The 32nd Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games), to be held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in May 2023, is set to include Arnis in its competition slate–making Cambodia the first foreign SEA Games host to do so.
Prior to this, Arnis had only been competitively played in the 2005 and 2019 SEA Games, both hosted by the Philippines.
“Now, we are finally getting to showcase and celebrate this great sport outside our own country,”
“We in the Philippine Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation (PEKAF) are very proud and very excited that we are finally seeing Arnis on a SEA Games stage beyond our shores,” said Senate President Migz Zubiri, who also heads PEKAF as its Chairman and President.
“We have long been promoting Arnis on the international stage, and working for it to be included as a regular sport in the SEA Games slate. And with the spectacular Arnis tournament in the 30th SEA Games, I think our Southeast Asian neighbors had a great chance to gain a deeper respect for and appreciation of the sport. And now, we are finally getting to showcase and celebrate this great sport outside our own country,” Zubiri added.
The Philippine National Arnis Team bagged a historic 14-gold medal haul in the 2019 SEA Games, along with 4 silver and 2 bronze medals. The Philippines emerged triumphant against three other participating countries, namely Cambodia, Vietnam, and Myanmar.
“The inclusion of Arnis in the upcoming SEA Games is not just about having a chance to score more medals. It is also a really significant move that gives us a platform to showcase Arnis as part of our culture. And it establishes Arnis as an indispensable part of the Southeast Asian martial arts movement,” the veteran legislator stressed.
“So I really thank the Cambodia National Olympic Committee and the SEA Games Federation for recognizing the importance of Arnis, and carving out a space for it in their sporting program,” the seasoned lawmaker added.
In preparation for the 32nd SEA Games, PEKAF will be conducting qualifiers in the National Capital Region, Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao in November and December.
“We need a good mix of young blood and veterans to take us to the top once again, and prove to the world that Arnis deserves a permanent spot in international sporting competitions.”
The winners will go on to compete against one another and the current Philippine National Team line-up in the PEKAF National Battle of Champions in early 2023. The Battle of Champions winners will then be drafted into the Philippine National Arnis Team, who will compete in the upcoming SEA Games.
“We are looking forward to discovering new players in the qualifiers, who will bring their fire and energy to the national team. We need a good mix of young blood and veterans to take us to the top once again, and prove to the world that Arnis deserves a permanent spot in international sporting competitions,” the senator said.
“Although we have not yet finalized with the SEA Games Federation the events under Arnis to be included in the 32nd SEA Games in Cambodia, we will definitely send a full and formidable team, formed from the qualifiers and the Battle of Champions,” he stressed.
“The national team just recently emerged as the overall champion in the recently concluded World Arnis Championship hosted by the World Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation in Cebu last July 2022. We look forward to a similar medal haul in the 32nd SEA Games,” Zubiri added.
“We of course thank and appreciate the efforts of the Philippine Olympic Committee under the leadership of former Congressman and now Mayor Abraham Tolentino for the inclusion of Arnis in the 32nd SEA Games, as well as the support of the Philippine Sports Commission under the new leadership of Chairman Noli Eala,” he concluded.