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Symbols of Strength: The Beauty of Brawn, Grit, and Spirit of Filipino Athletes

Majoy Baron, Volleyball Player. Photo by Photo by Kim Angela Santos. Shot using the HUAWEI PURA 70 PRO

Each muscle, callus, and bruise serve as a manifestation of the battles that athletes face throughout their career.

“This is our battle, this is our war,” exclaims Filipina volleyball player, Majoy Baron. For Majoy, the hardwood courts, clay-paved track courses, and the many settings for competition are the battlefields that test an athlete’s mental and physical prowess. “We all love what we do, so even if the struggles we face day-to-day during training and during competition leave us with scars and injuries, [they] are what build both our bodies and our mental toughness,” she says. 

Photo by Kim Angela Santos. Shot using the HUAWEI PURA 70 PRO

These spaces are not just the sanctuaries where athletes put their devotions into practice, but are also crucibles that temper their skill and experience, riddling their bodies with manifestations of their sacrifice through sharply honed muscles and calluses. Apart from the bodily stress, the battles that these athletes face is often an emotional one. “There were many times I considered leaving the team when I was still in college,” Majoy mentions. “There was just so much I had to adjust to in such a short amount of time.”

Similarly, ballerina Michaella Carreon’s battle scars were also more emotional and mental. “It’s in the small things, like our routines, what we eat, and practicing our techniques. We have to keep absorbing every single correction and all the things that are taught to us,” she explains. 

Photo by Andie Quintos. Shot using the HUAWEI PURA 70 PRO
Photo by Andie Quintos. Shot using the HUAWEI PURA 70 PRO

It is in these battles that mark the countless hours of training and dedication each of them go through, and in a way challenge the conventional beauty stereotypes that prioritize symmetry and perfection.

“My scars and scratches are what push me to stay motivated,” says Bernalyn Bejoy. As an olympic track and field runner and a student-athlete for the De La Salle University, Bernalyn has had a career laden with hardship and sacrifice. “Throughout my life I [struggled] with hamstring injuries,” she says. “It placed a lot of doubt in my mind, but through the words of my coach and my team, I was able to rest and reflect about what being an athlete meant to me.” 

Photo by Kim Angela Santos. Shot using the HUAWEI PURA 70 PRO
Photo by Kim Angela Santos. Shot using the HUAWEI PURA 70 PRO

Bernalyn’s teammate and co-captain for the The Lady Green Tracksters Franz Bintad shares a similar sentiment. The track and field thrower has repeatedly injured her knee throughout her career, which led her to questioning her place in the sport. “I thought I would lose throwing forever,” she mentioned. “I dedicated all my life to this, and losing it was something I couldn’t even imagine.” Despite these challenges, Franz continued to push forward, noting that her calluses and her injuries were symbols of how far she has come, and the goals both her and her team have yet to accomplish. 

(Clockwise L-R:) Bernalyn Bejoy, Track and Field Runner. Michaella Carreon, Ballerina. Majoy Baron, Volleyball Player. Franz Gela Bintad, Track and Field Thrower. Photos by Kim Angela Santos and Andie Quintos. Shot using the HUAWEI PURA 70 PRO

The pair of track and field athletes realized these dreams by achieving a first place podium finish in the recently concluded UAAP Season 86 Athletics Championships, marking the first ever gold medal win for the university. Bernalyn remarked that these scars are what told her and Franz to keep moving forward throughout each bout, serving as their own badges of honor aside from the gold hung around their necks. “These scars are what tell us to remain strong, to be better, and to be proud of what we’ve been through.”

Photography by Kim Angela Santos and Andie Quintos. Video by Chapters PH. Beauty Editor: Joyce Oreña. Art Direction by Andie Quintos and Gabbi Constantino. Makeup by Janica Cleto. Hair by JA Feliciano. Produced by Robert Bradly Hao. Project implemented by Ian Urmaza and Leahkim Orsolino. Talent:  Majoy Baron, Bernalyn Bejoy, Franz Bintad, and Michaella Carreon. Written by Gab Yap

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