In celebration of the Philippine Independence Day, we want to highlight one soldier who goes beyond the call of duty to inspire other people – through sports.
For Capt. Josepheus Lopez, being a soldier is just one of the many fitting labels to describe him. Apart from the fact that he’s a product of the elite Philippine Military Academy, he boasts of being a Marathoner, Triathlete, Spartan Racer, and a Footballer – jack of all trades, even. More than his job of making sure that all of the aircraft that belongs to the fleet of the Philippine Air Force are in top shape, he also ensures the physical fitness of the soldiers in his base camp in Lipa, Batangas.
“Being in charge sa physical fitness ng mga sundalo dito, syempre kelangan makita nila na fit din ako.”
This soldier leads by example not only with his troops in the call of duty but also when it comes to keeping himself fit. He even won the Athletic Excellence Award during his stint at the Air Force Officer School where he did not only level his soldier rank up a notch, but also in being an athlete who adores self challenges.
He finished 28th overall in the recently concluded Run Rio Trilogy, doing the Half-Marathon category – a fair finish for someone who has been sidelined from running for a little while. Other than that, he loves to challenge himself in terms of the races that he joins – just like when he did the Spartan Races in September 2017 and February 2018.
“Nung nakita ko sa Facebook yung Spartan Race, sabi ko gusto kong i-try. Nag open category lang ako just to know kung ano ba yung mga obstacles. Ang dami kong hindi nagawa kaya sabi ko next time I’ll really prepare for it.”
And sure he did. By the next time he took on the Spartan Challenge, he find it easier since the obstacles kind of emulates a little of what he had experienced as a soldier.
“Similarity nila [Spartan and Miltary] is you have to be disciplined talaga sa workout or exercises.”
“Football kasi is more of my part-time sport. Nakakalaro lang ako kapag may mga competition sa Air Force.”
Other than doing all of these sports to motivate and inspire his comrades in the Air Force, Capt. Lopez also makes sure that he gives time for cross training. He does circuit training wherein the drills make him all the more prepared and strong for his upcoming Spartan Races later this year. In fact, he was able to convince a lot of his fellow soldiers to at least enroll in the gym to do circuit with him to keep themselves fit and healthy. When asked if there is still something that he has yet to accomplish as an athlete, he said that he wanted to fulfill his ultimate goal:
“Ultimate goal ko is mag compete for Ironman.”
He aims to compete at the said event next year and opts to work extra hard to be in good form in time for the annual triathlon meet.
Most soldier stories that we hear or read are about their sacrifices and their utmost love to serve and protect the country. Capt. Lopez’s hard work, in spite not being in the battlefield, still brings motivation to soldiers and civilians alike who set their goals in being at their best in their chosen sport.
“It’s just a matter of time management. Hindi totoo na wala kaming ginagawa sa PAF, everyone in the AFP has their own parts in protecting the country be it in the conflicted areas or in the base, lahat may kanya kanyang responsibility. Choosing to be physically fit and active through sports alongside my duty as a soldier is a matter of commitment and dedication. Kelangan may commitment ka talaga kagaya ng vow mo to serve the country.”
Capt. Lopez is just one of the few names in the AFP that does something noble for the welfare, not only of his country but also for his fellow soldiers. For that and for all the effort that the armed forces has done for the Philippines, we salute you!