Athlete of the Month: Rinna Babanto

Photo by: Kiana Carlos

Growing up in Cebu City, Rinna Babanto was part of a dance group in grade school. Her Taekwondo career started when she fell in love with the sport while watching her younger brother’s training in school. And ever since, she has never stopped playing.

Babanto, who was only 14 years old in 2011, was scouted by the Philippine Taekwondo Poomsae Team’s head coach after seeing her at the National Carlo Palanca Jr. Taekwondo Championship in Manila.

Two years later, Babanto competed in the 8th WTF World Taekwondo Championship in Bali, Indonesia. She competed in the Junior Women’s team category and emerged on top, bringing home a gold medal.

In the same year, she competed in the 2013 Southeast Asian Games in Naypyidaw, Myanmar. Despite being only 16, she competed in the Senior Women’s team category alongside Philippine Taekwondo veterans, Rani Ortega and Janice Lagman-Lizardo.

Less than two months before the biggest tournament of her career, Babanto sustained a meniscus tear in her right knee. She recovered from a surgery she underwent in June of last year, and competed in the 18th Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia. Despite her an injury, she and her team garnered the bronze medal in the Senior Women’s team category.

Like any other athlete from the province, Babanto dealt with homesickness in her early years in the De La Salle University (DLSU). She learned how to cope with it through the help of the Office of Sports Development (OSD), her teammates, her coach, her friends, and her family.

From her third year of college up to now, Babanto has led the DLSU Poomsae Team as team captain.

Rinna Babanto is now a graduating student in Sports Management. She continues to train with the national team in preparation for the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. Her busy schedule consists of training, going to the gym, consulting with a mental coach, and going to class.

Due to her contributions to the Lasallian community, Babanto has been a recipient of the prestigious Gawad Lasalyano award since her first year of college.

Aside from being a full-time student-athlete, Babanto spends time with her friends and teammates outside training hours. She loves to read and travel. She also does a bit of modelling.

Overall, Rinna Babanto is someone who can balance academics and training while having fun. Be sure to watch out for her as she continues to dominate Philippine Taekwondo.

DLSU Lady Jins land 3rd place; Green Jins finish 5th place

The De La Salle University (DLSU) Lady Jins landed at 3rd place, 4-2, while the Green Jins finished 5th place at the UAAP Season 81 Taekwondo Tournament held at the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Blue Eagle Gym last November 7 to 9.

The Lady Jins started the tournament strong after conquering ADMU on the first day with a score of 5-2, but they lost after facing back-to-back champions National University (NU), 3-4. They bowed down to the University of Santo Tomas (UST) on the second day, 3-4, but they were able to beat the University of the Philippines (UP), 5-2. The Taft-based squad demolished their remaining opponents, University of the East (UE) and Far Eastern University (FEU). They scored 4-3 against UE and swept FEU, 7-0, thus securing their spot on the podium.

On the other hand, the Green Jins did not have a good start due to losing Kyle Arsenal, bantamweight player, to an ankle injury in their first match against UST, 3-4. To end the first day, they were dominated by UP, 2-5. On the second day, the team lost another player due to an injury. Despite this, they won against FEU with a score of 4-3. Mitch Agapito was replaced by rookie Dylan Reyes for the remaining matches. The Green Jins failed to defeat UE, 3-4. On the final day, they won against ADMU, 4-3, but lost against defending champions NU, 3-4.

Team captain of the Lady Jins, Lovely Avanceña, won gold for the finweight division. Rookie Akila Boloto won gold and was hailed the rookie of the year for UAAP Season 81. Shannelle Romuar and Gab Yuchingtat won bronze and silver for the welterweight and heavyweight division.

Last year’s rookie of the year, Alvaro Aranton, won gold for the heavyweight division in the Men’s Taekwondo Tournament while rookie, Gian Gutierrez, landed silver.

UAAP Taekwondo Day 2

The De La Salle University (DLSU) Green and Lady Jins went for 0-2 and 1-1, respectively, in the second day of the UAAP Season 81 Taekwondo Competition on November 7, at the Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) Blue Eagle Gym.

The Green Jins faced University of Santo Tomas (UST) in their first match, where the latter claimed the close victory, 3-4. In their second match, they also failed to redeem themselves against University of the Philippines (UP). The Diliman-based edged the Taft-based squad, 2-5.

On the other hand, their lady counterparts secured their first win of the season after beating ADMU, 5-2. However, they failed to keep their momentum up as they then lost to back-to-back champions National University (NU), with a score of 3-4.

Yesterday, the Poomsae Team of DLSU brought back the championship to Taft with 3 gold medals and 1 silver medal.

The battle continues at the ADMU Blue Eagle Gym for the Green and Lady Jins as the men’s team face Far Eastern University (FEU) and University of the East (UE) while the women’s team face UST and UP.

DLSU Poomsae Team: Back on Top

The De La Salle Poomsae Team brought back the championship title with 3 gold medals and 1 silver medal at the Ateneo Blue Eagle Gym, Tuesday.

Rinna Babanto, captain of the Poomsae team, came out on top of the semifinals for the individual female category alongside UP and FEU. In the finals, she scored 8.180 which brought her the gold medal while UP scored 8.000 and FEU scored 7.900.

Rookie Patrick Perez made his mark for the team as he won the gold medal in the individual male category with a score of 8.305. UST and NU followed with a score of 8.150 and 8.035 respectively.

For the mixed pair category, individual gold medalists Babanto and Perez also claimed first place.

Angel Gaw, Zyka Santiago, and Mikee Regala failed to enter the finals and landed in fourth place in the team female category. For the team male category, Rico Mella, McAvyngyr Alob, and Jesse Ignacio bagged the silver medal.

Babanto, who is also a graduating student, was awarded the Most Valuable Player. Perez, on the other hand, was awarded Rookie of the Year. Both were excellent in their respective categories.

This is the second championship for the De La Salle Poomsae team.


UAAP Season 81 Preview: DLSU Green and Lady Jins

The Green and Lady Jins are ready to kick their way to the top this UAAP Season 81 with their eyes on the prize after finishing 4th and 5th last season.

The De La Salle Poomsae team, on the other hand, are looking forward to reclaiming the crown after falling to the University of Santo Tomas Poomsae team last year.

Change of Strategy

There was no time to dwell over last season. With only a few days to recover, the Green and Lady jins were already back in training for UAAP season 80.

With adjustments made to their training program, the team’s preseason competitions served as its training grounds to test its change in strategy. Each player has improved and showed that having no days off has paid off.

IR Donato, team captain of the Green Jins, said “We trained hard like never before. The preparation was heavy and we just kept on pushing each other to exceed our limits. There were times when we thought of giving up, but we never did because we want to win.”

What to Expect

For this season, the Green and Lady Jins are hoping to land a podium finish. Lovely Avanceña, team captain of the women’s taekwondo team, said that there are no expectations because there are also many graduating players from the other schools. “Ang masasabi ko lang is gagawin namin ang best namin as a team para maibalik namin yung korona sa Taft.”

From the Poomsae team, graduating player Rico Mella said that with their new players Patrick Perez, Kiko Ignacio, Mikee Regala, and Zyka Santiago, first place is right within their reach.

Donato also said that we should expect a team that’s willing to do whatever it takes to win. “And most of all a fun team that enjoys every match we face.”

Catch them in action at the Ateneo Blue Eagle Gym on November 6 to 9.

DLSU Green and Lady Jins shine in 2017 Carlos Palanca Jr. Cup!


Although De La Salle University Green and Lady Jins’ season has halted for UAAP, the Taft-based squad took on schools from different areas in the Philippines at the Carlos Palanca Jr. Cup National Taekwondo Tournament, February 5 at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.

The DLSU Poomsae team racked medals in the individual, pair and team categories of the tournament. Poomsae team captain Rinna Babanto proved her position after bagging two gold medals in the individual and team categories, respectively. Meanwhile, the duo of Rico Mella and Angelica Gaw stood on the podium to take bronze at the pair category. In addition, Mella also received a bronze medal at the individual category along with McAvyngr Alob who also got the same recognition.

Team captain Babanto was nothing but proud of what the defending UAAP Poomsae champions had achieved in the said tournament. “I can say that we are very blessed and grateful for everything that was given to us. The hard work and sacrifice we allotted to win those medals [were] paid off,” expressed Babanto.

On the other hand, the Taft-based squad was able to get their presence felt in the sparring tournaments. A total of two gold medals and two bronze medals were within the Jins’ reach after the cup. Kris Uy wreaked havoc and clobbered his opponents to take the gold in the men’s heavyweight category. Meanwhile, Gabrielle Yuchingtat also claimed gold after besting her opponents in the single round eliminations of the women’s middleweight category. Although they got cut short, the efforts of Camille Bonje and Kyle Arsenal were able to get them bronze medals in the women’s lightweight and men’s bantamweight categories, respectively.

Lady Jins team captain Lovely Avanceña considered the cup a good platform for experience for the DLSU Jins as she noticed how her teammates have grown compared to the past years. “Para sa akin, mas nag-improve yung team ngayon hindi lang sa women’s pati na rin sa men’s,” shared Avanceña. She also stressed how the team had to learn to adjust to the new ruling of the Philippine Taekwondo Association. “Alam na namin kung pano gamitin [yung rules] and naging wise [kami] maglaro kasi this year maraming binago na rules and kailangan mag ingat na sa laban,” the team captain said.

Things are looking good for the DLSU Jins after the CPJ as the team captains have seen great improvements from their squads in the tournament. Although the next UAAP season for the Jins is still many months away, the Green and White team are already looking forward to it after the CPJ. “CPJ is our pre-season game so we learned from it and we need to train even harder to defend our title for this coming UAAP Season 80,” ended Babanto.

UAAP Season 79 Team Preview: Green and Lady Jins

GC taek

With a new mantra and new techniques in their repertoire, the DLSU Green Jins and Lady Jins are looking to charge for the top honors in the UAAP Taekwondo tournament.

The Olympic Coach

Coach Roberto Cruz is still at the helm and assisting him is former Philippine Taekwondo team standout Japoy Lizardo. Cruz is fresh from a coaching stint in Rio 2016 after guiding Olympian Kristie Alora to the biggest stage in sports and has brought new methods of training and tricks with him from the experience for the green and white squad to utilize this season.

“Nadagdagan ang strength and conditioning namin, at mas practical, more on technique. Kumbaga na-divide yung training namin kaya mas nakakapag-focus kami sa ibang aspects,” said the seasoned Taekwondo coach about their new style of training.

Cruz did not go into details to save their secrets, but he shared his experience in the Olympics, “Siyempre it’s the Olympics, very high ang level of competition.” He then adds, “Their techniques are updated, marami kaming pinag-aralan doon at binigay naman namin iyon sa La Salle.”

Green Jins

After finishing third behind UST and UE last UAAP Season, the Green Jins are back for vengeance as they are expecting nothing but gold this season. Team captain Pogz Jasmines is hoping for a fitting finish to his UAAP career along with Karl Delos Santos.

Helping them are rookies Keith Uy and Carlo Dionisio, the latter already a member of the Junior National Team. Coach Cruz and Jasmines expect these rookies to step up as they wouldn’t be taken out of the training pool if they didn’t believe that they could do well.

Aside from new tricks from their coaches, part of their preparation is competing in the Philippine Taekwondo League (PTL) where they are currently defending a possible five-peat after finishing first in the last four years.

When asked about what the mantra of the Men’s team for this season, Jasmines answered, “If the men’s basketball team has ‘mayhem’, we are ‘united’ because we are united in one goal, which is to bring home the bacon to Taft Avenue.”

Lady Jins

Like their male counterparts, the Lady Jins are expecting to do better than last year’s third place finish, hopefully winning the gold medals this year. Similar to Jasmines, graduating Lady Jin team captain Paola Amon would like to finish her UAAP career by winning a championship for La Salle along with other graduating players Kristina Lopez and Farah Regis. The Lady Jins will not be fielding any rookies this year but they are still confident that they can win the championship without any young blood.

As of writing time, the Lady Jins are holding a 2-1 record in the PTL with one loss from Ateneo, as part of their preparation for the UAAP Season. It is still unsure if they will get through the second round, as there is a tie between DLSU and NU.

Amon mentioned that training for both teams has now become more technical because they compare their techniques from last year and tweak those techniques to match their opponents.

The Lady Jin captain echoed the mantra of men’s team saying, “We are united, and stronger na rin, kasi sabi nga ni coach, buo pa rin ang team from last year,” Amon ended.

Truly, a more united and driven team, with loads of Olympic knowledge and techniques – will this be the perfect formula to finally get back the crown? Find out as Day 1 of UAAP Season 79 Taekwondo tournament begins tomorrow, October 22 at the Blue Eagle Gym.

DLSU Poomsae team clinches another podium finish


The De La Salle University’s Taekwondo Poomsae team, led by Coach JP Sabido, maintained a podium finish but fell short of last year’s second place finish in the overall medal standing this year, with one gold, one silver, and two bronze medals. UST reclaimed the first place spot, while UP slid to second place in the tournament which took place in Blue Eagle Gym earlier today.

Showcasing an impeccable performance of accuracy, elegance and strength, Rinna Babanto remained unbeaten in the Women’s individual division since last year, with 0.85 point advantage. While her male counterpart, Mc Avyngr Alob, with 8.22 points, nabbed the bronze medal against Dustin Mella of UP and Rodolfo Reyes Jr of UST. For the mixed pair competition, the veteran duo, Rinna Babanto partnering with Raphael Mella, garnered 8.33 total score in the final round and owned the second place in the competition. Although the Women’s team failed to exhibit domination in the competition, the male category composed of Raphael Mella, Mc Avyngyr Alob, and Alfritz Arevalo, put an assault by landing in the final round and also contributed the bronze in the men’s team competition.

Two years since Poomsae was included in the UAAP Sports events, DLSU has revealed an immense improvement and they are continuously revealing the fruits of their meticulous training to master the art of Poomsae. With the discipline and power of each member, the future remains bright for the DLSU Poomsae team.

DLSU Jins take to the mats for the second day

After taking a break from the opening day of the UAAP Taekwondo Championships, the men and women of the DLSU Jins started out strong as they entered the mats yet again. Both facing teams deemed as powerhouses in one of their two matches for the day, both the Green and Lady Jins showed their skills and passion in the second day of the UAAP Taekwondo championship.

Green Jins

Entering the mats for since their defeat at the hands of UE, the Green Jins were quick to to take the offensive against their FEU as they quickly lead 2-0. this lead, however, would not last long as a resurgent FEU nearly gave the Green Jins the scare. Despite their effort to close the lead and to take the lead 2-3, FEU still proved lacking as the DLSU would quickly snap back to win with a close 4-3.

Finishing the 2nd day of the UAAP Taekwondo Championships, the Green Jins were more than ready to face the powerhouse team of UST. Despite the losses of DLSU’s Kyle Arsenal (3-7), Fritz Arevalo (1-6), and Kyle Uy (5-6), the efforts of team captain Pogs Jazmines (8-2), John Canizares (9-4), Benjamin Sembrano (9-3), and Karl Delos Santos (8-4) proved to be more than enough to defeat the incumbent champions.

Lady Jins

Fresh from their twin victories form the opening day, the DLSU Lady Jin entered the mats with confidence against their Atenean counterpart. Their opening match, however, did not seem to go smoothly as a great number of technical glitches coupled with faulty equipments put both teams to the edge and saw both sides complaining as well as resulting in Ateneo’s head coach spewing profanities aplenty. Despite all the trouble in equipments that resulted in numerous phantom kicks particularly in the early matches of DLSU’s Cleio Bañez (defeated in golden score match) and Lovely Avaceña (5-6) as well as calls that went against Apriel Solimen (3-4), the Lady Jins would successfully pull off a dramatic comeback to win 4-3 against ADMU through the hands of Shanelle Romuar (10-3) Camille Bonje (16-2), Paola Amon (16-0) and Gabrielle Yunchingtat (3-1).

Ending the day for the Lady Jins was the match against UE who similar to the Lady Jins stands undefeated. Despite giving it their all, the Lady Jins followed the footsteps of their male counterpart during the opening day. Despite giving it their all, the Lady Jins all fell one by one with the sole exception of team captain Paola Amon who stood as the lone victor to deny UE a sweep.

Both the Green and Lady Jins are set to take to the mats for the last time for this year’s UAAP Taekwondo Championship this coming Thursday.

DLSU Jins kick starts campaign in UAAP 78


“Stay focused [at] wag susuko, lahat ng laban isipin nilang finals na, that’s how I motivate them to do their best in court,” – Coming from head coach Roberto Cruz as how he guided the team in the first day of this year’s UAAP Taekwondo tournament. Alongside with the new Assistant Coach Japoy Lizardo, they are determined and ready than ever to get the championship back. The competition took place yesterday, October 13, at the Blue Eagle Gym.

Green Jins

With a mix of fresh and veteran players, the Green Jins had trouble with first game jitters and lost to University of the East, 1-6. First in the mats was Green Jin Kyle Arsenal who outwitted Jean Buan of UE, 2-1. Even if the team got a great start, they weren’t able to maintain their confidence and lost the next matches to the UE Red Warriors.

However they made a great comeback against NU with an almost flawless record of 6-1. Green Jin Arsenal initiated the victory as he dominated Bulldog Diether Baylon, 9-1. Followed by team captain Pogs Jazmines who pushed down Alfred Avila from NU with forceful attacks, 10-7. Just like the other Bulldogs, Noel Sabillano wasn’t able to get control of the might of Green Jin Alfritz Arevalo, 3-10. Mitch Agapito of DLSU also showed the Sampaloc-based squad not to mess with the Green Jins, 10-4. At the middle of the fight, Green Jin Keith Sembrano unleashed brutal kicks and beats Erickson Silvestre of NU, 12-1. Despite the good fate inside the mats, Green Jin Kyle Uy took a wrong turn and dropped the sixth match to Dave Cea, 4-5. Nevertheless, Green Jin Karl Delos Santos managed to bounce back and grabbed the win to end the day against the Bulldogs, 9-4.

Lady Jins

For their female counterparts, it started with a nail biter match up against NU. It was an intense game but fortunately, it ended in the hands of DLSU, 4-3. Also with a combination of rookies and veterans, the Lady Jins hope for the best in this year’s tournament.

In their last game of the day, the Taft-based squad dominated the Tamaraws with a score of 6-1. Although Lady Jin Cleio Bañez took a fall at a sudden death match, it didn’t make the Lady Jins lose control over the Morayta-based squad. In fact, it made them more aggressive in the mats. Lovely Avaceña gave FEU a payback in the second match, 12-3. Veteran Apriel Solimen showed Lady Tamaraw Geena Gadit a beast mode move and won, 8-0. Lovely Balmes did not stand with Shanelle Romuar of DLSU as she attacked vigorously inside the mats, 6-1. In the next match, former ROY Camille Bonje did not even let FEU score, 7-0. In another sudden death round, team captain Paola Amon took it all and crushed her opponent at 4-3. Lady Jin Gabrielle Yunchingtat ended the game against FEU with a bang, 6-0.

The Green Jins now hold a 1-1 win-loss record while the Lady Jins swept the first day with a 2-0 win-loss record. They will continue battling with other teams on October 15, at the Blue Eagle Gym.