Sangiao remembers departed ‘Master Felix’
Felix Agayas, the first kickboxing mentor of Team Lakay coach Mark Sangiao, passed away Friday midnight.
He was 70.
Sangiao confirmed the passing of Agayas – fondly called Master Felix— in a Facebook post.
“It was a humbling voyage, a stiff learning yet warm and uplifting. I’m forever grateful to this teacher of mine,” the 41-year-old Sangiao wrote.
“What and who I become now was a product of who schooled me well and the things they’ve accorded to me altruistically. Those arduous days were the magic formula that formed me.”
Sangiao told the Manila Bulletin in a phone interview Saturday that Agayas suffered from stroke and has been bedridden for two years now.
Master Felix’s son, Jonathan, confirmed the news to Sangiao. Felix was supposed to celebrate his 71st birthday next Wednesday, July 29.
“The first light of today gave me the message that my teacher pushed the daisies up. Right at my heart, I was glad that I got to see him one last time just a few days back,” the Lakay mentor added.
“I got to convey my rooted gratitude and respect before he drew his final moment. I firmly held his hand, looked at him and bid my goodbye. Though he was not that physically responsive, I knew he felt how thankful I am. I am and will always be.
“So long Master. We will be talking fondly about you and the good old days. The Great Master up high put His arms around you. Go, fly. You can now finally rest.”
Sangiao paid a visit to Master Felix at the hospital last July 9 and also posted a photo of them together in his Facebook page.
“Mahirap rin siya makapagsalita noon. Hindi siya makagalaw [at] payat na payat,” he said, adding that Agsaya also underwent brain surgery.
“Kung mapansin mo tabingi ang head niya [dahil sa surgery]. Tapos inuwi na lang siya sa bahay. Doon siya nagpapalakas.”
Sangiao recalled how he first met the man with the ‘iron fist.’ The year was 1995 and his friend invited him to watch a kickboxing event, which was popularly known in the mountains of Cordillera at that time.
“1995 [was] when I first met Master Felix, when our training ground was just outside the church. That started our teacher- student kickboxing expeditions together and as they say, the rest is history.”
Even before Sangiao etched his name in the wushu and mixed martial arts scene, his journey started with the Red Lion Kickboxing Club.
The stable, founded by Master Felix in 1990, is one of the most renowned kickboxing clubs in the region.
Then 16-year-old Sangiao, a high-schooler, slowly took a liking to the sport after watching several Red Lion fighters win main events in kickboxing tournaments.
Three years later, Sangiao, 19, got an athletic scholarship offer from University of Cordillera, formerly known as Baguio Colleges Foundation.
He transitioned into taekwondo before being picked as part of the wushu varsity squad and eventually won a gold medal in the 2001 SEA Games in Malaysia. At that point in time, Sangiao and Agayas have little to no time to see each other.
But Sangiao made sure to carry all the lessons he learned from his Master. In fact, the man with the ‘iron fist’ wasn’t at all strict.
The ‘iron fist’ was described for a reason because Agayas would let his students strike his bare hands while training.
“Hindi siya ganun kastrikto pero kung may tinuturo lang, gawin mo. May paddings pero minsan syempre kung mag-i-instruct siya as partner mo, yung kamay niya yung pinapasipa niya,” Sangiao recalled.
Before Agayas fell ill, Sangiao would invite him to tournaments organized by Team Lakay. But little did Sangiao knew that it will be the last time they would bond over sports.
“Ang pinaka naalala ko noong malakas pa siya, hinatid ko ‘yung anak ko (Jhanlo) na magsamba tapos sinabi niya na ‘wag mong kalimutan ang Panginoon.’ ‘Yun lang ang sinabi niya sa akin,” the Lakay coach said.
“Pero ‘yun ang ‘di ko makakalimutan. ‘Yun ‘yung pinaka the best na narining ko sa kanya.”