Arnis is now the official sport of the Philippines.

Before the weekend, President Gloria Arroyo signed into law Senate Bill 1424, authored by Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri. Zubiri announced this at the National Arnis Congress held at Rizal Technological University from Thursday to Saturday.

The lawmaker was teary-eyed when he recounted how the late grandmaster, Roland Dantes, constantly pushed for the sport to become a symbol of this country.

“My uncle fought so long for that bill, we are so happy that it is finally a reality,” said a nephew of Dantes, Chris, who received an award on behalf of his departed uncle. “This is great.”

When the law takes effect, its impact will include the propagation of the sport in all schools, which will also be mandated by law. As of now, many other sports are already required in many schools as part of physical education, way ahead of even our national indigenous sport.

“This is what we’ve been waiting for,” said Rey Dominguez of the Philippine Council of Kali Escrima Arnis Masters (PCKEAM) at their national kali sports championship opening at Ynares Plaza in Binangonan, Rizal yesterday, “Grandmaster Roland’s long-time dream is now a reality. We can take it from here and reunite the sport.”

Zubiri is also pushing for the establishment of a genuine Filipino martial arts sports association, like world governing bodies of other sports. The loophole is that there are none, because the sport emanates from here.

“I’ve been saying for so long that everyone is fed up with the current leadership in arnis,” Zubiri told this writer. “What we need is change that people will feel. After all this time, we’re not even in the SEA Games yet.”

Over the weekend, Sen. Alan Cayetano and Rep. Lani Cayetano sponsored arnistraining for hundreds of barangay tanods in Pateros and Taguig, under the supervision of PCKEAM.

The training including basics of single-stick self-defense, and unarmed combat. The barangay officials learned how to subdue their more unruly constituents and protect themselves with the only they are issued: a baton.

In February, the PCKEAM is planning an international tournament to bring together the masters from all over the world and finally arrive at a consensus on how to move the sport forward.

Since there has been no election in Arnis Philippines since 1986, many of them have gone their own way to propagate the sport, resulting in a multiplicity of styles.

“There are many common grounds in the sport,” Dominguez continued. “We can work from there. What is important is that we are accepting everyone.”

As an aside, The STAR has heard from different sources that officials of Arnis Philippines are spreading the rumor that this writer has issued an apology to the leadership of the association regarding past columns critical of their management of the sport, or lack thereof.

Truth be told, this writer stands by everything written about arnis here, and the facts presented. If I were ever to apologize to anyone in any sport, I would do it here.

Also, an official of Arnis Philippines even writes against this columnist along with our bloggers on Philippine News for the Filipino Global Community under an alias. If they need an assumed name to be able to speak out, then they aren’t worth my time, or yours.

Source :