Sen. Miguel Zubiri, Author and Sponsor of the National Arnis Law (Rep. Act 9850) gave this message during the First National Arnis Congress held at the Red Cross Headquarters Multipurpose Hall, Mandaluyong City, Philippines, on January 12, 2017.

Sen. Miguel Zubiri, Author and Sponsor of the National Arnis Law (Rep. Act 9850) gave this message during the First National Arnis Congress held at the Red Cross Headquarters Multipurpose Hall, Mandaluyong City, Philippines, on January 12, 2017.


By: Joy @


Sen. Miguel Zubiri, Author and Sponsor of the National Arnis Law (Rep. Act 9850) gave this message during the First National Arnis Congress held at the Red Cross Headquarters Multipurpose Hall, Mandaluyong City, Philippines, on January 12, 2017.

He asked his staff to email this to me and I’m printing it as is.

“My love affair with Arnis started many years ago, when I was a young teenager training in martial arts, fascinated by traditional Chinese and Japanese weaponry. As young boys, we all wanted to be just like Ezekiel Thompson of the movie, “Force Five” played by weapons expert Richard Norton for his expertise in different weapons systems.

Inspired by these icons, I started training with these weapons systems under 9th Dan, Sensie Robert Campbell of the Uechi-Ryu Okinawan Karate while doing my open hands training and kick boxing skills with Master Topher Ricketts of Bakbakan and Sagasa Karate System.

When Master Topher saw that I was interested in weapons, he asked me to try Arnis. My first reaction was “Why?”. All 16 year olds at that time wanted to be like Sho Kusugi from all the Ninja films. But then he told me to trust him about the effectiveness of the Filipino Martial Art. I guess at that time, hindi uso maging Arnisador as it wasn’t as famous as those weapons systems seen in the movies. Unlike today, where we see Tom Cruise or Matt Damon doing FMA on screen, to the delight of all FMA practitioners.

So one afternoon, in 1986, Master Topher introduced me to a short and stocky man in his mid-twenties who had the biggest forearms I had ever seen.

I clearly recall telling him that he had “Popeye arms”, which broke the ice and started a wonderful friendship between student and master. His name was Master Edgar Sulite.

My first lesson from him was a realization of how deadly and effective our Arnis system was in the real world. He would ask me to throw sticks, and even tennis balls at him, while doing the sinawali and to my amazement; it was impossible for me to penetrate his defense.

He would then show Knife fighting techniques and empty hand techniques including takedowns, which were truly effective for real life situations and not just for fancy movie props and entertainment.

I was in love… in love with this martial art and there was no turning back.

I discovered for myself that we had a hidden gem, a secret treasure. A martial art that was so unassuming yet so effective, so complex and yet so simple, so graceful and yet so deadly. But most of all, it was our very own Filipino Martial Art. From then on, I met and trained with other legends like Grand Master Antonio Illustrissimo and GM Tony Diego, under the watchful eye of my adopted father figure Master Rickettes.

It was at this time that I saw how the art and sport grew. I had the opportunity to compete in several national competitions and the honor to represent the Philippins at the First World Arnis Tournament held at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium in 1989, under the invitation of the Cañete Family of Doce Pares and WEKAF. I will forever be greatful to them for allowing me to compete in their tournament.

Unfortunately, as the sport grew, so did the intrigues. I have seen for myself how little by little, we have been tearing each other apart rather than staying united. On how groups were starting to feel unwelcome because of certain personalities. Or being deemed “disloyal” for joining certain activities not “sanctioned” by governing bodies.

This should never be the case. I, myself was a victim as well, of this brand of destructive politics in sports. In 1991, I was not allowed to participate in the SEA Games Arnis competition even if I was the reigning National Champion because of the simple reason that I had joined tournaments sponsored by other organizations. Again, this should never happen. I believe that every one of you, your students and your followers, should have the support and encouragement from the government and our national organization to enhance your skills and strengthen your art and style. No jealousy, no discrimination; only support and guidance.

Moving forward, through the efforts of Grand Master Roland Dantes and several Arnisador, I filed SB #3288 and in 2009, we finally passed it as RA 9850.

Unfortunately, GM Roland was never able to see it made into law as he passed away before it was approved. Let us recognize his efforts. Let us give GM Roland Dantes a rousing round of applause for all his efforts to unify our Martial Art and Spots through legislation, and this is what we are recognizing today. Not just the efforts of GM Roland, but of all our Masters and Grand Masters who have gone before us. This gathering today is for all their hopes and dreams that one day, Arnis, Kali and Escrima would be recognized; by our government, by our people, by the world.

The steps that we take today will make sure that no one should be left behind, that no student should be disallowed from joining competitions, that no organization, or school, should be discriminated from financial assistance from government or by the unified organization, and that no Grand Master, past or present, will ever be forgotten.

Today, we are at the crossroads of history my friends. Today, we forget that we are Doce Pares, Kalis Illustrissimo, Modern Arnis, Balintawak, Lightning, Pekiti Tirsia, Bakbakan, Lameco, etc…

Today, we are one in our mission to unite all our styles, all our beliefs, all our dreams, under one unified FMA Organization; promoting inclusivity, chosen democratically and run through constant consultation and guided by our RA 9850, under the guidance and support of the Philippine Sports Commission.

Change has come.

Today, let us make history!

Mabuhay and Arnis, Kali and Escrima.

Mabuhay tayong lahat.”

Eskrima Documentary Series – Teaser Trailer: Ang Dangal Ng Lahi (Pride)

Eskrima Documentary Series – Teaser Trailer: Ang Dangal Ng Lahi (Pride)

Ang Dangal ng Lahi (Pride) is a series of short documentaries about the Warrior Arts of the Philippines commonly known as Eskrima, Arnis and Kali. The focus will be arts and organizations of Bakbakan Philippines, Ilustrisimo and Lameco Eskrima.

Director: Tim Fredianelli
General Consultant: Dino Flores
Kapisanang Mandirigma Productions

Release Date: 2015

For more information go to:

© 2015 Kapisanang Mandirigma Productions, All Rights Reserved.


Through sponsorship by Senator Miguel Zubiri – Arnis Officially Declared National Martial Art and Sport, Dec. 11 2009


Researched by the Executive-Legislative Liaison Service



RA 9850





The principal author and sponsor of RA 9850 is Senator Juan Miguel “Migz” F. Zubiri. He is a dedicated Martial Artist and Eskrimador. His primary teacher since childhood is Grandmaster Christopher Ricketts, founder of Bakbakan Philippines. System that he studied under Grandmaster Ricketts include Bakbakan Sagasa Kickboxing, Ngo Cho Kung Fu and Kali Ilustrisimo. Other teachers include Bakbakan Members Grandmaster Alex Co (Ngo Cho), Punong Guro Edgar G. Sulite (Lameco Eskrima), Grandmaster Tony Diego (Kali Ilustrisimo) and Grandmaster Antonio Ilustrisimo himself.


master-ricketts-bakbakan lameco ilustrisimo sagasa sulite

Miguel with some of his teachers and fellow Bakbakan members.


Lameco Sulite-advanced-balisong

On the cover of the “Advanced Balisong” book with one of his teachers, Punong Guro Edgar Sulite.

Senator Juan Miguel F. Zubiri

In 2008, Senator Juan Miguel “Migz” F. Zubiri, at age 39, became the youngest to be elected as Senate Majority Leader since the First Congress in 1946. A veteran legislator, he served the 3rd District of Bukidnon from 1998 to 2007 and was always cited as one of the most outstanding solons in the House of Representatives. He has also maintained a perfect attendance in the Plenary Sessions for the last 12 years (4 Congresses) both as Congressman and as Senator, and including this 15th Congress.

In the 14th Congress and during his stint as Senate Majority Leader, Sen. Zubiri helped steer the Senate to a record performance of around 650 bills enacted into laws.

Sen. Migz is the principal author and sponsor of more than 20 major laws, both in the Senate and during his stint as Congressman. As a fervent advocate of clean energy, he worked for the passage of RA 9513 or the Renewable Energy Act of 2008 and RA 9367 or the Biofuels Act of 2006, earning him the moniker Mr. Clean Energy. Among the other laws he sponsored, principally authored or co-authored are:


RA10068 – Organic Agriculture Act of 2010;

RA 9147 – Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act;

RA 10121 – Philippine Disaster Risk Management Act;

RA 9165 – Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002;

RA 9679 – the Home Development Mutual Fund Law of 2009 (Pag-IBIG Fund);

RA 9653 – the Rent Control Act of 2009;

RA 9997 – the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos Act of 2009;

RA 9996 – the Mindanao Development Authority Act of 2010;

RA 9904 – the Magna Carta for Homeowners and Homeowners’ Associations;

RA 9903 – Condonation of Penalties on Delinquent Social Security Contributions;

RA 9507 – the Socialized and Low-Cost Housing Loan Condonation Program;

RA 9850 – Declaring Arnis as the National Martial Art and Sport;

RA 9500 – UP Charter Amendments;

RA 9163 – National Service Training Program;

RA 9166 – Armed Forces of the Philippines Rate Pay Base Increase Act;

RA 10072 – the New Charter of the Philippine Red Cross;

RA 9645 – Declaring July 27 of Every Year as Araw ng Iglesia Ni Cristo and as Special Working Holiday; and

RA 9849 – Declaring Eidul Adha as a National Holiday.

He is also considered the “father” of the New Cooperative Code being the principal sponsor and author of RA 9520 or the Philippine Cooperative Code of 2008.

Sen. Migz is known as a champion of environmental concerns, an advocacy he pursues in the Senate and among his top legislative agenda. In the current 15th Congress, he chairs the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. He also chairs the Committee on Cooperatives and 3 Joint Congressional Oversight Committees such as the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act; Joint Congressional Committee on Clean Air Act; and the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Cooperatives. He is also a member of 20 other Senate standing committees.

Sen. Migz is involved in concrete environmental programs such as being the founder of the Philippine Deer Foundation, a deer conservation project, and as President of the Palawan-based Katala Foundation which protects endangered wildlife species and their habitats. A trained first aider and certified rescue diver, he is a Governor of the Philippine Red Cross and active member of the Red Cross Youth Committee and Concerned Divers of the Philippines.

Senator Zubiri has published two books: the Philippine Cooperative Code of 2008, and Bukidnon: The Philippine Frontier. He is a graduate of Master’s in Environment and Natural Resources Management at the University of the Philippines Open University and Bachelor of Science in Agri-Business Management at the University of the Philippines in Los Baños. He has also been conferred four Honorary or Honoris Causa Doctoral degrees by various private and state universities.

Senator Migz takes pride for being the husband to lovely Audrey; a loving father to Ma. Adriana and Juanmi; and a good son to Vice-Governor Jose Ma. Zubiri, Jr. of Bukidnon, and Victoria Fernandez-Zubiri of Libon, Albay.



Miguel Zubiri Bakbakan Ilustrisimo Lameco

Miguel Zubiri signing a copy of RA 9850 for us.RA 9850

Principal author and sponsor of RA 9850 as Senator.

In the rear there are several Eskrima tournament awards that Miguel won. In his first ever tournament which he won, it was only Punong Guro Sulite and himself who entered him on a whim. Other tournaments had Master Ricketts and Grandmaster Ilustrisimo as his Coach and corner man.

In the foreground a copy of Punong Guro Sulites book “Advanced Balising” with him as a teenager on the comer with one of his teachers.