WHERE did it all started? How and who started it? Filipino martial arts have long been existing in the city of pines.
Organizations like the Sikaran, Arodans, Arnis de Mano and the coveted Sphinx Martial Arts Clan to name a few were among the forerunners of Filipino martial arts here in Baguio City and arnis is one of its iconic ambassador so to speak.
Back then, arnis is more for peace keepers like the police force and the likes and was not as popular as it is now, hiding behind the shadows of the foreign martial arts like karate, judo, taekwondo etc.
The flourishing of arnis began under the first arnis commissioner of Baguio, the late Police Colonel Manuel Meneses De Leon, head instructor of the Sphinx Martial Arts Clan of YMCA Baguio, held various tournaments for arnis in the city parks supported by then Sentro ng Agham Pilipino or SAP that later became National Institute of Information Technology or NIIT under Vladimir Cayabas who is now a city councilor.
Many other organizations were part of the city’s arnis history that paved the way for where it is now.
The late Police Colonel De Leon was also the pioneer in introducing arnis in the Department of Education (DepEd) Baguio and Benguet who produced arnis athletes up to the Palarong Pambansa where Baguio won its first few gold medals.
Most of the arnis athletes turned instructors were former students of Police Colonel De Leon or were members of His Sphinx Martial Arts Clan, who, for some, handles their own teams in the sport of arnis.
Aside from DepEd, arnis was also introduced and is being played in the Baguio Benguet Educational Athletic League (BBEAL) thanks to former Philippine Military Academy Superintendent Major General Leopoldo Maligalig who said in the executive meeting of the BBEAL “Arnis is our own Filipino martial arts so it should be included in our BBEAL.”
After it debut in Season 21, it was later included as one of the regular sports to be played in the BBEAL on its 23rd season.
Arnis has dramatically grown in popularity in the city of pines as it became one of the medal hauler sports which helped Baguio City gain their ranks in regional and national events.
Arnis is one of the sports that Filipinos could be successful in the international stage with the help of Philippine sports authorities and organizations.
Baguio caters to arnis events every year like the Baguio Day Charter National Arnis Championships, Panagbenga Arnis, Summer Vacation Arnis Encounter etc.
Arnis as a sport, could be utilized for the city’s tourism as it will usher teams along with their parents and friends from all places in the country. Mabuhay ang FMA! Mabuhay ang Arnis!