Cacoy Cañete, Cebuano eskrima legend, passes away
Gabby Malagar, Emmanuel Villaruel (The Freeman) - February 6, 2016 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - The Cebu sports fraternity has lost a legend, a true warrior, and the man who is instrumental in popularizing eskrima or arnis, an ingenious Filipino martial art, all over the world.

Supreme Grandmaster Ciriaco "Cacoy" Cañete, one of the eight Cañete brothers who founded the world-renowned Doce Pares Club in 1932, passed away in his hospital bed last Friday night. He was 96.

Before his death, Cacoy was admitted to the hospital twice since January 9 when Doce Pares celebrated its 84th founding anniversary. That prevented him from gracing the induction and oath-taking ceremony of the newly-elected officials of Cacoy Doce Pares World Eskrima Federation at their headquarters along C. Padilla Street, Cebu City.

Cacoy, who hails from San Fernando, Cebu, became lifetime president of Doce Pares after the death of Eulogio "Yoling" Cañete, his brother and original founder of the club, in 1988.

Known to his students as a mentor, an older brother and a comedian, Cacoy traveled around the world from Australia to Europe and key cities in the United States to spread the word of eskrima under the banner of Doce Pares, the country's longest-lasting martial arts organization.

Aside from being an eskrima professor, Cacoy was also an author having published five books on eskrima. These are the 'Basic Doce Pares Eskrima' in 1988, 'Pangamot' (Bare-handed Defense System) in 2002, 'Eskrido' (Eskrima, Jujitsu & Judo Integrated) in 2004, 'Eskrima-Arnis Techniques' in 2009, and the 'Olisi-Baraw' in 2014.

According to, Cacoy was trained in other martial arts, including jujitsu, boxing, judo, free style wrestling, Shorin-ryu karate, and aikido. He was famous for fighting over 100 no-rules eskrima matches and was the preeminent Doces Pares warrior.

A 12th degree black belt, Cacoy developed a personal system of eskrima he named Eskrido in 1951. The following year, he became a chief instructor in single olisi, pangamut (empty hand techniques) and eskrido.

Even at the age 60, Cacoy emerged as champion of the 1st Open Arnis Tournament in Cebu City and the 1st National Invitational Arnis Tournament in Manila in 1979, both of which were sponsored by the National Arnis Association of the Philippines and organized by Cañete's nephew and former student SGM Dionisio 'Diony' Cañete, who served as president of NARAPHIL at that time.

Upon learning of the demise of Cacoy, SGM Diony Cañete has nothing but words of respect and admiration for his venerable uncle, whom he considered as his greatest mentor.

"The death of  Tiyo Cacoy is a great loss, not only for the Cañete family and Doce Pares but also for the Filipino martial. He will always be remembered as a 'super' great eskrimador, who revolutionized the art and brought eskrima to a level of popularity what it is today. He was such popular and colorful that when one speaks about eskrima, it's always the name "Cacoy" that comes up; that it's been aptly said, "Cacoy is Eskrima and Eskrima is Cacoy," said SGM Diony, president emeritus of the World Kali-Eskrima Arnis Federation (WEKAF), an organization he founded in 1987.

"Although feared by opponent being a fierce and relentless fighter, and who loves to fight and never refused and 'challenge,' he was such a very genial and loving person, a good family man, a loving husband and a great father to his seven children."

"To me personally, Tiyo Cacoy's death is a tragic event, the loss of a man who gave me immense knowledge and understanding about the Filipino martial art, and guided me for more than 50 years in my eskrima advocacy. And who, despite out slight differences in policy and philosophy in the promotion of eskrima, has continued to show his utmost love and respect, that the last time I saw him, a couple of weeks back, his genuine smile and hearty laugh will forever linger in my memory," SGM Diony continued.

"Yes he is gone, but to me, to all of us the Cañete family, and Doce Pares, he will always be remembered for what he has done perhaps to a period longer than forever."

For his invaluable contribution and selfless dedication to the development of the Cebuano martial art, Cacoy was enshrined into the Cebu Sports Hall of Fame in 1997. Three years later, he was chosen as one of the "Most Outstanding Cebuanos of the Century" by the Cebuano Studies and Historical Association. All in all, he received a total of 18 awards from the United States Martial Arts Association among his countless accolades.

Cacoy's seven children namely Alex, Bernadette, Catherine, Dennis, Edgar (deceased), Faye and Glenn are also eskrima experts, while his grandson GM Chuck Cañete is presently the Vice President for Operations of Cacoy Doce Pares, holds a rank of Grandmaster. (FREEMAN)


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