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Buno is a Tagalog word meaning wrestling it is an empty hand fighting system developed by the indigenous people of the Philippines Islands.
There are literally hundreds of styles of Buno practiced throughout the Philippines.However, the Harimaw Buno formerly Harimaw Lumad (King Tiger Wrestling) style was particular to the Mangyans, of Mindoro, Island and Aetas Tribes in Infanta, Quezon in Luzon Philippines.
Harimaw Buno was the Preferred name by Gat Puno Abon “Garimot” Baet the founder and Grandmaster of the Harimaw Buno Federation.
Grandmaster Falipe “Garimot” Baet is the person responsible for bringing Harimaw Buno to the Laguna provinces. He studied Buno under his father’s tutelage at the age of eight and continued his training in Calapan, Mindoro under two Mangyan Buno masters from 1946 through 1950.
The two masters were members of the Hanuno Mangyan tribe. Their style of Buno was regarded as a jewel of their culture and as such, was forbidden to outsiders.
However, Grandmaster Jose “Uti” Baet would pave the way for his generations to come five years prior. Grandmaster Jose “Uti” Baet, father of Felipe, defeated the top two practitioners of Buno, brothers Guimo and Tino Lait, during the Harimaw Buno Competition in Umiray Infanta, Quezon before the Japanese occupation of the Philippines in 1940.
The superiority of his skill was such that the two brothers were defeated without injury. In their lifetime, it would prove to be their only defeat in over 20 years of active competition. Out of respect, the two brothers agreed to train his son Felipe, in secret if necessary.
At the age of 16, Felipe was directed by his father to seek out the two Mangyan brothers. The trip to Calapan, Mindoro would be a long one so Felipe gained the company of his best friend, Ruben “Ginto” Madrinan in his search for the Hanuno Mangyan tribe.
His initial encounter with the Hanuno tribe proved to be less than encouraging. His request to study with them was rejected by the “Apo” (head tribesman) because he was an outsider.
Fortunately, the Lait brothers would come to know of his presence in the village and the identity of his father. Surreptitiously, they arranged for him to stay in the next village and train him as one of their own.
Felipe underwent intense training with the two brothers for four years. He worked as a spear-fisherman at night and practiced Lumad (the Hanuno word for Buno) during the day in the hidden valley of the Mindoro Islands.
Buno, as a matter of course, is an empty hand practice. Although the knife, spear and bow and arrow play significant roles in hunting, the only true weapon of the Buno practitioner is the lubid.
The lubid is a course twisted length of rope approximately four feet long, worn around the waist. Prior to his trip to Mindoro, Felipe was educated in the use of this unique weapon by his father. The training focused on disarming, subduing, and controlling humans.
His time in Mindoro focused on the hunting of animals. An animal was often brought down, restrained and kept barely alive using the lubid. Hunting forays often meant several days walk into the forests.
From a practical point of view, carrying a live animal back to the village was easier than carrying a dead one and the freshness of the meat was preserved. Training primarily involved tying different kinds of knots, quickly and under duress.
With his training complete, Felipe became an undefeated Buno stylist in Calapan, Mindoro. His prowess as a master stick fighter was also established as he went undefeated in stick fighting competitions in the area.
In 1950, he left Mindoro to return to his hometown in Paete, Laguna. This was, however, after overcoming a very strange occurrence during his stay with the Hanuno Tribe.
During his second year of training, it happened that a tribe woman became enamored of Felipe. In order to assure his presence, she cast a spell to prevent him from ever leaving.
As time passed, Felipe confided in his friend Ruben Ginto that his eyes seemed to percieve an impenetrable barrier surrounding the area perimiter.
Although aware of the magic at work, he could do nothing to counter it. When the time came to leave, he would require his friend’s assistance to dominate the mental apparitions. Ruben would eventually lead Felipe away with a blindfold securely fastened over his eyes under the cover of the night.
Upon his return to Paete, he encountered many challengers eager to see just how good the son of Grandmaster Uti Baet had become. He easily defended all opponents.
In a short time, he became the local champion of track and field events, Bunong Braso (arm wrestling) and Pintal Braso (finger wrestling). He would later join the Paete Arnis Club, a group of veteran stick fighters, and organize Arnis De Mano tournaments at every town fiesta.
He remained an active stick fighter, maintaining an undefeated status in Laguna, Batanggas, Cavite, Rizal, Quezon, Bataan, and Mindoro. He was known throughout the provinces as “Hari ng Pitong Kabundukan” (King of the Seven Mountains).
In 1972, he began to instruct the Baranggay Police (village police) in stick fighting and Harimaw Buno techniques. He would later incorporate Buno as a part of Arnis De Mano hand applications.
He believed that in order for Eskrima fighters to be complete, the theories and techniques of grappling, empty-hand and weapons combat must be mastered.
It should be noted, that for the most part, Felipe kept the core elements of his buno training a family secret thereby holding important elements of the system in reserve for his family’s own protection.