It was one of those what we could call as surreal moments in my life. From the time I was informed that the UFC Middleweight Champion Mark Munoz, (better known by fans as The Filipino Wrecking Machine) happens to be my Mom’s first cousin. Mom’s late mother being the eldest sister of Mark’s Dad, and that only meant one thing, that we’re distant relatives! Whew!
|Mark Munoz with his cousine Rica Munoz Quijano Madrid and grandson Kyle.|
Since we were informed that Mark will only be staying for a maximum of four days in the Philippines (his first visit actually), we were glad that Mark was able to squeeze in a couple of hours to meet the rest of his father’s side clan (that includes us) held at the Blackbeard Seafood Island Grill at San Miguel By The Bay, SM Mall of Asia last February 21, 2012. Fans, mall-goers, fellow diners and even the staff of Blackbeard’s Seafood Island also had the rare chance to take pictures with him.
To be completely honest, I used to work in one of the country’s television network and I’ve never been star struck by anyone even if I’d get the chance to be up close and personal with celebrities. So I didn’t know what it is about Mark that made me turn taciturn to the point of almost being speechless during our first meeting. Could it be that because we’re relatives? Or is it because I’d have to speak English? (Oh, but I can manage to converse and speak good English) I guess it’s more because of the fact that Mark’s very approachable and down-to-earth. Yes, despite his fame and gained popularity (if you haven’t heard of him, go search him in Wikipedia or Google), plus he’s very warm in person. The very first time we were introduced to each other, he immediately asks for a hug.
|The author with her Uncle Mark.|
|Mark with Kyle|
|Mark with cousin Rica.|
|Mark happily chatting with my family.|
34-year-old Mark Kenery Munoz is a son of a retired Navy serviceman and his mom who hails from Sta. Ana, Manila. They used to own a Filipino restaurant in Vallejo, California where former Filipino movie star (a famous actress in the 70’s) Rosemarie Sonora (actress Sheryl Cruz’ mother) used to work as a waitress. Mark is now happily married with two kids.
|Mark hugs my Aunt Reyda (the eldest daughter of his Dad's eldest sister Lita)|
|An autograph hooded jacket for Russiana.|
|Specially made Team Munoz cake for Mark's post birthday celebration.|
Here's a video of how Mark Munoz was touched by the wonderful gestures of his family in the said reunion:
“The Filipino culture…these are my roots man. I grew up Filipino and around Filipinos. I just love my culture man,” says Mark. “I was truly happy to finally come home to my roots and meet my Dad’s family. I am looking forward to more visits in the Philippines soon.”
“Each time I go up the ring, I wanted to make my family proud, and ultimately make every Filipino proud of me,” says Mark.
|Mark was overwhelmed with the warm reception of everyone,|
To you Uncle Mark or Kuya (older brother because you’re too young to be called Tito or Uncle), we’re so proud of you. Thank you for giving us the chance to get to know you more. We look forward to your next visit soon. We’re here to support you all the way. Good luck in all your future fights. God bless!Follow the life of Mark Munoz at his own website http://www.markmunozmma.com where you could also buy collectible shirts and other items from the Team Munoz online store.