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Teacher turned MMA star Folayang wants change in education sector

Eduard Folayang wants some changes in the way things go for teachers. Rick Dela Cruz (file photo)
By Dugout Philippines

MANILA—Two-time former One lightweight world champion Eduard “Landslide” Folayang of the famed Team Lakay in Baguio City, Philippines is one of the most explosively talented mixed martial artists in the world. But before he ever stepped foot inside the One Circle, Folayang excelled in a much different arena. He guided the nation’s youth as a high school teacher.

This Monday, the entire country celebrates World Teacher’s Day, in honor of those who guide our youth into realizing their full potential, and becoming upstanding members of society.

Folayang recalls his time as a teacher, and how it gave him a sense of achievement whenever he could see his students doing well.

“When you touch the lives of your students, even in the simplest ways, that was the most fulfilling for me, back when I was still teaching in school. It’s such an honorable profession, even if it’s not easy by any means. Being a teacher is hard, but we still do it with a passion because we want our kids to succeed,” said Folayang, who recalls his time spent in the classrooms.

“In some ways, I’m still very much a teacher. Now I teach the younger generation of martial artists, to help them navigate our industry.”

Folayang knows exactly the kind of sacrifices teachers make in order to do what they do. Despite education being one of the most important pillars of modern society, teachers are paid among the lowest salaries in the entire country, and are often overworked, especially public school teachers.

Folayang believes that has to change, in order for the Philippines to have a bright future.

“We need to take care of our teachers because they have a very important role. They take care of our children when we are not able to. They teach them how to be adults. This Teacher’s Day, let’s celebrate our teachers,” said Folayang.

“I think all work has its own unique set of challenges. But as teachers, it’s such a worthy sacrifice. The youth is very important in our society. They will go on to be leaders of our country in their own ways. It’s important that they be brought up with the right values and the right character.”

Having reached the pinnacle of the sport after winning the One lightweight world championship with his 2016 technical knockout victory over Japanese legend Shinya Aoki, and then winning the vacant lightweight title against Amir Khan in 2018, Folayang knows he’s one of the most revered martial artists in the country.

Many of the youth today follow Folayang, and subsequently hold him in very high regard.

The 36-year-old veteran knows this, and says he ultimately tries to be a good example for the youth of today, just as his life’s greatest teacher was.

“I like to inspire by giving a good example. I try to be a good role model. In my position, I know a lot of people look up to me, that’s why I try to conduct myself in the right way. I want to be a good influence on peoples’ lives,” Folayang concluded.

“It’s a very fulfilling feeling when you see your students grow up practicing the principles you taught them. My greatest teacher has been Jesus Christ. I always try to honor God in everything I do.”

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