Mixed martial arts fighter Mark Munoz only went to the Philippines for the first time two years ago, but when Typhoon Haiyan struck the islands last month, it hit home for the 35-year-old Vallejo native.
He felt for the victims strongly enough that he will host a fundraiser on Treasure Island on Jan. 11 to raise money for disaster recovery in the Philippines.
Most of his family lives in Manila, which was not hit hard by the storm, but that didn’t stop Munoz from wanting to help the affected areas recover from what has been called by some the worst storm in history.“It’s where it all started for my parents,” he said of the Philippines. “I’m proud of my heritage and I’m proud of where I came from and I’m proud to represent them. To be able to help in this time of need is what I want to do.”
The event will feature two training seminars — one in MMA and one in wrestling — with a meet-and-greet with the UFC’s No. 7-ranked middleweight fighter in between. There will also be an after-party later in the evening.
Both of Munoz’s parents moved to San Francisco when they were teenagers, and he was born while they were stationed in Japan with the Navy. Going back to the home of his parents was quite an experience for him.
“When I [went], I had over 100 family members that came out and celebrated with me,” he said. “It was amazing to see them all there and go to the Philippines.”
He said many of his family members there follow his career and send him messages often. Now he wants to take advantage of the holiday season as an opportunity to give back to the country that has supported him.
He said he feels a responsibility to use his talents and gifts to do some good, and holding a training session was the best way for him to do so.
“This is a recovery time for the Philippines because of the typhoon,” he said. “It’s an ongoing process. This is a perfect time during the holidays to be able to give, so I want to be able to give to survivors. And anybody that wants to, to have that available as well.”
The event runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., rain or shine. Tickets are available on Munoz’s website, MarkMunozMMA.com, or at the event.
The price is $80 to participate in the MMA seminar and $40 to participate in the wrestling seminar. Admission is free to those who just want to watch and come to the meet and greet.