Team Philippines led by Negrense Ines Lovina Santiago beat athletes from Japan and Australia to win the Ironman Asia Pacific Virtual Race Team Challenge Friday morning.
The Philippine Team won $5,000, which they are donating to the Negrense Volunteers for Change (NVC) Foundation, said Santiago, who grew up in Pulupandan, Negros Occidental.
“Our team raced for the benefit of the NVC Foundation’s Mingo Feeding Program. This initiative has continued to feed and monitor malnourished children in impoverished parts of the Philippines while at the same time providing livelihood to local farmers”, she said.
The $5,000 will provide 40,000 Mingo meals, a nutritious instant complementary food made of rice, mongo (mung beans), and malunggay (moringa), to malnurished children, she said.
“Joining the Ironman Virtual Race Team Challenge was such an amazing experience. Having to race different distances for three straight weeks was hard but all for a higher cause. I have always believed in NVC’s vision. I appreciate how sustainable their programs and initiatives are,“ Santiago said.
There are so many children in the Philippines with no access to food and proper nutrition and this is a basic human right, she said.
“Addressing malnutrition in the developmental years is important so that children in these impoverished communities are given a better chance at having a healthy and happy life,” she said.
She said her teammates are all amazing athletes and very well-respected individuals in the multisport community.
“When they heard that the race was for a good cause, they immediately expressed their willingness and support,” she added.
Santiago said it was the first virtual race she joined that is very much different from any other race.
“This was a three-week challenge and I had to race three distances. Apart from the athletic component of the race, we were also tasked to complete in-race challenges and social media video challenges every week,” Santiago said.
The members of the Philippine team were Ian Banzon, Don Velasco, Chloe Jane Ong, Ronald Molit, Ani De Leon Brown and Jael Wenceslao.
Santiago said aside from the $5,000 that they won for NVC, they are also collecting donations for the foundation through the Ironman Foundation site.
“With a quarter of a dollar ($0.25) you can help feed a child and bring us one step closer to alleviating poverty and malnutrition in our country, “ Santiago said in the appeal for more donations at https://ironmanfoundation.donordrive.com/participant/Ines.
Santiago is a mother of two and owns a garment manufacturing and retail company that specializes in hand-smocking and hand embroidery.
She is a multiple podium finisher at IRONMAN 70.3 races in Asia.*