Arnis makes golden SEA Games return, as Pinoys thrive in homegrown sport

Dennis Gasgonia, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 01 2019 03:00 PM | Updated as of Dec 01 2019 09:14 PM

Arnis makes golden SEA Games return, as Pinoys thrive in homegrown sport 1
The Philippines' Dexter Bolambao reacts after winning the men’s live stick bantamweight gold in SEA Games arnis in Angeles city, Pampanga. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

ANGELES CITY (2nd UPDATE)— Nobody’s beating the men's Pinoy arnisadors at home.

The home men’s team proved that the indigenous martial art of stick fighting is truly the country’s own, bagging 4 out of 4 gold medals in the men’s full contact live stick competition on Sunday.

Dexler Bolambao, Mark Nino Talledo, Villardo Cunamay and Mike Banares were all victorious on Day 1 at Angeles University Foundation.

Bolambao defeated Burma’s Paing Soc in the final round of the under 55 kilogram while Talledo outclassed Van Kein Vu of Vietnam for the mint in the under 60 kilogram division.
“Sobrang saya ko . . . Wala ako halos pagsidlan ng tuwa ko,” said a beaming Bolambao, who screamed with glee after hearing the judges’ verdict.

Meanwhile, Cunamay outsmarted Mengly Yong of Cambodia in the +60 kilogram as Banares outstruck Viet Phu of Thailand in the +65 kilo class.

The victory was special for Cunamay, who at 46 years old, had to engage his younger and taller foe in a tactical fight before coming out with a majority decision.
“Tiyaga lang sa training ’yan, basta may determination ka. Kahit mga bata kasabay mo hindi dapat gumive up. Kahit matanda ako gusto kong patunayan na kaya ko pa ring makipagsabayan,” he said.

The Philippine Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation (PEKAF) president, Senator Miguel Zubiri, was pleased with the performance.

“We really prepared for this, sila ang best of the best. Ginawa namin we had Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao championships, pinaglaban laban po namin yan para mapili ang mga athletes natin,” he said.
The distaff side was not as successful.

Out of the 4 Pinay arnisadors who competed in the live stick division only 1 managed to snare the gold medal.

Still, Jezebel Morcillo’s golden effort against Thi Huong Nguyen of Vietnam in the under 60 kilogram class hiked Philippine arnis gold medal haul to 5.

Jude Rodriguez settled for silver in the under 55 kilogram division, while Erl Busacay ended up with a bronze in the +60 kilogram class.

This was the first time in 14 years that the indigenous sport of arnis has been hosted in SEA Games.

The last time was in 2005 when the Philippines previously hosted the biennial games.

The Philippines is hoping to continue its dominance when the women’s full contact live stick competition gets underway Sunday night.

The full contact padded stick competition will take place on Monday where 8 more arnisadors will vie for the mint.

For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.