SUBIC, ZAMBALES — Local Muaythai artists Jearome Calica and Joemar Gallaza overcame the odds, dazzling in the waikru event of the 30th Southeast Asian Games, Wednesday at the Exhibition and Convention Center.
Calica, 37, and Gallaza, 28, were a class above the rest in the event that showcases the calm of muay’s pre-fight ritual and the brute of the sport itself.
The duo averaged 9.59 points in the two-round competition. They scored 9.57 in the opening salvo, before upping the ante in the final stanza, tallying a 9.61 in the eyes of the judges.
“Nag-base sila sa technique and power, tapos extra point din ‘yung tricks and stunts,” said Baguio-native Calica. The team had trained in Thailand for 40 days to prep for this event.
This is the Philippines’ first gold in the sport since 2013, or since Preciosa Ocaya took down the women’s 54kg weight class in Myanmar.
Malaysia’s Hatem Rumijan and Mohamad Ismail took second with a score of 9.21; meanwhile, Indonesia’s Muhammad Sudirman and Lorens Walun copped bronze with 8.84. Vietnam also competed in the four-nation event.
For the distaff’s side, the Philippines’ Irendin Lepayan and Rusha Bayacsan made silver shine like gold. The two almost toppled heavy-favorites Thanawan Thongduang and Ruchira Wongsriwo of Thailand.
The Filipinas tallied 9.45 points, just .03 points of an upset.
“Nung first round mataas talaga ‘yung Thailand. Pero ‘yung second time na nag-perform kami, inisip talaga namin na lamangan sila,” lamented Lepayan, a Cebuana whose previous sport was pencak silat. “Hindi lang talaga kami pinagpala.”
Vietnam’s Ha Huu Hieu Huynh and Thi Lua Tran completed the podium.
Waikru is making its debut in the regional tiff.
Tomorrow, the combat part of the tournament begins still at the same venue.