Iloilo’s pride in Pencak Silat and arnis

Iloilo garnered eight gold, 10 silver and 10 bronze medals in the martial arts discipline called Pencak Silat while five gold, seven silver and six bronze medals were won by the Arnis team during the Philippine National Games held from May 22 to 29 in Negros Occidental.
This was revealed by Lino Baldevarona, regional director of the Pencak Silat Visayas. The 42  athletes came from the Western Visayas College of Science and Technology, Central Philippine University and Iloilo Doctor’s College.
Most of the players have won medals in past games like the Palarong Pambansa, some were experienced athletes while the others are recent applicants for varsity at the WVCST, according to Noe Baldevarona, coach for the Arnis team. “Most of our athletes garnered medals in the Anyo and Labanan events. The Women’s Anyo Team was able to defend their title. For the Labanan event, we got seven silver and six gold medals,” he added. Anyo consists of arnis forms while Labanan is a full contact event.
The Pencak Silat team was also composed of athletes who are experienced in national and regional competitions. “We got four gold medals each in the Men’s and Women’s Category. This came after two months of intensive training,” said Mark Aventura, coach for Pencak Silat.
Some athletes played both disciplines. Famela Grande, silver medallist for Women Tunggal (pre-determined set of movements in Pencak Silat) and Anyo (Arnis), was one .  “It was hard. After training for Pencak Silat, I trained for Arnis. It was the same during the competition where I have to travel from Talisay, venue of the Pencak Silat to Silay for the arnis competition. We worried about ‘what if the games fall on the same schedule?’ but I’m glad that it didn’t,” Grande said.
Grande added that compared to the previous years, she faced tough competition this year. “Many are excelling in both disciplines now. Our strong opponents came from Cagayan de Oro and the Polytechnic University.”
Grande has been training in Arnis for four years now. She was a player for the Palarong Pambansa when she was only in  first year high school. She started training for Pencak Silat two years ago.
Lino Baldevarona said that the champions in the Philippine National Games will make up the pool of athletes that will be screened by the Philippine Olympics Committee and the Philippine Sports Commission for the Southeast Asian Games. The athletes will be sent to Brunei September this year.  After a month, they will go to Jakarta, Indonesia where the Seagames will take place in November 2011./Marie Katherine Villalon

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