Negrenses make the cut


For the first time, Negros Season of Culture trains her eyes on a topic not quite easily found within the radar of heritage and culture. But sports surprises. We’ve three stories that boldly express the Negrense heritage of working hard to excel, and the attendant culture of breaking barriers to make new ground.

Julie Uychiat: World Marathon Challenge 2022

Negrense Julie Uychiat is an international-class marathon runner. This year she will take on the World Marathon Challenge 2022 – seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. And yet, just seven years ago, Julie hated running. And only because up until 2015 she’s had no running background. Self-imposed fear of failure went out the window when her sister urged her to give running a chance, saying, “It won’t kill you”. And we all know what happens when something doesn’t kill you.

Stronger, Julie crossed the finish line in Phoenix recently bursting with emotion after clocking far faster than planned. Unexpected reaction from anyone who has done almost all of the major world marathons – Berlin, Chicago, Boston, New York, London, and soon, Tokyo. But not Julie, for her story goes beyond medals. It is a story of human mettle nurtured with modesty, of grit nourished with gratitude. She confirms, “We just need to first believe that we are limitless and put forth the effort to see the miracles happen.”

Go over the list of sports events in any major global meet and you can easily identify which ones Filipinos do not join. That leads us to falsely suppose that we do not qualify. Enter a Negrense swimmer to banish the thought. Synchronized swimming, now renamed artistic swimming because solo and duet events have been added to the traditional group performance, has attracted Giella Sanchez. She is a mover of the Garcia-Sanchez Swim School in Bacolod, the same Garcia-Sanchez family that has excelled for years in dance and performing arts. From these disciplines, Giella summons a balance of grace and skill to crack the sport for Filipinos.

Giella Sanchez: Artistic Swimming Philippines

Focused on this goal, the Garcia-Sanchez Swim School has formed an artistic swim team with Giella as coach. She performs duet with her niece Carmina. Meanwhile, Carmina also represents the team in artistic swimming solo category. The Garcia-Sanchez Artistic Swimming Team has competed for the Philippines, reflecting the Negrense desire to step up the plate and live up to the challenge.

Lek Brodeth: Mountain Bike Downhill

If gravity thrills you, then our third story is right up your alley. MTB DH – Mountain Bike Downhill. The Jumpong Hill Downhill Bike Challenge recently held in Don Salvador Benedicto, Negros Occidental, was the first live event that Negros Season of Culture covered. We followed one of the racers, Lek Brodeth, the leader of the Cyclopaedia Race Team. With him are seven racers in this 15-man group, all focused on carving a name for the team in MTB DH, in step with the rise in popularity of the sport in regional meets, including the Southeast Asian Games.

Lek’s journey to biking was totally unplanned but strewn with obstacles that came in quick succession, pushing the detours he made. A knee injury from mixed martial arts in 2019 led him to take up cycling as a low impact alternative. And then in 2020 the pandemic lockdown forced him to open a bike shop. After that, the lure of MTB DH adrenaline rush was just too much to resist. The Negrense’s passion for adventure does not fade. It may rest to heal, it may even morph, but for sure it will rise again.

The logo depicts three of the featured sports for the month in their natural environment. It combines all three into one image that clearly emphasizes the athlete’s role in the sport, while keeping it cohesive and lively.

Text By: Alan S. Gensoli
Photos By: Unit A Creatives, Julie Uychiat

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