Team Lakay isn’t just the home of martial arts warriors, the famed gym is also the stable of natural teachers.
Just recently, former ONE lightweight world champion Eduard Folayang spearheaded a Team Lakay donation drive to Benguet National High School.
The world-renowned martial arts gym collaborated with ONE Warrior Series and donated a 70-inch Android smart TV, a futsal set, a whiteboard, and a slew of educational toys to the school.
Folayang, together with his Team Lakay teammates, turned over the equipment to BeNHS principal Nestor O. Dalay-on.
According to the school, BeNHS Special Education Teacher Mercy O. Gorospe purposely solicited the items for the school’s SPED students.
The coincidence that occurred during the event could not happened any better as Folayang is also one of the most learned individuals on the ONE Championship roster.
According to One Championship, Folayang’s interest in a security or law enforcement career led him to initially study criminology at the University of the Cordilleras.
His schedule with the national wushu team, however, stopped him from sitting the course’s major exams. Valuing his opportunity to represent the country in competitions as much as representing his country, he looked for an alternative subject to study.
Inspired by his martial arts mentors, he settled on a degree in education.
“Landslide” earned his degree in 2008. It didn’t take a long time, three months to be exact, for him to pass the Philippine teachers’ board exam and became licensed. He actually taught physical education for high schoolers.
His being a popular athlete lifted his cause as the children gave him a lot of respect for the most part.
“It was nice because the kids at that stage in their lives are very curious about a lot of things,” Folayang recalls as he looks back at that time in his life with a lot of fondness in a ONE interview. “There are a lot of naughty kids, but whenever you see that one kid who is really interested to listen to what you are saying, it’s a great feeling to have. It compensates for all the trouble the others are causing. I think it’s fun to look back at those times when I was checking papers and some of them had scribbles of hearts from the kids. Those were thrilling moments, getting to know that some of the kids admire you.”
As fate have it, Folayang wasn’t destined to be that kind of mentor as he ran into a familiar problem, finding it impossible to balance the demands of the job with the time he needed to invest in his burgeoning mixed martial arts career.
“The life of a teacher is difficult, you wake up early in the morning to prepare for a long day, and when you go home you still have tons of stuff left to do,” he explained to ONE.
“Your time is really filled up with everything that you have to do. I believe that it is a noble profession, and I look up to those who have given their lives to teaching. My time and focus were divided between those two passions, and it wouldn’t work. I thought I could still teach even if I grew older, but competing in martial arts isn’t forever. I don’t want to look back and think that I wasted the opportunity to compete while my body still allowed me to. I decided then that I would pursue my passion for martial arts, because eventually, I could still go back to teaching.”
The circumstances would then lead to a successful mixed martial arts career that quickly picked up steam after his debut in 2007.
While his success in the MMA cage made him arguably the best athlete the Cordilleras has produced, his satisfaction with his teaching profession didn’t stop him from becoming involved even if he’s stepped away from the classroom. Folayang is still very much involved in the education process albeit in a non-conventional way.
Fondly called “Manong Ed” by his teammates and friends, the MMA legend is one of the most important voices in Team Lakay and he uses his influence to guide his younger teammates in life.
Also in attendance for the donation drive are ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua Pacio, former ONE Bantamweight World Champion Kevin Belingon, former ONE Featherweight World Champion Honorio Banario, Lito Adiwang, Edward Kelly, and Jeremy Pacatiw.
Team Lakay Foundation representatives Rogelio Capan and Jayvie Espada also attended the event.
By: Armando M. Bolislis
Banner photo: Team Lakay, represented by Eduard Folayang (2nd from left), hands over educational items to Benguet National High School principal Nestor Dalayon (3rd from left) as their response to a teacher’s call for assistance to their SPED students. Contributed photo