From Pia Wurtzbach and Monique Lhuillier to 4th Impact, Filipinos have raised the national flag high and proud wherever they are in the world. Filipinos abroad are known for their talent and hard work, and many serve as living proof that anything can be attained through sheer determination. Such is the inspiration brought by Xenos and Claire Soto two of many other Filipinos who’ve raised homegrown values in a foreign land to achieve success not just for themselves,but also for others.
The husband and wife moved to Singapore in 2008 during the global recession. During these trying times, challenges came to their lives as soon as they moved. Equipped with high hopes and dreams, the couple went ahead and did what they felt was necessary to make things work.
“There were lots of soul-searching and tears. You learn to swallow your pride, knowing that you do not know everything, and that being away from home you start from nothing,” Claire said. “It just takes a lot of work and time getting used to the different culture, and finding the best way to move your head around it to survive.”
Life soon got better for the couple. Both managed to get good jobs in their respective professions; Xenos as an engineer and Claire as an architect. Stress from work would always come their way, but they learned to cope by staying active. Claire was into running, cardio workouts, and yoga, while Xenos was into ball games, marathons, and martial arts. It was their enthusiasm for fitness that led them to the Spartan Race. Seeing it on TV, Xenos thought the race looked fun, so he signed up hoping to conquer the obstacles himself.
Being physically active made it easy for Xenos to prepare for the race. Throughout his training, Claire joined him not only inside the gym, but also in following a healthy diet. Eventually, the workouts motivated Claire to sign up for a Spartan Race three weeks prior the event. “My wife and I were both hyped and excited after the November 2015 Sprint that we decided to register again for the Spartan Super,” Xenos said.
During Spartan Race training sessions, Xenos and Claire formed a group with like-minded Filipinos who shared the same interests in fitness. The group gradually grew to over 30 members, now calling itself Team Bato. Meaning ‘rock’ in Filipino, “bato” stood as a metaphor for toughness and endurance a good representation of the Filipino spirit as well as the team’s enthusiasm for pushing past their limits.
It was by training with the team that the couple discovered a new role in keeping the fervor alive among the members: “When we got into the Spartan lifestyle, we had something better to look forward to every Sunday, the Spartan community workout day,” Claire said.
Xenos too began to take his passion to new heights as he worked towards becoming the first Filipino certified Spartan Race trainer. Together with his wife, he would push himself further to inspire his teammates, reminding Team Bato that hard work always pays off, and humility will take them farther.
“During training, I see people around me disappointed when they were unable to do particular obstacles. I learned to become a teacher, a motivator, and became more patient in helping people,” Xenos said. “I share all the techniques I know, and ask them to take their time and not rush. In time, it’s a bigger fulfillment for me when they can already do the obstacles.”
Similar to the couple’s Spartan Race journey, the American competition series Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge showcases an obstacle course that would prove difficult even for the most determined and disciplined athlete. Known as the hardest obstacle course challenge on the planet, the race faces off teams composed of two men, two women, and an elite Spartan athlete in a one-mile run designed to test everything they are made of.
The Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge airs every Saturday on RTL CBS Extreme, 9:35PM.