March 23, 2023

Two jiu-jitsu athletes in the Cordillera now hold a spot in the Philippine jiu-jitsu team after hurdling the recent 2023 national team selection trials organized by the Jiu-Jitsu Federation of the Philippines in Makati City last month.

Geeno Abalos of Ronin La Trinidad displayed his skill in submitting black belter and national team member Myron Mangubat of Carpe Diem, the latter enduring his foot lock until the time ended.

UNITED AS ONE — Jiu jitsu athletes and coaches from C-Gambit Jiu Jitsu, Ronin La Trinidad, and Ronin Baguio pose with Prof. Manny Jimenez III (fifth from bottom left) and other representatives affiliated under Checkmat Philippines during a recent tournament where two Cordillerans in Gregorio Abalos III and Godwin Langbayan earned spots to be part of the national training pool. — Contributed photo

The game ended in Mangubat’s favor with only a two-point advantage in their gi match. 

Abalos clinched a bronze medal in the no-gi division during the event, which was also part of the Southeast Asian Friendship Games. His performances made him a potential representative for the Philippines in future international events.

Godwin Langbayan also cemented his spot in the national jiu-jitsu team when he transferred to a higher weight class and won bronze in the no gi male adults open belt.

Langbayan of Team Fabricio under coach Stephen Kampheus is an Air Force serviceman and the brother of Prof. Gibran Langbayan, the first Igorot to earn a BJJ black belt.

Both BJJ practitioners were part of the contingent from Baguio and Benguet during the event that bagged a medal haul of 19 gold, nine silver, and 22 bronze medals.

Leading the athletes with her medal haul was playing coach Aithana Caranto with four gold medals while her teammate Aira Jade Albon bagged one gold and two silvers. Both athletes train out of C-Gambit Jiu Jitsu under coach Wilbert Pinkihan.

Academia Militar Philippines of the Philippine Military Academy top seed Cadet First Class Fitzel Mae Leal brought home three golds followed by 1CL Cyrah Dionne Buhain with two golds while 1CL Joseph Andrei Bolalin won one gold and one silver.

3CL Jethro Zeus Amangan bagged one gold despite suffering a leg injury in his no-gi match. 

Their teammates who also contributed medals were 1CL Alyssa Agnes Jarina with two silvers; 1CL Anna Pamela Balo with one silver and one bronze; 1CL Raphael Gentallan with one silver  and one bronze; while winning two bronze medals each were 1CL Debbie Novisteros, 1CL Eugene Alfonso, 3CL Westley Lee, and 3CL Bumatay (no first name). 

Winning a bronze medal each 2CL Dan Bernard Cojpag, 2CL Jun Tito Ramirez, and 2CL Howell Vince Alalim.

The PMA cadets were led by head coach Rexberto Ramirez and his assistance coaches Aithana Caranto and Geronimo Guillermo.  

Ronin Brazilian Jiu Jitsu La Trinidad under coach Morrizon Jose also contributed medals with Hideshiko Nozawa leading the team with two gold, one silver, and one bronze medals; Jezebelle Padtoc with one gold and one silver; Cyrus Dominique Fider with one gold and two bronze medals; Geremy Bahingawan with one gold; Renan Li with one silver and one bronze; and Joshua Lalwet with one bronze.

Ivan Jules de Vera bagged a gold and a bronze, as he also represented Ronin Baguio, which is affiliated under Chekmat Manila together with Ronin La Trinidad.

With the sheer number of BJJ gyms in Baguio and Benguet representing Checkmat Philippines, the team won the following awards: second place in team championships gi and no gi and second place overall, tying with Team Fabricio that both earned 180 points overall.

Carpe Diem Manila took the first place overall plum. – Ofelia C. Empian