Pinay Jiu-Jitsu champ fighting for sport recognition, support

By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America New Bureau

Posted at Jun 23 2015 04:38 PM | Updated as of Jun 24 2015 12:38 AM

SOUTH PASADENA, California – It may have been her superb jiu-jitsu skills that put the world championship in Meggie Ochoa’s possession, but for the 25-year-old, the medal is a symbol of Filipinos and sports fans uniting for a cause.

"Kahit mag-isa ka sa mat na lumalaban, alam mo na hindi lang ang sarili mo ang nakapagdala doon. Bawat panalo hindi lang para sa sarili ko, kundi para sa lahat ng tao na nagbigay, tumulong sa akin para umabot kung nasaan ako," Ochoa said.

Ochoa won her second straight international Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation World Title in California, and both times, the community had supported her.

With no government funds and limited corporate sponsorships, Ochoa has been turning to crowd funding through to help pay for expenses when she and her teammates compete.

She managed to raise over $2,300 this for year’s International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation World Championships in Long Beach.

"Mas motivated akong manalo. Hindi pressure, parang mas gusto ko talagang manalo para sa lahat," she said.

Ochoa is familiar with philanthropic causes. The mixed martial arts enthusiast left her post with the ABS-CBN Foundation's Bantay Kalikasan program as she took her jiu-jitsu training seriously.

Her goal is to win five world titles at five belt levels. With world titles now in two divisions, she believes she can help the sport grow in the Philippines and make an impact to encourage the government to begin recognizing the sport. Jiu-jitsu doesn’t receive government support because it is not an Olympic sport.

"It hasn’t been organized yet in such a way na may structure sa government para makapag-provide ng funding. Para sa akin, sana yung wins na ito mag-push for that kind of structure. Hindi ako naghihintay. Kaya ako nag crowd funding, habang wala pa yung structure na yun, at least makakuha ng title para makitang may potential yung mga Pilipino sa sports na ito," she explained.

Ochoa wasn’t the only winner from the Philippines, Mark Oliver Ho Co also won gold in the white belt division.

Read more on Balitang America: