Amid the influx of foreign martial arts in the local combat sports scene, one man has taken a stand to uphold the country’s endemic martial art.
Manny Dacanay, an architect by profession, has erected a building situated at the outskirts of Metro Manila dedicated to the preservation of Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) -especially arnis.
The aim of the project is in line with the objectives of Republic Act 9850 or the Arnis Law that declares arnis as the Philippines’ national sport and martial art.
The FMA Center, which is located in Pasig City, is one of the first places where local martial arts enthusiasts can share and develop the sport, according to Dacanay.
“Eto yung pinaka-unang Filipino Martial Arts center na dedicated talaga sa mga sport gaya ng Arnis kasi yung mga instructor natin, di maka-afford ng sarili nilang lugar,” he told The Manila Times in an interview.
“Ang main goal ng FMA center is para magkaroon ng isang venue kung saan pwede sila magkita-kita,” Dacanay added.
Besides the center, Dacanay, on the other hand, also hopes to someday build a museum for the sport.
“As an architect, gusto ko gumawa ng isang Filipino Martial Arts museum. Ngayon pa lang, sinasabi ko na na ililibre ko na yung services ko para magawa ‘yun,” he said.
He expressed that he is just looking for support from the public or private sector to help him make his vision a reality.
An Arnis master or “guro” himself, Dacanay has gone the extra mile to do his part in the propagation of the sport even with its unpopularity among Filipino youth.
He explained that his interest with our domestic combat sports has started with arnis and reiterated that as a Filipino he felt compelled to make it his mission to spread the teachings of FMA.
“I love being a Filipino and everything about being Filipino. So when I learned about arnis, I told myself: why not learn arnis?”
Dacanay mentioned that with Republic Act 9850 in place since 2009, the government has implemented programs to continue the promulgation of the sport among the youth.
Besides the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Philippine Sports Commission, another government agency that must be actively involved in the implementation of the Arnis Law is the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.
“May program ang Department of Education para sa mga bata na tinuturuan sila ng basic arnis. I think DepEd is doing their best to help na hindi mamatay ang sport.”
Meanwhile, Dacanay believes that arnis and other FMAs should be appreciated by the public especially the younger Filipinos.
He stated that it would be a big loss if Filipinos did not learn to give ample attention to a sport that is proudly local.
“Sorry na lang sila kapag ‘di nila napag-aralan ang Filipino Martial Arts kasi hindi nila nakikita yung beauty ng art and culture natin. Kawalan nila ‘yun.”
Consequently, Guro Dacanay, who regularly holds arnis training sessions at the center, admitted that despite the passage of a legislation specifically for the sport, he thinks that their community just receives minimal support.
“I think the sports commission is in the process of organizing a federation that will house arnis kaya nga lang mabagal.”
“Kaming mga guro, naghihintay lang kami ng action from the government para pagsamasamahin kami.”
Even without a substantial support coming from the government, Dacanay claimed that they hold tournaments and seminars to promote the sport.
“Nagkakaroon kami ng pocket tournaments and seminars pero watak-watak. Kung magkakaroon ng national conference for Filipino Martial Arts, ‘di ba ang ganda noon?”
Lastly, he clarified that he hopes that a someday a social arm of a big company takes interest with his cause.
“Nakakapag-hold naman kami ng small tournaments pero kung may support sana ng big corporations, mas mapapaganda yung venue and the other factors,” he ended.