Proud of his heritage
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson () - February 29, 2008 - 12:00am

World Wrestling Entertainment superstar Batista has a book out in the market–“Batista Unleashed”–and it’s about his life. He wrote the 305-page, hardcover edition that I bought at Fully Booked in the Fort recently.

For those who don’t believe that Batista is half-Filipino, the book is convincing proof of his heritage. His real name is David Michael Bautista. His Filipino father David, Sr. worked as a hairdresser in Washington, D. C., and separate from his Greek mother when he was eight years old.

To honor his ancestry, Batista has a colored tattoo on his left triceps of the Filipino and Greek flags merged into one. His wife Angie, from whom he is now separated, is a Filipina. 

“My father was born in Washington, D. C. but his family was from the Philippines,” wrote Batista, 39. “As a wrestler, I’ve always felt a strong bond with the fans in the Philippines because of that family connection. His father, my granddad, was in the army; he didn’t talk much about what he did but I know he was in World War II and was wounded or hurt in some way. 

“Every once in a while, the other kids would tease me about being Filipino. They’d call me a Flip. We could spend quite a bit of time teasing one another.”

One of his best friend Richard Salas is a Filipino. 

Batista recounted his visit to Manila two years ago.

“I went to the Philippines,” he wrote. “I’d heard from some Filipino people that I was very popular there. I am half-Filipino and I’m proud of my heritage. I have a Filipino flag tattooed on my left shoulder. But had absolutely no idea how popular I was there because of my background. When I got there, I was mobbed. Everywhere I went, thousands and thousands of people showed up for my appearances.

“It was unlike anything else I had experienced in the world. They stuck me on the roof of this car and paraded me around the streets of Manila. People by the thousands showed up, cheering and waving, just because I have Filipino blood. It was a proud moment for me.

“And for them. Because I represent hope, good triumphing over evil, a guy overcoming bad stuff in his pasts to do the right thing and be successful at it. That’s what people want. That’s what heroes are about–showing us the way we can overcome all the bad things that happen to us.”

Batista said for someone who didn’t even finish high school, he’s come a long way. Life was harsh during his early years. When his father left, his mother took care of him and a younger sister Donna Raye but there was hardly any food on the table. Once, they had only a pot of burned beats to eat for a week. Batista, by the way, has a half-brother Michael from his father’s second marriage.

When Batista was 13, he was arrested for stealing cars. Then, working as a nightclub bouncer, he was jailed for nearly decapitating two roughhousers despite claiming to fight in self-defense.

“People look at the financial success but that’s probably the smallest part of it,” he continued. “It does let me do one thing I really, really love: I always wanted to spoil people. Now I can. So how did I get here?

“There were tons of components but it started with people believing in me. And I believed in myself. There were times when I was down, a lot of times, but I dug in. Some of it was out of fear that if I didn’t make it, I didn’t know what else I would do. But it was more than that. A lot of people were depending on me. I had to do it.

“In my heart, I’ll always be that poor kid from D. C. At least I hope I will. Because I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that–I wouldn’t want to be anyone else.”

Batista has two daughters, Keilani, 17, and Athena, 15, from his first marriage to a lady named Glenda. The marriage ended after six years. Keilani now has two children, Jacob and Aiden, so Batista is a grandfather.

BATISTA BECAUSE I FILIPINO PEOPLE PLACE
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