Cebu MMA gyms bear brunt of COVID-19 restrictions

By: Glendale G. Rosal - CDN Digital Correspondent | April 06,2021 - 06:00 PM

Ekin Caniga Jr

YawYan Ardigma founder and MMA event organizer Master Benigno “Ekin” Caniga (2nd from right in blue jacket). | CDN file photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines— Cebu is considered a hotbed of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) in the country with a thriving MMA community and more than a dozen MMA gyms operating.

Cebu’s pioneer MMA gym, the YawYan ArDigma, regularly has around a hundred students enrolled in its summer clinic pre-pandemic. However, everything has changed now due to the restriction of staging sports activities. As a result, all MMA gyms in the province including YawYan ArDigma, closed their doors for so many months.

For YawYan ArDigma’s founder and renowned Cebuano MMA event promoter, Master Benigno “Ekin” Caniga Jr., if not for his meager savings, his beloved MMA gym would not have survived the pandemic.

“Lisud gyud kaayo during sa pandemic, bisan karon. Ngano naka survive ang gym tungod kay naa ko gamay nga savings mao akong gibayad sa rental,” Caniga Jr. told CDN Digital.

He said that the building owner where his gym is located did not waive their monthly rentals nor gave them an extension to cope with the losses due to the lockdown.

“Ang tag-iya sa building dili man pahangyo sa rental. Kinahanglan man jud 100-percent ang bayaran. Kung dili mi makabayad sa rental ilaha man i lock ang gym. Muna-muna gyud to namo para maka survive ang gym.”

Caniga’s ordeal is just one of the many challenges for MMA gym owners in Cebu who mainly rely on their students for their income. Some of these MMA gyms have not re-opened their doors until today when the province is already under the most relaxed level of quarantine.

Despite the hardships, Caniga Jr. is slowly getting back on his feet. On April 8, he will be holding his annual summer clinic after a one-year hiatus with the theme “Values Development Through Sports & YawYan ArDigma.”

The summer clinic will be held at the fourth level of the Coast Pacific Downtown Center along Sanciangko St, Cebu City.

Aside from MMA, those who will join the summer clinic can also learn arnis or eskrima, boxing, the traditional YawYan ArDigma combat and self-defense system, and the full-contact tactical self-defense system.

Caniga already expected that only a few would enroll this year due to the pandemic’s repercussions and restrictions.

“Karon nabalik nami, pero dili pa gyud daghan ang mo train kay mahadlok sa COVID. Dako kaayo adjustment among gibuhat sa sitwasyon sa business sa combat sports para lang maka survive. Mingaw pa gyud karon nga time. Maulian ra ni kung mawala na ang pandemic. Mabalik ra ni tanan sa normal,” said Caniga Jr. /rcg

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TAGS: COVID-19, mixed martial arts, mma, pandemic

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