ONE of the stalwarts of Baguio-based Team Lakay, bantamweight fighter Harold Banario makes sure he honors his team and what it stands for every time he competes.

Recently, however, he was given the opportunity to pay homage to, and celebrate, their team by way of a work of art.

Mr. Banario, who parlays his wares at Brave Combat Federation (CF) and a visual artist, was tasked to make a mural of Team Lakay at the iconic Baguio Athletic Bowl.

Titled Heroes, the mural features members of Team Lakay, which put Baguio in the international combat sports map with its numerous title conquests.

The portrait is about nine feet in height and about 24 feet wide, with Team Lakay coach Mark Sangiao on top and seven of his prized students who have captured intricately crafted belts in mixed martial arts below him.

“I can say it’s an obvious choice since they’re my teammates and coaches, but perhaps they trust me and believe in my talent. I’m very delighted since this is my first time doing a mural this big. It’s an amazing feeling being chosen to do this monumental painting,” said Mr. Banario, younger brother of former featherweight world titleholder Honorio Banario.

“They’re family to me. It’s almost a decade since I joined them and they helped me a lot in many ways, morally and ideologically. They mean so much to me,” he added.

Mr. Banario has been doing art for a long time now, having participated in several local art exhibits.

“All of my paintings are allegorical paintings or symbolism, and it’s more on human figures and drama,” he said in describing his art works.

The official unveiling of Heroes was supposed to take place during Baguio’s “Ibagiw” 2020 Creative City Festival in November, but its completion experienced some delays due to travel restrictions imposed within the town in relation to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr. Banario hopes that he can apply his finishing touches before the year ends.

“I’ve been delayed countless times. I completely understand the situation. Our authorities know better. I just wish I can finish it before Christmas or New Year,” he said.

Seeing how Mr. Banario has put in much effort and time to the creation of the mural, his teammates are appreciative of him.

“It’s not yet done, but you can already see that he has made a great deal of effort on this artwork. It’s beautiful,” said Stephen Loman, the Brave CF bantamweight champion and one of the fighters featured on the mural.

As an MMA fighter, Mr. Banario holds a record of 5-2. He last fought in Brave in December, losing to Russian Gamzat Magomedov by technical knockout in the first round. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo