Arnis eyes 20 events in 2019 SEAG
Abac Cordero (The Philippine Star) - June 4, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — From only six events in 2005, the Filipino martial arts discipline of arnis may offer as many as 20 gold medals when the country hosts the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.

Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, president of the Philippine Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation (FECAP), is batting for the inclusion of more events in the sport where Filipinos can excel.

The Philippine Olympic Committee headed by Ricky Vargas is willing to accommodate the additional events as long as Zubiri can guarantee a good harvest of gold medals.

“I promised POC chairman (Abraham) Bambol Tolentino that we will field the best of the best, that we will try our best. As host country, we must ask for more (arnis) events,” he said.

In the 2005 Manila SEA Games, arnis made its debut as a regular sport, and offered only six gold medals, with the Philippines and Vietnam winning three each.

That was the last time arnis was played in the SEA Games.

Zubiri, a world-class arnis practitioner and an advocate of Filipino martial arts, said FECAP is on a nationwide campaign to gather the finest arnis practitioners.

“That’s our goal,” said Zubiri yesterday at the close of the two-day qualifying tournament for the National Capital Region, an event that lured more than 500 entries.?

The Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao qualifiers are over, and on July 7 and 8, all gold medalists in the four tournaments will dispute slots to the national team.

“We are gathering the best – the national champions. We want only the best of the best,” said Zubiri in the event graced by POC secretary-general Patrick Gregorio, Philippine Sports Commission commissioner Ramon Fernandez, 2019 SEA Games chef-de-mission Monsour del Rosario and squash chief Robert Bachmann.

If given the go signal, Zubiri said 20 sports will be played in the 2019 SEA Games – 16 of them in combat (eight each in live stick and padded stick) and four in anyo (form).

“We are already preparing for 2019,” said Zubiri.

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