IHM Student Benjamin Ravelo Scores Major International Taekwondo Victory

Written by: Sean Andrei A. Antonio
Graphics by: Sean Andrei A. Antonio

Second-year BS in International Hospitality Management student Benjamin Ravelo made Enderun Colleges and the whole Philippines proud last July 14 as he managed to bag a gold medal during the 6th Heroes Taekwondo International Championship. Ravelo dominated the Kyorugi B category for the 18 Years + Male Heavyweight division which was held at Assumption University in Suvarnabhumi, Thailand.

Ravelo’s victory was acknowledged through a post made by the official Enderun Colleges Facebook page and as students and teachers congratulated him on his victory, INK Enderun connected with Benjamin to pick his brain about his achievement. What made you want to learn taekwondo, and when did you start?

“Honestly, I do not really remember why I started it. I did Taekwondo during my elementary school days, from grade 4 to 6. I think it was just more of a weight loss outlet rather than a sport I wanted to do.”

Did you see taekwondo as casual at first, or were you more competitive from the get go?

“Well in general I have a huge inclination towards competitive sports and contact sports. Although I entered the sport as more of a casual thing, my natural inclination to being competitive did make me see it more as a thing I have to prove myself in or be good at.”

With your recent achievement in Thailand, how did you feel?

“Honestly, It made me feel really good, not because I won the competition so to speak, but rather because of what it meant. From the get go I felt like an extreme underdog, and like the loser for the family. Everyone around me was successful, and I felt like I was not part of that table. So Since JHS I swore to myself I will out do them all. So years past long story short, I joined the taekwondo team here at Enderun and luckily my coach, Coach Dencio Resaba believed in me and pushed me to join competitions and really pushed me to train, pulling strings so I can join team training with the likes of AIMS Varsity, De La Salle Varsity, and coaches from UE training me, etc. I did that everyday during the summer break. So with all that sacrifice, with all that pain, all that self doubt, and comparing myself, the moment I won, I felt victorious, I felt glorious.”

Did you have any doubts about the competition? How did you give yourself the confidence that you would win it?

“Yes, I was extremely doubtful, I felt like I was gonna lose. I had no confidence. But my coach supported me through it all, telling me I got nothing to prove, I’m a no one in this so win or lose it won’t matter. But he also told me that I have to win, I worked so hard I need this win. But I think the biggest driving factor was really, his belief in me. I think that was what I needed, not only in the sport but in life, someone really believing in me.”

When you first started, did you imagine you’d get yourself this far with taekwondo?

“No, I didn’t. I really just wanted to do Taekwondo during college as a means to lose weight cuz I started at 110kg post pandemic, but because of Taekwondo now I’m actually 86kg. When I joined the first training session of Enderun Taekwondo, I was able to beat my opponent though I was really rusty, so I ended up injuring myself for a whole month but I still kept training. Then here I am.”

How are you able to balance the busy life of studies, and sports at the same time? What are your tips?

“Well I think my only advice is trust the process, and skip the meaningless things. Schedule things right, stop acting busy to look busy. There are a lot of ways to make work efficient, I believe you gotta take advantage of technology …but I think I have to emphasize that I am only using these as tools to improve my work. I also think I just use my time wisely, I was up earlier, and slept earlier, believe it or not but I almost always get 8 hours of sleep. I still go out with my friends, and I still go out to parties from time to time, but I put priority on the things I have to do first.”

Was there a point that you felt like giving up the sport? What made you decide to continue on?

“Yes almost everyday, I mean the ‘motivation’ was really only like a few weeks tops, everything else was just discipline and being a man about it. I wanted to quit everyday after maybe the first 3 weeks. I was fat, I was slow, I was not flexible, I was bad at it. But with discipline, hard work, and grit, I kept going. I didn’t complain, I didn’t give in to laziness and thoughts of quitting. Simply put, I just didn’t do what I felt. I was stoic about it.”

What do you have to say to any future taekwondo students that wish to take on the sport?

“Do it young, getting to black belt is not the goal, being black belt is the beginning to real training, get a good coach, keep joining competitions no matter how much you lose, stretch everyday, and have the discipline to deny yourself comfort.”

Can you share with us your goals and aspirations in both taekwondo and your career?

“I aspire to join the national team in taekwondo, and I also aspire to play in the SEA Games. As for my career, I approach it in phases. Phase 1 would be to build a great academic and professional resume. I live having nice titles and backgrounds [laughs], as in I like fixing my bio and background data on Facebook and LinkedIn. Then I hope to land a job in the hospitality industry in resorts and hotels (luxury and 5 star). That’s the first 10 to 20 years, then alongside those I plan to pursue higher education such as a masters and doctorate, and second degrees. Phase 2, I would like to enter Philippine public life, as a politician figure but not necessarily as a politician in government. Alongside that, I would like to enter the field of government in the Department of Tourism, Department of Education, or Department of Transportation.”

Given taekwondo is a challenging sport that requires more than physical strength, how has your education helped you develop qualities such as mental discipline and resilience, and how do they apply to your Taekwondo journey?

“Well, opposite actually, it was sports that helped me develop the mental discipline to study. Taekwondo does need a lot of physical strength but in all sports the real battle is in the mind, the doubt, the quitter mentality, the fear, the insecurity, no amount of training of the body is gonna make you win until you win against yourself. The only reason that there is physical training in sports in my opinion is to train the body so that it will not be disobedient to the mind.”

INK Enderun extends our congratulations to Benjamin Ravelo for his once in a lifetime achievement!

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