IN martial arts, the credo “defend yourself at all times” is of utmost importance and also holds true off the mat, as proven by the Philippine karatedo team on Tuesday.
With the controversial ‘Laglag Bala’ scam a constant threat in the country's airports, departing membes of the national karatedo squad were seen on Tuesday at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport with their luggage wrapped heavily in tape as a precaution from being victimized by suspected extortionists.
The karatedo's bags also had signs that said, 'Di ako lupa para taniman mo (ng bala)' and 'trending ka na, boy' - messages obviously meant for the people behind the headline-grabbing scam.
Philippine Karatedo Federation (PKF) secretary general Raymund Lee Reyes explained that members of the national squad were on their way to attend a training camp in Istanbul, Turkey when they decided to adopt extra measures to protect themselves.
“Nag-meeting kasi kami na mag-ingat sila kasi baka ma-timingan. Siyempre, ‘yung mga bata, ayaw nila mamroblema. Kaya gumawa sila ng ganung sign. Gusto nila maayos ‘yung biyahe nila."
“Dinepensahan nila ‘yung sarili nila,” Reyes explained.
The athletes who made the trip to Istanbul were Mae Soriano, Rexor Romaquin, Kristina Charisse Santiago, John Paul Bejar, Jemmelyn Talampas, Elvin Vergavera, Carmelo Patricio, Engene Stoner Dagohoy, and Jayson Ramil Macaalay.
Reyes said the training camp is part of their preparation for next year’s World Championship and possibly the 2020 Tokyo Olympics if the sport gets the nod by host Japan.
“Ang karate bidding for (a place in the calendar of the) 2020 Olympics. Hinahanda ko na rin sila doon,” said Reyes.