Agatha Wong Wants You To Learn About Wushu

How Wushu Champion Agatha Wong Went From Child Prodigy to Captain 

Agatha wears a JOEY SAMSON blazer. Photographed by Mark Nicdao for the July 2024 Issue of Vogue Philippines.

Agatha Wong is the girl with the sword, and she’s completely owning it.

“The one with the sword” is an identifier five-time SEA Games gold medalist Agatha Wong is perfectly comfortable with. “What gets people’s attention is when I say [that we have weapons],” she says, with a playful gleam in her eye. “They’re like, ‘Ano yun? The sword? That’s so cool.’ I’ll use it to my advantage.” Still, Wong doesn’t need any props to confirm she’s a badass. She’s the team captain in a predominantly male contingent and has no problems asserting herself or whipping the boys into shape. “Whenever I tell them, ‘Clean this, be responsible, umayos kayo,’ they follow naman,” she says. “Before I started winning, I was a really shy, quiet girl, but they didn’t use that against me. They were super friendly, welcoming, inviting. The culture in wushu is very nice.”

It’s also very nice being at the absolute top of her game. “I want it to be that when Filipinos think of wushu, they think of me. People think there are a lot of girls in wushu, but there are so little. We’re just starting to build the female category.” Formidable female role model is another title that suits her: “There are parents who see me and they’re like, ‘I want my daughter to be like you.’”

Wong began her journey in wushu at just eight years old. Specializing in taolu, she demonstrated extraordinary talent and dedication from the start. Her career has been marked by numerous accolades. In 2013, she clinched her first medal at the Asian Junior Wushu Championships in Makati, Philippines, by winning the under-15 women’s 32 form taijiquan event. The following edition in Inner Mongolia, China, saw her win gold in Taijijian and bronze in Taijiquan, solidifying her status as a rising star in the sport.

Wushu athlete Agatha Wong wears a MARTIN BAUTISTA dress. Photographed by Mark Nicdao for the July 2024 Issue of Vogue Philippines.

Despite financial challenges and a slipped disc injury, Wong secured a bronze medal at the 2018 Asian Games held in Jakarta-Palembang. “The financial issues prevented our delegation from training in China, which is customary for high-profile competitions,” Wong explains. Yet, her resolve remained unshaken. The same year, at the 2018 Asian Traditional Wushu Championships in Nanjing, China, Wong clinched two more medals for the Philippines, besting the Group B women’s Taijijian and Group B women’s Taijiquan events. Her impressive performance continued at the Southeast Asian Games, where she earned a gold medal for the taijiquan event and a silver for taijijian in 2017, followed by two gold medals for the taijiquan and taijijian events at the 2019 SEA Games in the Philippines.

Wong’s introduction to wushu began in an unlikely place—an exhibition at a mall in the Philippines. “My grandmother saw an exhibition of wushu. They were handing out flyers to join our sports clinic for kids,” the star athlete recalls. This chance encounter led her to a sport that would later define her career.

Despite dabbling in various sports as a child, Wong chose wushu because it was relatively unknown and exceptionally challenging. Initially, she didn’t have a clear goal in mind. However, her love for wushu and her natural talent quickly propelled her onto the world stage. “I just knew I loved the sport,” Wong says. “Last year, I realized that I really wanted to be a world champion.”

However, this dream also came with its challenges. For Wong, the pressure of representing her country and maintaining her status is immense. “Every time there’s SEA Games season, it’s really hard on me mentally because of the expectations,” she admits, noting that as an introvert, she often retreats from the media to focus on her training.

Agatha wears a JOEY SAMSON blazer. Photographed by Mark Nicdao for the July 2024 Issue of Vogue Philippines.

Beyond the mental strain, Wong has faced challenges related to body image, a common issue among female athletes. “In 2019, I was really heavy, about 58 kilograms, and I wasn’t comfortable with my body,” Wong shares. The pandemic, however, gave her the chance to lose weight and find a more comfortable state. “Now I’m at 50-51 kilograms, and I’m more comfortable that way.”

Wong also opened up about being a woman in a predominantly male sport. “Sometimes, I’m the only girl they send to the gym,” Wong notes. “I’m so proud to say that because that means I’m a strong woman!” Her experience training alongside men and becoming the team captain had only made her stronger.

Despite the difficulties, Wong remains dedicated to her advocacy: increasing awareness and appreciation for wushu in the Philippines. Her advocacy highlights the cultural and historical significance of wushu, aiming to shift the perception of the sport from a niche martial art to a respected and recognized athletic discipline. “I want the Filipino people to know: when they think of wushu, they think of me,” she says.

Wong believes that increased awareness of wushu can foster national pride and inspire young athletes to explore martial arts. “Wushu is not just about physical strength; it’s about discipline, art, and philosophy,” Wong explains. “By promoting wushu, we can encourage a new generation to embrace these values.”

This month, Vogue Philippines pays tribute to stories of grit, determination, and the pursuit of excellence. Below, meet more of the athletes who continue to shatter the glass ceiling of sports.


Vogue Philippines: July 2024 Issue

By BIANCA CUSTODIO, NANA CARAGAY, PATRICIA VILLORIA Photographs by MARK NICDAO Beauty Editor JOYCE OREÑA Fashion Director PAM QUIÑONES. Stylists: David Milan, Steven Coralde of Qurator Studio. Makeup: Angeline dela Cruz, Bea Mocorro, Janica Cleto, and Japeth Purog of Estée Lauder Philippines, Nadynne Esguerra. Hair: JA Feliciano and Kyle Velasco, Jessica Riva and Noel Muncada of Toni&Guy Philippines, Mong Amado. Art Director: Jann Pascua. Producer: Anz Hizon. Bookings Associate: Bianca Zaragoza. Beauty Writer: Bianca Custodio. Nails: Extraordinail. Photographer’s Assistants: Arsan Sulser Hofileña, Crisaldo Soco, John Phillip Nicdao, Villie James Bautista. Stylist’s Assistants: Geno Karlo, Kyla Uy, Ticia Almazan. Shot on location at Balay Kobo and Vogue Studios.
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