Lara Pearl Alvarez, who used to train in famed Benguet-stable Team Lakay, has been away from martial arts for more than two years now.
But when she came back to the gym to ask coach Mark Sangiao a favor prior to her participation in ONE Championship’s edition of “The Apprentice,” Alvarez felt the same old warm welcome as part of the Team Lakay family.
“Noong nakuha nila (The Apprentice) ako, I needed backstory materials. I went to talk to coach Mark and doon ko na-feel ‘yung welcome pa rin as a family — ‘yung kumustahan and support ni coach Mark sa akin (When I made it into The Apprentice, I needed backstory materials. I went to talk to coach Mark and I still felt the support and welcome as family during our meeting),” recalled Alvarez over Radyo Pilipinas 2 Saturday, Feb. 13.
Alvarez said the soft-spoken Team Lakay coach had given her pieces of advice and tips ahead of her appearance in the hit reality show, which premieres in Asia next months and globally in June.
At that time, only Sangiao was the only one from Team Lakay who had learned about Alvarez’s participation.
And the teacher-student bond is pretty much evident despite Alvarez’s hiatus in the sport, keeping the whole situation a secret due to ONE’s policy to avoid spoilers prior to shooting.
The 25-year-old Alvarez, a former taekwondo and wushu practitioner, had to give up training after having a hard time balancing her work as an accountant. When she was 22 years old, Alvarez got pregnant and since then became a proud single mother to one-year-old son Marcuz David.
“I’ve been away for too long — for two years sa Team Lakay — but when I came back, ganoon pa rin ‘yung embrace nila sa’yo bilang part of the family (but when I came back, they still embraced me as part of the family). And with that, I’m really grateful sa support ng Team Lakay (And with that, I’m really grateful for Team Lakay’s support),” said Alvarez, who competes alongside compatriot Louie Sangalang, also a former mixed martial arts champion who now runs his own procurement consulting firm, in “The Apprentice.”
The fighter-turned-accountant hopes to become the next apprentice of ONE CEO and founder Chatri Sityodtong, with the winner bound to get a $25,000 job offer to work under the ONE chief himself in Singapore.
Alvarez and Sangalang were among the 16 final candidates who took on different physical challenges and business-related tasks with the help of guest CEOs and MMA stars.