Long May She Reign

In the middle of the madness and ballyhoo of NOLA’s wrestling weekend, I want to take the time to discuss someone who just became a new WWE champion. Someone whose career I followed dating all the way back about half a decade ago. Someone who reignited my love for professional wrestling.

I want to talk about Shayna “The Queen of Spades” Baszler.

For the uninitiated, Shayna is a former MMA fighter and current pro-wrestler from Sioux Falls, South Dakota and is one of the true pioneers of Women’s Mixed Martial Arts (WMMA). I use the term “true pioneers” to describe Shayna because she was fighting all the way back to when cage-fighting, let alone women’s cage-fighting was considered as something along the same lines of doing porn. This was a time when if someone decided to be a cage-fighter, it was probably because there was no better alternative for them.

One could say that it was a time when it was perfectly okay for a 300+ lb. monster like Bob Sapp to fight someone a third his size like Kiyoshi Tamura, but that’s still happening today (*cough* Gabi Garcia *cough*) and I’ve deviated from my point.

Anyway, I first came across Shayna Baszler when she was a part of Team Ronda Rousey on the 18th season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), the reality show of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Shayna is a Catch Wrestler. Catch Wrestling, or Catch As Catch Can (meaning ‘catch any hold you wanted or could’), is one of the oldest forms of combat. It’s lineage dating back to 648 B.C., when it was first introduced as pankration in the Greek Olympics. Unlike other forms like Greco-Roman, Catch is the first “freestyle” form, and is less rigid in their rule set. Shayna’s association with Catch has to do with her lineage of coaching under former UFC champion Josh Barnett, coach Erik Paulson, and the late, great Billy Robinson. (For more information about the sport, follow @CatchWrestling on Twitter.)

To call Baszler a wrestling aficionado would be a gross understatement. It is to be believed that Shayna is the reason why Ronda Rousey is now a WWE superstar, and is one of the reasons why the “Four Horsewomen” concept even exists.

About a decade ago, I lost my love for pro-wrestling. But Shayna brought that back through to her immense and steadfast passion for it in all its myriad forms. It’s infectious in a good way, to say the least.

Shayna Baszler is more than just a WMMA pioneer, ex-UFC fighter, and ex-MMA fighter. She’s a prime example of how a student of the sport can, with enough patience and perseverance, make it to the top. She’s someone who has experienced her share of ups and downs, triumphs and tribulations, yet stayed true to herself and stayed the course towards something she is passionate about and didn’t stop until she got to where she wants to be. And now she’s the new NXT Champion.

As a Baszler fan, from her MMA run to her Twitch streams to her indie career to her competition in the Mae Young Classic and now as NXT champ, I am nothing short of proud to be a #Shaynasexual.

Let the naysayers cry. Let the haters hate. That’s their job. Yeah, she doesn’t “run the ropes” (whatever that means). Like it or not, the War Wagon is on course, Shayna Baszler is the woman to beat, and god help anyone who tries to stop into her squared kingdom to attempt to take her crown. She’s not in the ring with you, you’re in the ring with her.

Long live the Queen. Long may she reign.

049_NXT_04072018dg_2892--6d35f0e17491b62b9590b6c505c0b1a2Photo © WWE


Thought Dump: Being Angry & The Inferiority Complex

I don’t like being angry. I mean who does, right? No one likes being angry unless you’re a complete weirdo. What I mean is, I know what I’m like when I’m angry, and I don’t like me when I’m angry. Because even if I’m in the right, if I get angry I’ll end up being the asshole at the end of it.

I know me, and I know the venom I’ve spewed in bouts of rage. When I say “venom” I’m not trying to sound like some kind of hardass. It’s not fun, and I hurt people more than I intend to. I don’t know how to control it other than just biting my tongue and letting it pass over me begrudgingly as I fantasize in my head of 50 ways to kill a mofo and how to make them look like an accident.

I just don’t appreciate people who can’t commit to doing their job, especially if it’s a job that THEY committed to do in the first fucking place. If there was a valid reason, like a tragedy happened or a major illness, sure. But “I went out and got drunk with friends so I forgot” is NOT a valid reason. Get drunk with your dumb friends on your OWN time, not mine. Because that’s a surefire way to get me raging. Or in a bad enough state where I’m barely restraining myself from choking you out. Dummy.

Obviously, what I said above isn’t justification to wish death on someone. Hopefully no one thinks less of me for that.

For the longest time I’ve dealt with an inferiority complex. If the name didn’t give it away it’s basically a tic in my brain that tells me I ain’t shit because there are people better than me. And the sad thing is, that’s true. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, who in the blue hell am I?? Just some kid who’s trying to be like everyone else. Trying to be the next Bob Ross or Alex Ross.

At the same time I like what I do. Art is my thing. It’s given me people who I’d never exchange for all the money in the world. I like them, I like having them around. I’m grateful that they’re a part of me. But it’s just that some days I feel like all of this is an illusion. I’ll wake up anytime and suddenly I’m back in High School, no friends to be had, wishing I was dead and people wishing death on me because, “That’s as far as I’m going to get.”, says the tic in my head.

2017 Recap

Another year come and gone. Another lap around the sun. Usually that means festivities, fireworks, “New Year, new me” bullcrap, etc. A New Year for me means time to reflect on the 365 days that went by. And while I didn’t have a perfect year, I had a productive one, and one that forced me to stop and ponder my life. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t awful either. Thought I would go over a few ups and downs here.

This year marked the first year since I left my original college and course of Foreign Affairs and focused on art school and pursuing something dear to my heart. College is a weird topic for me because I have so many conflicting emotions about it. I wish I cared more about learning back in High School and maybe I wouldn’t have blown a lot of chances. I could have been a doctor or a lawyer. But on the other hand the position I’m in keeps me motivated. I’ve done my best work when my back is against a wall and odds are against me. So all that’s left for me to do is plant my feet and soldier on.

I fell in love this past year to a girl who in the end wasn’t going to be with me in that way. She’s a great young woman. Smart, funny, and most of all puts up with my shit. We don’t hang out with each other often but it’s a good time when we do. I cherish her and still love her. But she sees me as just a good friend (plus I think she’s into girls) and while I understand, it doesn’t make the blow any less painful. I never felt admiration for someone until now. Plenty of fish in the sea? Well, I reserve judgement until I see for myself.

Probably the highlight of 2017 (and even 2016) was meeting a group of the most wonderful people I’ve ever met. People who like the same stuff I do and aren’t complete pricks about it. People I can gel with and have a good time with who motivated me to get better in my craft. In real life I keep to myself 99% of the time, so discovering a group online that have each others’ backs as this group has mine is comforting and it’s helped me deal with a lot of personal baggage.

Lastly, I stuck to most of my resolutions I started 2017 with. Made time to go to the gym diligently and keep my weight in check, stayed motivated, and just deal with my own life first before others. I know that sounds selfish but after years of doing things to impress others I felt like it was time to focus on charting my own happiness.

All in all, not a good year but not a bad one. And I’m working to make a better performance this 2018.


It’s All On You, Kids.

It’s that time of the year again.

You’ve all been training for this since Day 1. All those early mornings, those sleepy hazes where you’d stumble around just to get out of the house, the unwanted workout on the grimy parking lot floors, those Hell Days, those hours cooking in the sun to get the choreography down to a T. They all come down to this.

This is why your officers yell at you, make you work, push you to your wits’ end. This is what you’ve been shaped up for. It’s been a long journey, but it’s finally here.

We’re in a pickle, us. People make their assumptions and accusations on what we do and why we do it. There are people who don’t believe that you guys can do it. Who think you stupid to even join our little group. Who think you can’t pull off the inevitable victory.

This is your time guys, and believe me I know it’s a heavy burden. We’re all relying on you. Your staff, your officers, your alumni cadets who’ve taught you everything they know, The name of De La Salle University ROTC itself rests on your shoulders. Win or go down fighting. Aim for the stars and nothing less. I’ve had the honor of watching you guys work yourselves to the bone. And believe me when I say that win or lose this weekend it has been my honor and privilege to see how you’ve all turned out.

Don’t let ROTC die, kids. Give them all a reason to keep it going. Let them see through the fruits of your labor that the Reserve Officers Training Corps is something what it is: The Ultimate Frosh Experience.

Semper Fi, Cadets and Cadettes of 247th DLSU NROTCU. It’s all on you kids.IMG_7283 IMG_7292 IMG_7376 IMG_7384 IMG_7483 IMG_7913 058 072 141 207-001 001 051 063 093  172 196 262 001 058 065 079 098 206 223 244-001 313 449  IMG_7167 IMG_7170 IMG_7289 IMG_7316 IMG_7376 162 223 242 279 285 IMG_7357 IMG_7364118532

NSTP-ROTC: A Look Back

“Do not regret what is done.” -Miyamoto Musashi


It was kind of surreal seeing this posted around campus. I mean, it feels like it was only yesterday I got the notice that I was approved to take ROTC back in Term 2 of my first year in college. And as much as I loathed waking up at 5am every Saturday to go to school, I have to admit, ROTC grew on me.

From the first training “Hell” day, I was in the Light Duties unit due to asthma. Basically, my job was to either sit around and do menial labor for the staff, or watch the cadets and cadettes train. So I said to hell with that, and volunteered myself to bring my camera every Saturday to document the training sessions.

Fast forward to Term 3, where I truly saw the mettle of the 247th Corps be tested. In preparation for the National and Local Annual General Tactical Inspections (NAGTI & LAGTI). From sun up to sun down, I had the privilege of going around the Jose Bonifacio Naval Station Parade Grounds documenting the training. From the R&A and Model rehearsals to the Medics and SPs doing their thing, I was exposed to something I don’t think CWTS can top: The fierce bond that each member of every Unit to get their batchmate through each task at hand.

We all started out as strangers. In ROTC, we were hard-pressed to find a blockmate, let alone ANY familiar face, because most of them went to CWTS. But it really astonished me how despite this, in the end, there was a fierce bond with not just every member of each platoon, but how the whole 247th Unit just opened up to each other as a whole. We went from strangers, to friends, to family. And I am thankful that I got to witness it firsthand.

I don’t have the same experience or stories the other units have had with the other Light Duties because I mostly spent my time away taking pictures, but I just want to say thank you. Thank you to the Staff (Who may not see this.), the Officers, And every single member of the 247th DLSU NROTCU for allowing me to do what I do. I joined ROTC for one reason: To continue what I’ve been doing since CAdT back in High School, I was the Corps Photographer then and thankfully I was allowed to be Corps Photographer now. I never wanted to be the Light Duty cadet who just sat around and watched, I wanted to be one of those LD cadets to, despite the condition, made himself useful. I can’t describe how much it made documentation so much lighter whenever someone in the Corps asked for a photo, or struck a pose in the middle of rehearsal just for the sake of posterity.

I want to share something my High School commandant said during our CAdT graduation last year: “Ad Astra Per Apsera: A Rough Road Leads To The Stars. Though the road may be rough, you will never travel alone.” It doesn’t matter that we didn’t win the championship in LAGTI, what matters is we’ll never travel the rough road again.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I still have “In The Navy” stuck in my head.