Team Lakay's Mark Sangiao ponders joining The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition


Posted at Mar 29 2020 01:56 PM

Team Lakay coach Mark Sangiao with Eduard Folayang. Richard Esguerra, ABS-CBN Sports

MANILA, Philippines -- "The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition" is coming in the second half of 2020, with 16 contestants from various parts of the world competing in a "high-stakes game of business competitions and physical challenges."

The winner of the show gets a $250,000 job offer to work directly under ONE Championship Founder, Chairman and chief executive Chatri Sityodtong for a year in Singapore. Thousands of applications have poured in, and the selection and casting process is underway.

One man who is thinking about joining the show is Team Lakay founder and coach Mark Sangiao.

He is not only the head coach and owner of the Philippines' most prolific martial arts outfit, but also a savvy businessman who has the experience and know-how in building a successful company and brand.

"More than a hundred percent, I would say yes if given the chance," said Sangiao. "I would do anything that would be good for me, my family, my athletes, Team Lakay, and future warriors."

"An opportunity like this would be hard to say no to," he admitted.

-- The will to win --

Like many of his pupils, Sangiao's march towards success was fueled by extreme hardship. The Filipino martial arts icon pursued his passion with no money in his pockets. All he had was an iron will and a strong desire to chase his dreams.

"Early in my martial arts career, I would borrow money countless times just so I could travel from Baguio to Manila every time I had a fight," he recalled. "Life was hard. I started from zero. I had nothing."

Sangiao would make the six-hour trip to Manila by himself, with no coaches and no teammates. He competed and then returned to Baguio with his earnings, but they were rarely enough for him to make it through and provide for his needs on a daily basis.

"When I was teaching martial arts, I used to jog six kilometers everyday, both ways, from La Trinidad to Baguio City since I had no money to pay for my jeepney fare," he said. "Some students would help me by giving me five pesos, so I didn't have to travel on foot."

"I taught for passion, for almost no pay," he stressed.

On The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition, contestants will endure similar tough situations.

The show's business challenges present a real-world set of tasks to complete, some of which are seemingly impossible. Similar to what Sangiao has already experienced in his life, contestants will have to dig deep and be creative in overcoming the odds.

"When I first started Team Lakay, we had just one pair of gloves which we all shared. All our training and equipment, everything was improvised," he said. "We trained outdoors and made use of the beautiful nature in Baguio City to train. It was free."

Today, Team Lakay is the Philippines' most recognizable martial arts faction. Sangiao has established four training locations, with the central gym in La Trinidad featuring top-of-the-lone facilities and equipment.

Sangiao stresses that there is no secret to his success -- just hard work and determination, and the will to succeed.​

-- Building the Philippines' most prolific martial arts gym --

What makes Sangiao stand out is his remarkable mind. Whatever challenges he is faced with, Sangiao is always able to devise ways to get past obstacles.

"People call me a strategist, because I don't just rush into things. I like to create a plan," he said. "Not just as a coach, but in my entire approach to life in general."

"I like to think deep about things and I always have a long-term future goal. I set a goal, and no matter how hard or impossible it may look, I do everything in my power to make it happen," he said.

Since the beginning, Team Lakay has made the best of its meager facilities. Observing the team's history throughout the years, it is astonishing how much they have accomplished with so little.

To date, the team has produced an impressive group of world champions. Eduard Folayang, Honorio Banario, Geje Eustaquio, and Kevin Belingon all previously held World Titles with ONE Championship. Joshua Pacio is the reigning ONE Strawweight World Champion, and Stephen Loman is the Brave Combat Federation Bantamweight Champion.

To say that what Sangiao and Team Lakay have accomplished is extraordinary is a true understatement. The group has garnered so many accolades throughout the years, while training in a very small, spartan gym.

But Sangiao never let go of his dream to have a gym complete with the best gear and facilities so he and his students could make the best out of training.

"Four years ago, it seemed impossible to happen, but I worked hard for it. I envisioned it, and when the opportunity came about, we took it. I didn’t even think about the kind of money we needed to spend to put it up, for all the new machines we had to buy, for the rent we had to pay. I just took the chance, and here we are. We're doing okay," he said.

Team Lakay eventually built the gym of their dreams, and the team is now producing the next generation of world champions in the Philippines.

"It takes a goal, a firm and strong mind to reach that goal, an opportunity, and the heart to succeed. You just have to have patience and wait for the right time. More importantly, you need the right people working with you. You have to surround yourself with like-minded people. With that, there is no impossible dream," said Sangiao.

-- The perfect candidate --

ONE has yet to announce the first wave of contestants for The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition. Scores of applicants have already begun to make their intentions known, and Sangiao himself is pondering the possibilities.

"The perfect candidate has to have that strong determination to make goals materialize. He or she needs to know how to take risks, but calculated risks with smart filtering decisions, and to be prepared for whatever results may come," said Sangiao.

"You can’t be afraid to take chances when opportunities present themselves, even if you’re not a hundred percent sure you will succeed. Opportunity is opportunity, and you have to be brave enough to grab it, and invest in it," he added.

Sangiao has no doubt proven with his own career and struggles that having little is no excuse not to try. He says contestants have to find ways to succeed, despite the odds stacked against them.

"If money is an issue, you have many other advantages to lean back on. You have your time, your effort, and your mind. Bank on your abilities, and things will fall into place," Sangiao concluded.

Sityodtong says The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition will be the toughest in the history of the show.

For interested applicants who want to audition, information can be found at this link:

(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).