3rd place, Ariel Sillano, the crowd was silent, the jaws on the people on my ringside dropped-disappointed. How could that happen? With my condition well tuned for the show? I am turning 40y/o and I just learned about body building quite recently. I never learned how to dribble a ball much more shoot, I drank as early as 10y/o with a history of smoking 2 packs/day (sorry Nanay). 3rd place in the sea of equally motivated, disciplined and hard working young bloods is something ‘AWESOME, AMAZING and UNREAL’. Considering my psychosocial history, I should have been 6 feet underground by now. Let us just say that I will take 3rdplace for now, learn and improve on my weaknesses and hopefully slowly creep up to the top. So why am I the winner?

          I gave myself 22 weeks this time to beat my condition from the last show, that was the idea. It was a bit too long I realized afterwards but for me, it was all worth it. Wiser this time around, I did not prepare alone.  I summoned help from all the people who I cringed asking help with because of my pride, thinking that I do not want them to feel like I only reach out to them whenever I need favors. I blame depression for that, along with all the trials and tribulations I had in my life. I struggled so hard to carry all the burden alone, I tried to fix everything by myself and avoided favors. I suffered the consequence of that, it broke me all together mentally, and it is a shackle I have to carry for the rest of my life. These people are my loved ones and friends who are just waiting for me to reach out all along.  I feel so stupid to think that way about them. With all humility, I did reach out eventually.

          The first person of course is my wife, Radha. She is aware and dealt hard with my issues along with the rest of our household (Dad, Mom, Kai and Maya) when I prepared from my last show.  I am talking long months of being stubborn, anxious, depressed and eternally weak. I told her I would need professional help if I would continue training rigorously for this span of time.  This time, I did not want them to undergo the same burden. No questions asked, she was immediately in full support and approval. Not to brag, I am very fortunate I get to do the things that I love until now because of her. In our relationship, she is the one always holding it together, the one wiping my tears over a movie drama, the one reassuring my children and myself whenever we get vaccines, the one with the battle cry: “always try to do do your best”, a strong woman, an independent woman. Being a therapist allowed me to have wider-medical reach. It brought me to a saint, Dr. Anabelle Lao-Reyes, and her very supportive family. A neurologist and psychiatrist, I told her my issues and took a lot of my burden off, not just through medication but the acceptance and understanding of my noonday demon. She took the fear of stigma for me. Believe it or not, I rarely had issues all throughout my preparation only until the peak week give or take, my family would agree to that.

        Then comes the programming. I am quite confident with my training and nutrition when I am off season, on a larger percentage, I got it dialed in thanks to my education and experience. With competitions though, I strongly believe and suggest to anyone to get an extra set of eyes or two for feedback. You only see what you wanted to see in front of the mirror and with the self-bias, most of the time you would think that it is good enough. Reinforcements came in full blast for me. In the gym that I used to be a member of, I met and automatically clicked with a personal trainer, a fellow bulakeño and an avid body builder as well, Danilo ‘Juno’. He helped me unconditionally from day one until my last foot stepped off the stage. I could go on and on as to everything he did for me but the most remarkable deed I could share was 1 day out before the show. I suffered bad diarrhea, I mean ‘EXPLOSIVE DIARRHEA’ from eating a bad batch of sweet potatoes I precooked several days out from the show that dehydrated and made me so weak, this was on top of the old-school preparation technique of ‘water depletion’ I was advised by my coaches to do so. Juno as soon as he came that morning from Davao not even settling his stuff took the liberty of shopping for supplies, food preparation, and basically running around to buy medicine and other errands for me. I would have conceded the show if it was not for him. I automatically gained another brother from this experience. Juno was just one strong pillar underneath me, I am stronger and confident this time around because I summoned two more of my great old friends from the North, William and Chris, they graciously took me under their wings ever since we met at our old gym in Manila. I could be myself around them then and now, and they’re quite sensitive and accepting with regards to my issues, I give them the same courtesy too. William sent me an expert, a Shokunin level body builder known as Romeo ‘Gohan’, a seasoned practitioner of the sport with a lot of ammos on his belt, he’s got a ton of medals, trophies etc. to prove it. He made me respect body building more than ever with his discipline, knowledge and dedication that I would keep and apply on all my future shows.

          I did this because I have an agenda. It was just recently that we as a culture became aware about the rights of the LGBT community, the right that for a long time they were denied of.  We are not quite there yet but I know we are moving progressively. Recently, the mortality from suicide due to mental issues has gone up. It doesn’t discriminate regardless of social status, race or any form of preference. We lost a lot of great minds in the last couple of years, some of them were my heroes. Depression accounts for most of these deaths. Here in the Philippines, we still fail to recognize its existence.

Anthony Bourdain – 1956-2018


Close to 800,000 people die due to suicide every year. For every suicide, there are many more people who attempt suicide every year. A prior suicide attempt is the most important risk factor for suicide in the general population. – World Health Organization (WHO) updated August 2017.

CNN Philippines – Gia B. Sison/September 11, 2017


“We don’t have a good data on suicide in the Philippines but in 2012, there were 2,550 recorded suicides,” – Herminigildo Valle, Department of Health Undersecreatry

Business Mirror – By: Henrylito D. Tacio/October 11, 2018


          The stigma of being odd, antisocial-killjoy, unfriendly, attention seeking-drama queen, unproductive or just plain lazy is how we see a depressed individual. I stood on the stage this time to recognize the term and to celebrate a personal achievement because it did not beat me this time around. I may have ranked 3rd amongst my competitors. But with depression, I am the winner, temporary I know but I will ‘TRY MY BEST’ to keep moving forward. I hoped to reach out to anyone with the same predicament as myself, that all is not lost and I know that you and the condition exist. Whatever that questionable-heavy pressure you’re feeling right now or at times regardless of the situation you are in, good or bad and out of the blue is real, and that you need to seek help, a professional help because people at this point are not aware yet. You are not alone, I believe like with any other causes, we are stronger together, so please reach out before we lose more of your beautiful dreams-aspirations and future achievements. Healthy lifestyle and junctures just like this (natural body building) is just one avenue to normalcy in a lack of better term but there’s still more out there I am sure. To everyone, please keep an open mind, a mind that is open for growth, understanding and acceptance. A mind that doesn’t discriminate and does not judge so we could once again redeem our humanity. Together, we will overcome.


“Early identification and appropriate treatment of mental disorders is an important preventive strategy,” – WHO

Business Mirror – By: Henrylito D. Tacio/October 11, 2018


“I believe that just talking about it makes the intensity of the stigma a little bit less.”

CNN Philippines – Gia B. Sison/September 11, 2017


If you are in need of mental health support, please call the 24/7

0917-899-USAP (8727) 

Natural Body Building Australia Universe  2019: https://www.facebook.com/Natural-Bodybuilding-Australia-Universe-1137433699755939/

photo courtesy of: https://www.facebook.com/muscleinfocus/





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