MANILA, Philippines – Excitement is underway for the Philippine Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation (PEKAF) as the country’s national sport looks forward to proving itself with a promise of 20 gold medals in the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.
“In arnis, we can provide as much as 20 gold medals because we have opened up more categories in our rules andif that’s the case, we can contribute heavily to the national standing in the whole hosting of the 2019 Philippines SEA Games,” said Senator Miguel Zubiri, who also serves as PEKAF president.
The PEKAF has been pushing for arnis to be a permanent fixture in the SEA Games’ list of sports. Arnis was last played in the 2005 Manila SEA Games, but only as a demonstration sport.
The organization is working closely with Vietnam – which placed 2nd to the Philippines in the 2005 arnis tournament – as the country will host the 2021 SEA Games.
“Our ultimate goal together with our board is magkaroon ng permanent games ang arnis sa lahat ng SEA Games and we’re already working that out by having constant communication with the Vietnam Olympic Committee, sila po yung (host ng) 2021 SEA Games,” said Zubiri.
(Our ultimate goal together with our board is to have arnis as a permanent game in all the SEA Games, and we’re already working that out by having constant communication with the Vietnam Olympic Committe who is the 2021 SEA Games host.)
“Sa lahat po ng Southeast Asian countries, ang Vietnam ang pinaka-active sa arnis and kali eskrima competitions.”
(In all the Southeast Asian countries, Vietnam is the most active in arnis and kali eskrima competitions.)
However, the challenge is getting the other countries to constantly join the sport starting with the 2019 SEA Games.
“You need about 4 countries to be able to have a sport in the host nation. Tatlo na lang yung sa 2005 na naglalaro, kulang tayo ng isa kaya nagpadala tayo ng team sa Timor Leste para sumali sila. (There were only 3 teams in 2005 that were playing, we were lacking one so we sent a team to Timor Leste so that they can join.),” explained Zubiri.
The PEKAF is also planning to host an Asian Cup in 2019 to accommodate countries from East Asia and the Middle East.
“Korea has been asking kung pwede sila yung maghost sa first Asian game, but no, that honor has to come from us. Philippines has to host the first, maybe you can host the second one,” said PEKAF executive vice president Gerald Cañete.
PEKAF is hosting the inaugural national Battle of Champions on July 7 to 8 to help determine the new and fresh talents who can be included in the SEA Games pool. The tournament showcases the best from the qualifiers of each island group in the Philippines and the NCR.
“Now it’s the culmination of all those tournaments. It’s the battle of champions to determine the seeding for the Philippine team that will hopefully participate sa SEA Games,” said Zubiri. – Rappler.com