Dare not mispronounce Ana Julaton’s last name lest you be told off.
The Filipino-American, an established combat sports athlete offered her advice to aspiring Filipina fighters who look up to her, stressing they must stay true to themselves, keep going, and never let anyone get away with mispronouncing their names.
“For all the Filipinas worldwide, follow your dreams, be who you are, be proud of who you are, be proud of your color, be proud of your nose, be proud of your roots, be proud of your name. Have everyone say your name correctly,” the 35-year old said at the media workouts at KMA Fitness Gym in Makati, Philippines.
Julaton shared how she had to tell people off in the past when they kept pronouncing her last name as "Ju-ley-shun."
“Just as long as you believe – and everyone is gonna tell you that you can’t do it – but you have to be the one. Because when you’re deep down in a fight and there’s no one out there to pick you up, you’re gonna be the one that has to deal with that battle.”
The former boxing world champion turned MMA prizefighter was in Manila for her fight against Irina Mazepa at ONE FC's event "Spirit of Champions" at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Julaton, who has a 2-1 MMA career record and returns to the cage after a year of absence, has been an inspiration for Filipino women in combat sports ever since her boxing days, where “The Hurricane” become WBO Super Bantamweight World Champion and IBA Super Bantamweight World Champion.
Though she credits opportunities she’s gotten to Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao having paved the way before her, Julaton still had to break barriers on her own.
“I feel like the world develops social norms. There are certain things that women are supposed to do, things that men are supposed to do,” she explained.
“For me, growing up in the United States as a FilAm, trying to do boxing – a male-dominated sport in an arena where there wasn’t a lot of Filipinos at the time, where people were saying my name incorrectly; a lot of promoters, a lot of people they won’t look at me in the face, they won’t give me that respect because they think ‘oh you’re small, oh what are you, are you Chinese?’ so I had to let my presence be known.”
“For all the young ladies out there in the Philippines, no matter what anyone says, never let that be a limit to what you want to do,” she said further.
“Have passion, have belief, and surround yourself with the right people. People who are passionate as you are and people who will help and support you.”
News story from The Rappler.