Members of the national arnis team from the Cordillera are elated that arnis is included in the 32nd edition of the Southeast Asian Games in Phnom Penh, Cambodia from May 6 to 16, 2023.
It is the first time arnis will be part of the medal games of SEAG outside of the Philippines, as it was only held as a demonstration sport overseas in the past.
2019 SEAG gold medalist Crisamuel Delfin expressed enthusiasm over the recent announcement of Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, who heads the Philippine Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation (Pekaf), that arnis will be part of the lineup of games in the 2023 SEAG.
“This will be another history,” Delfin said over the news and wished luck to those who will be chosen to represent the country.
In a statement, Zubiri said Pekaf has long been promoting arnis on the international stage, and working for it to be included as a regular sport in the SEAG.
“And with the spectacular arnis tournament in the 30th SEA Games, I think our Southeast Asian neighbors had a great chance to gain deeper respect for and appreciation of the sport. And now, we are finally getting to showcase and celebrate this great sport outside our own country,” Zubiri said.
Arnis was a major contributor to the country’s overall success in the 2019 SEAG, which the Philippines hosted.
The country took 14 gold, four silver, and two bronze medals at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center in Angeles City, Pampanga.
Delfin and University of Baguio students Abegail Abad and Elmer Manlapas accounted for three gold medals, while Billy Joel Valenzuela of Saint Louis University and Eza Rai Yalong, also of UB, added a silver and bronze medal each.
Vietnam finished a distant second with 4-10-8, Myanmar in third with 1-4-16 medals.
Arnis had only been competitively played in the 2005 and 2019 SEA Games, both hosted by the Philippines.
There will be 12 arnis events – six for men and six for women in the 32nd SEAG. – Ofelia C. Empian