Wednesday, September 06, 2006


The Bakbakan Filipino Martial Arts Invitational Tournament was held right after the 3rd World Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) Festival, on Saturday, July 22, 2006, at the Philippine Columbians Association facilities at Plaza Dilao in Paco, Manila, Philippines.

My children Mitch and Paulina and myself were able to attend the tournament on Saturday. The tournament was in full swing by the time we arrived at mid-morning. Three rings were in full operation filled with fighters and officials, with a mass of raucous humanity around the rings.

Presiding over the proceedings was the Bakbakan head honcho himself, Grandmaster Rey Galang, all the way from Lodi, New Jersey, USA. Ably assisting him was Grandmaster Christopher “Topher” Ricketts, now a resident of San Diego, CA, USA. We also recognized a few faces from the Gala Night, held the previous evening.

As a further innovation to improve professionalism at arnis tournaments, GM Rey Galang has formed Professional Tournament Experts (PROTEX) for officials, referees and judges of Bakbakan tournaments. Some of the PROTEX staff members helping officiate the bouts included the following:

(1) Grandmaster Vic Sanchez from the Philippines;
(2) Grandmaster Yuli Romo of Zu-Bu and Kalis Ilustrisimo from the Philippines
(3) Guro Arnold Noche of Lameco from Los Angeles, California, USA
(4) Guro Abner Anievas, IMAFP Commissioner for Hong Kong.

We also recognized several arnis masters and their tournament fighters or participating schools, including Jon Escudero of LESKAS and his students, Master Jerry Evangelisan of Dekiti Tirsia, Zu-Bu, Bakbakan and many others.

At one point, I ended up standing next to a big group of very young men and women loudly cheering on their teammates. When I asked the name of their school, they answered “Virulent Tigers.”

I do not know about the virulent part, but they were all tigers and tigresses as soon as their arnis bouts started. I saw quite a few of them mount the podium to claim their medals.

Due to other commitments, I was not able to stay through the end of the day. But from what I saw the few hours I was there, it was another of Master Rey’s successful tournaments. The event was well-attended and efficiently run, the bouts were spirited and hard-fought, the techniques were intentioned and clean, and the spirit of the whole tourney was one of respect, camaraderie and goodwill.

GM’s Rey Galang and Topher Ricketts and their Bakbakan organization are to be commended not for just promoting Filipino Martial Arts on a global scale, but for raising the bar for standards in tournament play in arnis as well.

See you guys again when you bring your tournament to the West Coast in the United States.

A copy of this article with several pictures is included in the e-book "Philippine Odyssey 2006" now available at the online store at .

Copyright, Jay de Leon 2006


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