Wrestling Association of the Philippines makes history in SEA tilt

Wrestling Association of the Philippines makes history in SEA tilt

WAP president Alvin Aguilar (left, beside double gold medalist May Masuda with one-year-old daughter Aielle) and the national team that took 31 gold medals at the Southeast Asian Wrestling, Grappling and Pankration Championships in San Pablo City.

MANILA, Philippines — Wrestling Association of the Philippines (WAP) president Alvin Aguilar delivered a strong statement that the NSA won’t back down from any challenge as it singlehandedly organized the Southeast Asian Wrestling, Grappling and Pankration Championships that brought in 200 competitors from eight countries in San Pablo City recently.

Since taking over the WAP three years ago, Aguilar has made major strides in growing the sport all over the country. He stepped in with the NSA in shambles, inheriting unliquidated accounts of about P8 Million and because of the outstanding amount, the PSC has withheld support for undertakings like the San Pablo event.

“Our budget for San Pablo was way over P1 Million,” said Aguilar, the founder of the homegrown mixed martial arts institution URCC (Universal Reality Combat Championship). “We’ve had to raise funds on our own. The POC gave us P50,000. We welcomed over 130 foreign delegates and provided transfers, hotel and food. Some foreign delegates didn’t pay their personal hotel bills and left us to settle. What a challenge it was to operate on a zero budget from the PSC. Hopefully, we’ll get that issue fixed soon. We’ve been advised by COA to submit a certification that we had nothing to do with the previous administration’s unliquidated accounts and since our takeover, WAP’s books have been in order.”

Despite the odds, Aguilar said the Philippines entered competitors in every single event in the tournament, a first in WAP history. The icing on the cake was winning 31 gold medals, a record haul. Aguilar said the feat is an indication of how the Philippines will fare in the SEA Games next year.

Athletes, coaches and officials from Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Australia and the Philippines participated in the five-day competition which featured non-traditional and associated wrestling styles, Gi and No Gi grappling, pankration and beach wrestling. Aguilar himself coached the Gi and No Gi grapplers to 22 gold medals. “We proved the Philippines’ capability to dominate in this category in Asia,” he said. “The United World of Wrestling (UWW) recently announced the formal inclusion of Gi and No Gi grappling alongside the traditional freestyle, Greco-Roman and women’s freestyle wrestling in the 2019 SEA Games and our achievement in San Pablo was a promising sign of a successful SEA Games ahead.”

The 31 Filipino gold medalists were for women’s freestyle, Minalyn Foy-os (57 kg), Noemi Tener (68 kg) and Sweetberry Perez (72 kg); for Greco-Roman, Michael Cater (55 kg), Margarito Angana (60 kg) and Noel Narada (63 kg); for freestyle, Luke Cruz (125 kg); for pankration, Ace Leyesa and Cathleen Penalosa; for men’s Gi, J. R. Rulloda (58 kg), Vince Ortiz (62 kg), Myron Mangubat (71 kg), Franco Rulloda (77 kg) and Pat Gambe (84 kg); for women’s Gi, Kim Custodio (45 kg), Penalosa (50 kg), Aisa Ratcliff (55 kg), May Masuda (60 kg), Janice Samson (65 kg), Apple Jane Ramos (70 kg); for men’s No Gi, Ortiz (62 kg), Mangubat (71 kg), Franco Rulloda (77 kg), Nicole Lim (84 kg) and Ish Arshad (+92 kg); and for women’s No Gi, Custodio (45 kg), Masuda (50 kg), Ratcliff (55 kg), Michelle Masuda (60 kg), Samson (65 kg) and Mc Bartolome (70 kg).

May Masuda, 29, amazed the audience by breast-feeding her one-year-old daughter Aielle in between matches. The La Salle psychology honors graduate is in the record books as the first Filipino jiu-jitsu world champion, a 2014 Asian Beach Games jiu-jitsu gold medalist and the first Filipino jiu-jitsu blackbelter. In San Pablo, Masuda bagged golds in the 60 kg class of women’s Gi and the 50 kg class of women’s No Gi. Her sister Michelle, 26, took the gold in the 60 kg class of women’s No Gi. The Masudas’ father Douglas is a retired Japanese-American lawyer from California and now an Elvis Presley tribute performer in Manila and mother Victoria Constantino is from Quezon.

Aguilar said the event wouldn’t have been a success without the assistance of Alvin Lee, WAP secretary-general Marcus Valda who didn’t sleep for five days to make sure the tournament went smoothly, San Francisco-based Mike Guingona, Aaron Catunao and Councilor Karla Adajar.