Advocating Peace and Hope through Muaythai

Oct 19, 2017

by Noel de los Reyes Villa

 

The once beautiful Islamic City of Marawi has been the topic of most news in the Philippines since the siege caused by the Isis-inspired Maute Terrorist Group began 5 months ago.

 

The Marawi crisis has greatly affected not only the access and availability of basic human necessities such as food, water and shelter, but also the children’s rights to education, play and social protection, among others.

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It was during our first visit in Marawi City last September when I was able to see for myself the situation of the kids in evacuation centers. In order to cushion the negative effects of the crisis, we provided a sports therapy session for the kids through fun games using the Rugby ball.

 

Seeing how that short activity brought happiness and smiles on their faces, I thought these kids deserve more sports-related activities to make them enjoy being kids despite and in spite of their situation.

 

Coincidentally, the Secretary General of the Muay Thai Association of the Philippines (MAP), Ms. Pearl Managuelod, viewed our session with the kids through our Facebook page.

 

As I am also an affiliated Muay Thai Kru, she asked me how MAP can also facilitate a sports therapy session for those kids to learn the Muay Thai values of Respect, Honour, Tradition, Excellence,  and Fair Play.

 

Mohammad Noor Abdul Cader Dima-a left Norkhalida B Lumampa middle and Norkhafidah B Lumampa right enjoying the ringside seats with the judges and officials of the tournament.

Mohammad Noor Abdul Cader Dima-a left Norkhalida B Lumampa middle and Norkhafidah B Lumampa right enjoying the ringside seats with the judges and officials of the tournament.

Ms. Pearl mentioned that such initiative may be done in partnership with UNESCO whose program centers around building peace in the minds of men and women. MAP offered to bring two kids and a guardian from Marawi City to an all-expenses paid weekend of Muay Thai activities in Tagum City.

 

I immediately contacted Ms. Jinkee Gonzales of Xavier University to help me coordinate with the concerned people in Marawi City. After a few days, MOHAMMAD NOOR ABDUL CADER DIMA-A (12 years old) and NORKHALIDA B LUMAMPA (14 years old) were selected to fly to Tagum City together with their guardian, NORKHAFIDAH B LUMAMPA, on October 15-16, 2017.

 

Mohammad Noor Abdul Cader Dima-a left Norkhalida B Lumampa right

Mohammad Noor Abdul Cader Dima-a left Norkhalida B Lumampa right

I was very happy for the kids as it was a great chance for them to get away from the evacuation center, ride a plane, visit a new place, and learn about the beautiful sport of Muay Thai even for just a few days.

 

On their first day, the kids joined all the athletes during the opening ceremony of the 1st Muaythai National Open – Mindanao Leg and were given front row seats during the actual tournament held at the City Mall. The kids also lived and trained like the athletes, with Kru Francis Peralta Amandy providing the Basic Muaythai Training on their 2nd day.

 

“I want them to see the power of sports, especially Muaythai, on how it can transform lives. I want them to see that the society cares for them and that there is hope in sports. I want them to feel that they should still be kids and create a safe space for them.” said Ms. Pearl Managuelod, Secretary General of MAP.

 

On October 15-16, 2017, MAP and its affiliate chapter King’s Sword Martial Arts, hosted the tournament where 13 teams composed of players as young as 12 years old and adults aged 20 and above (from Zamboanga, Kidapawan, GenSan, Bukidnon, Malaybalay, Iligan, Cagayan de Oro, Panabo and Luzon) competed in over 40 bouts.

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As a way of continuing the growth of Muaythai as a sport, a Referee and Judges’ Course was also facilitated during the same weekend by Kru Francis Peralta Amandy to increase the number of match officials in the grassroots. Kru Francis was one of the Referees in the recent pre-Sea Games in Malaysia and in the International Federation of Muaythai IFMA World Championship in Belarus.

 

Mohammad and Norkhalida, including their guardian Norkhadifah, truly had a great weekend. Their experience may have been a fleeting one, but I am sure that the positive effects from such an experience have imprinted in their memory.

 

So what’s next from MAP after this?

 

According to Ms. Pearl, “MAP will conduct a grassroots program in Marawi as part of our capacity building, we will train youth and community leaders to conduct Muaythai classes to empower the kids and hopefully produce athletes”.

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I would like to thank Ms. Pearl, Kru Francis, the MAP sponsors and affiliate Coaches, and the other “angels” for believing, supporting and joining our efforts in sharing happiness through sports.

 

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive
– Dalai Lama

 

To learn more about Muaythai, please check out MAP’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/officialmuaythaiphilippinesnsa/

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