For reigning ONE Strawweight World Champion Joshua “The Passion” Pacio, being a World Champion is not just about wearing a golden belt across his shoulder for all to see.
He views his status as an opportunity to use his growing influence to help out his people in times when they need it most.
A week before Pacio won the ONE Strawweight World Title from Yoshitaka “Nobita” Naito at ONE: CONQUEST OF HEROES last September, his hometown of Baguio City, Philippines was struck with a series of typhoons.
Landslides and flash floods battered the city, leaving many homes in ruins and residents without access to basic necessities like food, water, and shelter.
In everyone’s life, their will be always Ups and Downs , their will always be challenges ,their will be always storms of…
“It was sad. A lot of Filipinos suffered, especially the people of Baguio. It was a very tough time for all of us,” Pacio explains.
“We did whatever we could do to help. These people aren’t just fans for us, they are like family. They are the ones who keep us going, and who we represent each time we step into the cage.
“Without them, Team Lakay would not be where we are today.
“I had a lot of close family members that were affected by what happened. Thank God they all made it out safe, but not everyone was lucky. A lot of people we knew personally had lost their homes, and some even lost their lives.”
Pacio – who was deep in training at that time for the biggest bout of his career – promised to concentrate more on his relief efforts when he returned home from Jakarta.
A week later, he came back to Baguio as a World Champion, and he dedicated his title-winning victory to the victims of the typhoon, many of whom either perished or were seriously injured.
“The win, the title, it was for everyone,” Pacio says.
“We are strong people, and together, I knew we would bounce back. Actually, after the fight with Naito, all I could think of was getting back to Baguio and helping out.
“It was important for myself and the team. We’re in this position for a reason, and that is so we can use this platform to give back to others, especially those in need.”
With his job done in the cage, he turned his attention – along with the rest of Team Lakay – to relief efforts, which involved distributing food and water to displaced families, clearing debris, and providing shelter.
For “The Passion,” helping out back home is a duty. It is something he cares deeply about. He will do everything he can to bring Baguio back to its feet – whether that is through helping those in need directly, or inspiring people through his performances.
“This is why we do what we do. We want to show everyone that after every storm, the sun will rise again,” Pacio adds.
“I want to inspire young children. I want to give my people hope that they can come back from anything. I want to prove that a boy from Baguio City can be the best in the world.”
When Pacio returns to action on Saturday, 19 January in Jakarta, Indonesia, he will aim to deliver another performance to make his compatriots happy and proud.
A victory against the toughest opponent of his career, Pacio says, will not just belong to him – it will be for everyone in the Philippines.
“There will always be high and low points in life. It’s the same way as martial artists. We experience the highs and lows of our career,” he says.
“There will always be challenges, but it’s important that we do our best to help each other in times of need. I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for the people who care about me – my friends, my family, my brothers at Team Lakay, and the fans.
“That’s why every victory for me in the cage is a victory for all. If what I do in the cage is inspiring someone out there, telling them that they can push forward no matter how difficult the obstacle, then I am doing my job well. I am happy.”