Team Out of Town Blog Hub (Outoftownblog.com) – The Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) is fast becoming a strong tourism product with great potential, the Department of Tourism – Central Visayas (DOT7) observes.
DOT7 extended its support to the 16th World Championships of the World Eskrima, Kali, Arnis Federation (WEKAF) held at the Mandaue City Sports Complex from July 16 – 21, 2022.
About 400 delegates from 10 countries participated in the forms and sparring competitions featured in the week-long gathering.
Gelena Asis-Dimpas, DOT7 Chief Tourism Operations Officer, says that Central Visayas “has gained unprecedented popularity as the hub of FMA.”
Cebu, in particular, Dimpas adds, boasts over 30 diverse FMA systems or styles, the most number found in a single area. Practitioners and enthusiasts organize visits to the Philippines to learn the numerous configurations of FMA and various fighting styles. They also participate in training camps and tournaments.
Cebu is the birthplace of eskrima and WEKAF. WEKAF hosted the first international games in Cebu City in 1989, the year of its founding.
FMA consists of performance-based and competitive systems using hands, sticks, and bladed weapons. It traces its beginnings to the time when Filipinos developed ways of defending themselves from attackers using just their hands, sticks, or whatever material was within reach. Sticks, knives, and other materials were incorporated into the routines as hand extensions. Over time, practitioners integrated science and culture into the art, and various styles have been discovered – hand-to-hand combat, stick-fighting, grappling, and disarming.
The diversity of FMA systems – in routines, techniques, weaponry, and rituals – ensures that there is always something new to discover at each club or group.
In partnership with the masters and grandmasters of diverse eskrima systems, the DOT7, through its Cultural Tourism Program, is developing FMA Heritage Trails to promote appreciation both as sport and art form. “FMA is an authentic Filipino product and is definitely part of our national heritage. It is not only interesting both as art and sport; it is another means by which we share our identity and forge friendships with the rest of the world,” Dimpas stated.