Monday, July 28, 2008

Kali Country, Where the Flavor Is

The Philippine archipelago, comprised of 7,100 islands in the Western Pacific Ocean, is a small country with a big population. It once was the Pearl Of the Orient during the high time of sea expeditions. Philippine history, many argue, did not begin with the coming of the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. Rather, it began in the 13th century, when 10 datus from Borneo, each with a hundred of his kinsmen, landed in what is now known as Panay Island in the Visayas. Yet it was Magellan, and succeeding expeditions from Spain, who put the Philippine archipelago on the map of the world. The intrepid Magellan was dubbed the discoverer of the Philippines after he landed in Homonhon islet, near Samar, on March 17, 1521. He was later killed in Mactan island of Cebu, in a clash with native warriors led by a chieftain named Lapu-Lapu.

The Philippines is a melting pot of different cultures. Many westerners have decided to make their home in this country due to the tropical weather, ease of business and simply, the culture. Accessibility of resources found on the islands from other Southeast Asian countries together with the West is apparently abundant in the region. Basically one will get the best of both worlds.

The fighting culture is still the same as it once was. Guns and knives are relatively seen in guerrilla warfare. Where tanks and heavy artillery cannot infiltrate, bladed weapons gets the job done. Kali is the martial art of the Philippines. It was practised way back during the formation of the Srivijayan and Majapahit empires. Other popular names are Arnis and Escrima during the Spanish occupation up to present times. Pekiti-Tirsia, as a system was formed during the late 19th century by Conrado Tortal, is a system of the Tortal family. The sole heir and guardian of this system is Leo T. Gaje, Jr. who is referred to as the Grand Tuhon. Pekiti-Tirsia is a combat-oriented style, as opposed to sport orientation by other systems. Pekiti-Tirsia is currently the only Kali system recognized by the Philippine government used to train Force-Recon Marine Battalions of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Special Action Force (SAF) contingent of the Philippine National Police.

Among regular civilians, the Pekiti-Tirsia battle demeanor is rarely seen but only felt. Practitioners are taught to believe in life not in death, health not in sickness, and success not in failure. Concepts of counter offense rather than defense are instructed. This means that a practitioner, though a civilian, should be always conscious and aware with his surroundings. A battle-ready mindset should always be present. Pekiti-Tirsia prepares the person to survive in times of crisis. The ability to see the danger without engaging the danger, ability to prepare to find an exit with speed without being inside the danger zone. An immediate solution is applied leaving no evidence, a complete self-defence skill. We have to survive no matter what and at any cost. In the brotherhood, everyone is advised to always train hard for in training hard, great friendships are forged. We can never be truly friends if the friendship is only based on good times and shallow relationships. But if there is an ordeal, the friendship is forged in the fire and metal and clang of the blade. We get past the ordeal and we are friends forever.

No comments: