MANILA, Philippines – For the second time around, arnis will be open to elementary school athletes in the upcoming Palarong Pambansa, to be held in Linggayen, Pangasinan.
Arnis, the country’s national martial arts and sport, was opened to elementary girls and boys only during last year’s Palaro, through the efforts of the Department of Education Arnis Association of the Philippines (DEAAP).
First seen in the Palaro as a demo sport in 2006, arnis was officially inducted as a regular competitive event for secondary boys division the following year.
Meanwhile, female high school arnis athletes started participating in 2009.
Since then, it had integrated in the overall medal tallies of each region.
Hadji Tejada, DEAAP member and current Assistant Tournament Manager for the arnis competition, admitted that the inclusion of the sport in the Palaro had been — albeit long and difficult — a worthwhile journey.
According to Tejada, members of the DEAAP are happy and thankful for what they consider a big accomplishment. He further stated that hopefully with this development, more Filipinos would learn to appreciate our national sport more.
Currently, representatives for the Palaro are undergoing training with their respective region teams.
Reynaldo Postrado, member of National Arnis Association of the Philippines (NARAPHIL) and co-trainer of the Sta. Elena High School arnis team in Marikina, explained how an arnis player trains for a big event such as the Palarong Pambansa.
Aside from the usual conditioning exercises, Postrado said that another important training that arnis athletes need to undergo through is the repetitive striking of a rubber tire.
According to him, this exercise will help arnis athletes develop the force of their strikes and practice their grips allowing them less probability of dropping their batons.
Postrado further stated that this exercise is comparable to that of the punching bag in boxing, in terms of its importance.
But Postrado also pointed that each region has their own ways of preparing their athletes. In a way, each region could have their own unique kind of training, he said.
Postrado also said that training for a big competition such as Palarong Pambansa is exhausting.
As of the moment, the arnis team of the National Capital Region (NCR) for the Palarong Pambansa trains 3 times a week in Pasay City.
16-year-old Liezl Rivera Molit and 12-year-old Michael Duque are part of this team.
Members of the Marikina arnis team, both Molit and Duque fully recognize the large responsibility that comes with representing NCR in the Palaro.
Although both athletes started the sport differently, they both agree that all their efforts have so far been worth it in the end — and more so if they bring home that coveted gold medal in the games.
Coming from a family of long-time arnis enthusiasts, Molit had already been exposed to the sport throughout her childhood. Even then, she knew that she would play the sport when she grew up, Molit said.
She conditions herself to focus on trainings and work to leave all distractions outside the training venue. Although it is sometimes hard, she uderstands that these trainings would help her be a better athlete and achiever her dream of a taking home a gold medal from Palaro.
Michael Duque, on other hand, was exposed to the sport only over the last year. Through the invitation of his teacher, Duque tried out for the team and now, is one of the representatives of NCR.
A first-timer in Palaro, Duque said that he had already learned the value of the sport. He also said that he would continue with playing the sport throughout his schooling.
Duque advises those who want to try arnis to fully commit to the sport.
He said that although others may see arnis as an easy sport, the training that accompanies it is tough and rigorous.
Challenge to all
In a country where the biggest sports are boxing, basketball, and increasingly football, few pay attention to a sport such as arnis.
The need to continuously tweak the interest towards the sport remains a problem.
Postrado pointed out that Arnis is slowly catching the eye not only of the Filipinos, but also the international community in general even surpassing the abilities of the Filipinos when it comes to the sport.
The challenge to all is, Postrado said, to address the need for Filipinos to own the sport and excel in it.
Truly, the inclusion of arnis as competitive sport in the Palarong Pambansa could be considered as a step towards that goal. – Rappler.com
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