THEY are iron men. Their bodies are hardened as rocks and proportioned like the Greek champions of yore. Or perchance Michelangelo’s David. Whatever. They are muscles defined, shaped into rippling perfection by pumping tons of iron.

But on this very night in Dapitan, on the 23rd of November, they are warriors of a kind. They are now muscled descendants of the Bol-anon warriors who migrated to these parts in search of a new home, finding this historic city.

Their forebears fought to ward off seaborne marauders or assist their Spanish allies quell disquiet in neighboring settlements. These modern-day fighters battle to claim the rarefied title in this year’s Muscle Man competition.

Dapitan’s renowned bodybuilding competition started in 2013 when now Zamboanga del Norte Governor Rosalina Jalosjos, was still mayor of Dapitan City.

The idea was hatched when the city government brainstormed for novel ways to honor the city’s founding fathers. An idea came in a flash: why not honor Datu Pagbuaya, the founders’ leader, by holding a Mr. Dapitan competition to find a contemporary stand-in for him?

In time, the logic got more defined. Datu Pagbuaya was a leading warrior, so he must have had a physique that could frighten enemies at first sight or vanquish them in combat. He must have been strong and muscular. Thus, out went the cutie Mr. Dapitan and in came Muscle Man.

When Governor Jalosjos, better known as Nanay Nene, moved to the Capitol, she decided to continue the competition, with the complete backing and enthusiastic support of current Provincial Administrator, Lawyer Dug Christopher Mah. Of course, Dapitan City’s current mayor,

Seth Frederick “Bullet” Jalosjos, an avid sports enthusiast, is also on board at full tilt. This is tied up to his city’s history after all.

This year’s Muscle Man 2022 boasts of a rich crop of contenders from as far afield as Cebu up north to Davao City out east. They compete in four categories: Novice Physique, Open Physique, Ladies Bikini Fitness, and Open Elite Bodybuilding.

In the Novice Physique category, the title went to Dapitan’s own, Lester Dean Jarapan of Train Station Belandres gym. He was joined at the podium by 1st runner up Daniel Malilang of Dipolog City and 2nd runner up McDave Lugo of Roxas, Zamboanga del Norte.

In the Open Physique category, the top spot went to Jimmy Duran of Pagadian City, followed by 1st runner up Arwin Padua of Cagayan de Oro City and 2nd runner up Christopher Haganas of Novaliches, Quezon City. On the other hand, in the Ladies Bikini Fitness category, the title

went to Aljuhara Mama of Pagadian City, followed by 1st runner up Ritchelle Gales of Ilo-Ilo City and 2nd runner up Mary Ann Dioquma of Iligan City.

Finally, in the Open Elite Bodybuilding category, the title Mandirigma 2022 went to Arwin Padua of Cagayan de Oro City. He was joined up there by 1st runner up Jonas Libago of Davao City and 2nd runner up Arian Ballon of Zamboanga City.

Meanwhile, in the Open Body Building Catergory, Arwin Ballon of Zamboanga City landed as the champion and the other winners include: Jonas Libago of Davao City, 1st runner up; Arian Ballon of Cagayan de Oro City, 2nd runner up; Joseph Calapayan of Dumaguete, 3rd runner up;

and, Jun Salinas of Pagadian City, 4th runner up.

Mandirigma Muscle Man 2022 was staged by the Dapitan City Tourism Office headed by Apple Marie Agolong and supported by Pro-Whey King Supplements, Kings Gym Equipments and CAGE Gym Dapitan. (PR)