On July 20th to 24th, over five hundred fighters from 43 different countries converged in Cebu City to compete at the World Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation (WEKAF) World Championship 2016. Among these fighters are 23 delegates from Tacurong City composed of grade school, high school, and college students. At the end of the competition, Philippines was declared the Over-all Champion with Tacurong City bagging 22 golds, 24 silvers, and 13 bronze medals.

Jonah Mae Dorero, a Criminology student from SKSU, bagged the most golds for Double Weapon Traditional Anyo, Double Stick Sparring, and Knife Fighting. Other categories that the Tacurong fighters competed in were Single Stick Sparring, Single Padded Stick Sparring, Team Synchronized, Single Weapon Traditional Anyo, Double Weapon Non-Traditional Anyo, and Long Stick Sparring.

Beginning in May, the Tacurong fighters underwent rigorous training under Master Efren Apresto to prepare for the WEKAF Championship. As early as 4 o’clock in the morning, the athletes would train and stopped only to go to school, returning after classes in the afternoon to resume practice. Two weeks before the championship, the delegates were housed at Master Apresto’s training facility to focus more on the competition. Some of the athletes have been trained for years starting at a young age of 8 until they were deemed equipped to compete in the Filipino martial arts arena.

On August 1st, the Tacurong Arnis team was presented by City Councilor Wilson Ferrer, head of the Tacurong Arnis Team delegation, during the flag raising ceremony at the Tacurong City Hall. The athletes were also given plaques of recognition in front of LGU employees and city officials. On that same morning, together with Master Apresto, the team made a courtesy call to City Mayor Lina O. Montilla. The latter was all praise and was very proud of the team; she promised to continue giving her support to the sport and the athletes.

To Jonah Mae Dorero, gold medalist in the WEKAF World Championship 2016, it was a nerve-wracking experience but the team made sure to enjoy their time in the competition. And if she can give any advice to aspiring arnis fighters in the city, she said, “Just do your best; focus and work hard; and, always be humble.” – (Yen Robles, LGU-Tacurong Information)