologically advanced country like Japan. This was pre-anime days, mind you, when what I knew of the Land of the Rising Sun was the zany, wacky weirdness of Takeshi’s Castle (hosted by Anjo Yllana and Smokey Manaloto!) and information gleaned from those old and boring documentaries they used to show on the now-defunct government-run PTV13.

Kasuga Taisha Shrine, Nara

And then along came anime during my teens, then Japanese food a few years later — needless to say, I became hopelessly in love.

(To be continued.)

Here’s a resolution for you: Be a responsible tourist!

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While I may be (partly) stereotyping, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that environmentalists and vegetarians consider us, the human race, the biggest threat to the planet. And it’s true — we generally destroy everything we touch.

In July last year, I took my family up to Baguio for an early celebration of me and the missus’ 5th wedding anniversary, and Amy’s 1st birthday. As it is custom for me to do, I asked around if anyone knew some good sunrise or sunset spots nearby where I could head out by myself to take some landscapes.

A family friend and fellow photography enthusiast who is now based in Baguio pointed me in the direction of Mt. Cabuyao, particularly the area near and going to Sitio La Presa, which became hugely popular due to an ABS-CBN telenovela that has (thankfully, at least IMHO) long completed its TV run.

The area, which is actually Sitio Pungayan and nearby Sto. Tomas, technically belongs to the municipality of Tuba, Benguet, but is just a few minutes away from Baguio City. I headed out there two mornings in a row, and besides discovering just how rusty my landscape photography was, I had a really good time and took home a couple of great images.

However, the second morning I was on the way to the area, I was accosted by policemen who wanted to know my purpose. I told them the truth: That I was a tourist and hobbyist photographer and I just wanted to take photos of the sunrise. Apparently, the area of Sitio Pungayan and Sto. Tomas is presently off-limits to non-locals as the deluge of tourists and visitors during the soap opera’s run basically messed up the ecological balance of the place. The quiet lives of local residents were constantly bothered, and to make things worse, a lot of folks left their garbage with them. As a result, the local Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) ordered the area closed to tourists until things return to the way they were.

I eventually got permission to go up and shoot, but it really got my blood boiling when I thought of how horrific tourists so many of us are. The taxi driver who was with me even told me that during the height of the Sitio La Preza hype, the line of cars from visitors would extend all the way from Pungayan, which is close to the top of the mountain, to the main highway down below. That’s A LOT of visitors.

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Why is it so hard for us to be responsible tourists? Why is it so hard for us to be sensitive about the places we go to and the people who live there? Seriously, a lot of people who like to brag about being “travelholics” and sufferers of “wanderlust” don’t deserve the privilege to travel. It’s not as simple as you having the “right” just because you have the money and means to do so — there’s an attached responsibility as well. There are natural conditions to be considered, local residents we have to sensitive to, and local customs and cultures that should be respected.

Don’t get me wrong — it’s great to see more folks traveling, even those who do it just to be “in.” It’s not only a sign of better economic conditions, but it also brings in added income to people who live in tourist locations. But again, let’s all please learn our boundaries, and ENOUGH with this smug sense of entitlement. We are always mere visitors, and we should learn to act accordingly.