SEA Games gold haul cements Cordillera's claim as center for PH combat sports

BAGUIO, Philippines – Cordillera, the least populated but the biggest producer of gold in the country, added 18 more during the 30th Southeast Asian Games held in the Philippines.

Of these gold medals, almost all came from combat sports, cementing the region’s claim as the center of combat sports in the country.

Only Sandi Menchi Abahan and Stephanie Sabalo are the exceptions. Abahan, a world class ultramarathoner, won in the 5-kilometer division of the obstacle course while Sabalo won two golds in dancesports with partner Michael Angelo Marquez for Latin 5 dance and paso doble. Sabalo, a former cheerleader of Saint Louis University, also won a silver for Latin jive.

Gina Iniong (55 kg light), Jerry Olsim (69 kg light) and Jean Claude Saclag (63.5 kg light) all won for kickboxing on the penultimate day of the games. They're also Team Lakay stalwarts. Other Team Lakay members who won are MMA star and actor Mark Edward Striegl for sambo and Jearome Anton Calica for muay thai.

Kurt Bryan Barbosa of Abra and Jeordan Dominguez of Mountain Province won golds for taekwondo.

Arnis athletes won the most golds from Cordillera – Crisamuel Delfin of Benguet, Abegail Dulawan Abad (padded stick welterweight) and Elmer Manlapaz (padded stick lightweight) of Baguio. Delfin wore a G-string to impress judges in the traditional anyo category.


Jason Saltin Baucas of Benguet won the first ever gold for the Philippines in Greco Roman wrestling. Ariel Lee Lampacan collected for muay thai and Divine Masadao Wally for sanshou wushu.

The first to strike gold for Cordillera was Estie Gay Dulnuan Liwanen for kurash.

In online combat, Kenneth Villa of Baguio was a member of Team Sibol which won gold in Mobile Legend: Bang Bang in esports.

Cordillera also garnered 7 silver medals for wrestling (Minalyn Foy-os), kickboxing (Renalyn Dacquel and Jomar Balangui), muay thai (Jenelyn Olsim, Rusha Bayacsan and Islay Erika Bomogao) and wushu (Gideon Padua). It also gathered 5 bronzes from sambo, muay thai and kickboxing. –