By Sheilah Mae Tortal de la Cruz 

Sheilah Mae Tortal de la Cruz is the youngest daughter, Supreme Grandmaster Nene Tortal Sr. and Dominga Tortal. She is also married to Darell T. de la Cruz and mother of Travis Justin T. de la Cruz. As a former beauty queen you may not recognized her as a martial artist. In this narrative, she recalls a frightening experience that in her life that required her to use her Dekiti Tirsia Siradas skill in real life.

It was broad daylight of August 18, 2003 around 6:15pm at Ninoy Aquino Centennial Airport II. I was at the parking lot, waiting for the arrival of Bacolod-Manila Philippine Airlines Flight. On that day I’ll be fetching my male doctor – friend from my home town Talisay City.

I went out from the car to check the plane arrival, but unfortunately the board announcement it was delayed. So, I decided to go back to my Car just to stay there until its arrival.

I was driving a new 2003 silver lynx model of For its kind hot to the eyes who has interests for the mobile toys… When I was onboard, I am busy of browsing of some magazines and listening to the stereo, and from time to time checking my wrist watch and the atmosphere of the parking lot through the rear and side mirrors.

With my boredom, I decided again to get out from the car but before doing’ that I checked again the parking lot atmosphere (as I figure out that nobody was there except for the parked cars in my sides, across front and back and 50 meters away 2 Security Guards to the exit of parking lot going to the entrance of arrival area.

I switched off the engine and when I’m about to open my side door, there’s somebody knocked on that passenger door. I’m still on board but I was able to open my side door. As I saw across about 10meters away from me a male stranger pointing to my back wheels, as he caught my attention to looked back into his pointed direction.

In a flash he’s beside me (trying to sit beside me in driver seat area) and he pointed his double blade long balisong on my left rib… then he declared “a Hold-Up”.

With all his strength he is trying to push me hard, to leave the driver seat and move to the passenger area. He grabs my shoulder bag and pushing hard the knife in my left rib. I closed my eyes for a second to two and ask for God’s help that I will survive this moment…

With all the courage and confidence, in just a split of seconds I struggled inside the Car… I am trying  to disarm him with my left hand versus his right hand and he tries to grab my right shoulder and right arm with his left hand.

I am really having that hard time since there’s something he put in his arms to make it oily, so how can I managed to be on guard with all his offense…and the reality of man’s power versus the woman’s power.

Still stuck inside the car, I’ve tried to beep long my horn just to catch attention if there’s anyone there…

We we’re stuck behind the steering wheel; I managed to over-power his right arm versus my left arm. I tried hard and I have the opportunity to elbow him in his right rib.

I was very thankful then that time because earlier when I turned my back seat to rest in 45 degrees reclined position.

So, that’s the reason I have opportunity to move free my left arm though we’re in “Dekit” (closed) Position. He fall outside car, I was able to destruct his composure and I realized he felt the pain when I elbowed him as he’s holding his right rib.

I really don’t have the idea, why that time I went out from the car instead of locking guard and remain inside the car.

We have our fights in the ground, he makes his “pakal and saksak” attempt to my vital parts… and also I am very confident and quick with my defense.

Until such time, with my 3 inch heels broke I fall directly to the driver seat and my feet still outside and in the ground… I was able to grab my cell phone and called my sister Arlene and my boyfriend before (now my husband- Darell), I am telling them what‘s really happening to me but our conversation was cut when the male stranger rushes to me and uses the “saksak” (thrusts) attempt directly to my sternum (mid part of the chest), with the adrenalin rush in my system I raised my two legs and strongly kick him off to the ground… I stood up again, and punch him down… this time he lost the knife his holding.

I went back to the car and locked myself; I pulled the metal steering wheel lock just in case he would break the window. As expected he was still outside, he hits the window with his fists and shouting loud at me… though could not hear enough what he is really trying to say. That soon I realized I was bleeding, and in a while he disappears in my eyesight.

I checked the area again, I went down and look to where he disappear but in a flash 3 more men rushes to my direction. I conclude, maybe it was his companion… because they disappear again when I beep long again trying to ask for help. In a while Airport Personnel came too asked for what happened and just one Security Guard came to run after them but he could not find them, so he escorted me to their clinic.

It was just a minor cut in my left thumb with 3 stitches on it. I was been interviewed by the Airport Police and they Conduct an area surveillance for a week but unfortunately the fugitive was not captured.

My father- Supreme Grandmaster Nene called-up, and asked me with his first question “Nagbato Ka, Paano?  (Did you fight, How?”) I answered him yes… of course I am your daughter… then I replied to him “is that all are you going to ask, won’t you ask if I’m Okay?”

Then we just laugh together.  My sister- Arlene, Husband – Darell, Brother- Grandmaster Junior and his wife, came after the event… to check on me.

Looking’ back to the most unforgettable story of my life, maybe if I know nothing how to defend myself, having the background of the Martial Arts, the foundation of the Dekiti Tirsia Siradas System and The blood of the martial artists… I wouldn’t have that nerve to fight that stranger, I might have been robbed and killed in that moment, or worst I might have been taken by him and was gang raped.

Sheilah Mae Tortal, being a former beauty queen,
she wows the crowd with here martial arts skill
in the talent portion of the pageant.

Originally published in FMA Digest Special Edition – 2009