Filipino martial arts ready for integration into Cebu heritage tours

·2 min read

TOURISTS will soon enjoy Cebu heritage circuits enriched with the integration of Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) into the cultural experience.

A substantive technical assessment of the Sugbo Sentral Heritage Trail, one of three documented FMA routes, was recently completed in a four-day assembly of industry stakeholders. Assessment of the documented Habagatan and Amihanan trails will also be pursued.

The assembly was organized by the Department of Tourism-Central Visayas (DOT 7) in collaboration with the FMA 7 community; travel, trade and accommodations sectors; Cebu Provincial Tourism Office, Tourism Offices of the tri-cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu; and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority. It included product development workshops, a stakeholders’ forum and the pilot testing of Sugbo Sentral which runs through the three cities.

Gelena Asis-Dimpas, DOT 7 chief tourism operations officer, said the diversity of the different FMA systems, the art and skill involved in their execution are an interesting cultural offering to domestic and international visitors.

“Our FMA practitioners are so engaged in the art and sport of FMA. They have developed truly fascinating routines and moves aside from arsenals of weapons and tools of various forms,” Dimpas said.

According to Dimpas, FMA presents a wide range of experience formats. It may be offered as a standalone cultural immersion for visiting families and enthusiasts or creative team-building program for corporate entities.

FMA has also proven its potential to draw crowds of Philippine and international learners and experts in the craft for training camps and tournaments, a boon to the tourism industry. The 16th World Championships of the World Eskrima, Kali, Arnis Federation in July 2022 brought 400 delegates from 10 countries for a week of competitions in Mandaue City.

The test run was a combined Cebu-Mactan Twin City and Historical and Cultural Tour highlighted by a visit to an FMA Learning Center where participants had a mock tournament in full battle gear.

An added highlight was interaction at a knifesmith shop specializing in custom handmade weapons for FMA training and self-defense. Local craftsmen from towns such as Liloan and Talisay are responsible for fashioning the blades using knowledge passed down by their forebears.

The group also made stops at the Museo Sugbo, Fort San Pedro and Plaza Independencia, among a host of sites, culminating at the Mactan Liberty Shrine. At each location, an FMA grandmaster showcased a distinctive system.

Local government units intend to enhance sites identified for FMA significance, baluartes and watchtowers, among them. Raffy Rafols of the Lapu-Lapu City Tourism, Cultural and Historical Affairs Office presented the city’s best practices in recognizing the FMA clubs and including them in priority programs. (PR)