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Dapitan holds arnis tournament in honor of Rizal’s mastery in stickfighting

DAPITAN CITY (PIA) --  Dapitan – the city known in the nation’s history as the place where Dr. Jose Rizal was exiled by Spanish colonial authorities – hosted the first Handuraw Invitational Arnis Tournament as a tribute to the national hero’s mastery of martial arts, particularly in arnis de mano or stickfighting. 

Handuraw, a Cebuano word that means “to reminisce” is celebrated every year in the city in Rizal’s honor.

Arnis was highlighted in the recent Rizal Day celebration because he was a practitioner during his time. 

Grand Master Efren Apresto, vice-president for Mindanao of the Philippine Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation (PEKAF) said the new generation of arnisadors consider Rizal as their grand master.

“Dr. Jose Rizal as our national hero was well-versed in arnis kay according sa mga record niya,  tanan nga natad sa martial arts iya gyud gi-apilan ug usa niini ang arnis, as a Filipino Martial Art  nga iyang gi-develop (Dr. Jose Rizal, our national hero, was well-versed in Arnis according to his records. He actively engaged in various martial arts, and one of them was Arnis, which he personally developed),” Apresto added.

Approximately 102 participants from the province of Sultan Kudarat and the cities of Ozamis, Oroquieta, and Dipolog, as well as the different campuses of Jose Rizal Memorial State University (JRMSU) took part in the competition, which featured categories for ages 10-12, 13-17, and 18 and above.

The main objective of the activity is to develop young people aged 17 years old, 18 and above for upcoming games of arnis.

“We want to discover potential athletes kay daghang nakahelera nga dula national ug international (We want to discover potential athletes because there are many national and international games that are waiting),” Apresto said.

Organizers are also striving to steer children away from the prevailing trend of being excessively reliant on gadgets. Instead of being solely engrossed in electronic devices, the activity provides alternatives by encouraging them to put aside those gadgets and pick up a stick. This initiative allows them to distance themselves from the potentially harmful effects of radiation and engage in physical activities.

Tournament Director Leovemar Cris S. Hamoy emphasized that Arnis is not just a game but a coordination of the eyes, hands, and feet.

A participant from the Filipino Art of Modified Arnis Federation (FAMAF) Team Tacurong City said Arnis helps her boost her confidence and gain knowledge about martial arts.

Sheena Belmonte, also from FAMAC and a member of the Philippine Arnis Team in Taguig Manila, who won a gold medal for Mindanao in the recently concluded Philippine National Games in 2023 was happy to take part in the Handuraw competition.

“We’re happy that we were invited by Mayor Seth Frederick Jalosjos na makapag compete dito at ma-represent ang Sultan kudarat. Home of champions pa rin ang Mindanao para sa amin (We're happy that we were invited by Mayor Seth Frederick Jalosjos to be able to compete here and represent Sultan Kudarat. Mindanao is still the home of champions for us,)” Belmonte said.

Tournament Director Hamoy stated that they plan to host the competition for the second time in July next year and to elevate the event to a national level.

The participants gave me a word that if we [Dapitan city] will have a second competition, full support sila ug mas daghan ta. We are aiming to make this a National Invitational Arnis Tournament. (The participants gave me a word that if we will have a second competition, they will fully support us and we will have more participants),” Hamoy said.

He stressed that the Handuraw Invitational Arnis Tournament was just once a dream but now become a reality for Dapitan through the support of Mayor Seth Frederick Jalosjos, City Tourism Officer Apple Marie Agolong, and City Administrator Atty. Amalou Tumapon-Monroyo. 

Arnis is a Filipino Martial art that is being spread in the Zamboanga Peninsula and Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. In 2019, the “arnis” team of Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat brought home 15 gold medals in the 1st PEKAF World Invitational Competition, besting other athletes from 11 countries. (NBE/EDT/CCP/PIA9 with photos from the city government of Dapitan)

About the Author

Clennkei Peñalosa

Information Officer

Region 9

Clennkei C. Peñalosa is a member of the Subanen Indigenous Cultural Communities/Indigenous Peoples (ICCs/IPs) who earn a Bachelor’s degree in Broadcasting at the Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) and is currently pursuing her Juris Doctor degree. A content creator and writer, she writes news and feature stories in Zamboanga Peninsula and manages PIA9's social media platforms.

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