June 23, 2024

Cordilleran athletes who are members of the various national squads competing in the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam have already won medals for the Philippines.

Helen Aclopen, who traces her roots to Dalican, Bontoc, Mountain Province, delivered one of the two silver medals in kurash (folk wrestling) after yielding to Trang To Thi of host Vietnam in the wo-men’s 48-kilogram. 

Aclopen, a bronze medalist in the World Martial Art Mastership in Korea in 2019, was also bronze me-dalist in samba during the 2019 SEA Games hosted by the Philippines.

Four members of the Samahang Kickboxing ng Pilipinas (SKP) led by Team Lakay’s Jean Claude Saclag and Gina Iniong-Araos are also assured of silver medals after winning their semifinals matches.

Saclag and Araos were gold medalists in the 2019 SEA Games with Team Lakay chair Mark Sangiao serving as one of the coaches for the national squad.

The other two kickboxers who advanced to the finals are Renalyn Raquel, a Benguet-based athlete, and Claudine Veloso.

Former ONE Championship featherweight world champion Honorio Banario of Mankayan, Benguet and Emmanuel Cantores of Sablan, Benguet, settled for bronze medals in kickboxing.

Banario fell to Lvay Chhoeung of Cambodia in the under 7-kg. while Cantores was defeated by hometown bet Huy Nguyen Quang in the  under 60-kg.

The SKP national squad, which trained in Baguio City and Benguet, is assured of at least six silver medals.

Other members of Team Lakay who are scheduled to see action are Danny Kingad and Jenelyn Olsim in vovinam.

Other Cordilleran athletes will see action in Muay Thai, taekwondo, wushu, and other sports events, as the Philippines is confident to defend the overall title in the SEA Games. – Harley F. Palangchao