MABALACAT, Pampanga. — Filipino arnis warriors capped their successful campaign in the 30th Southeast Asian Games on Tuesday, picking up two more gold medals to emerge as the country’s most bemedalled sport at the end of competition at the Angeles University Foundation gym here.
While Typhoon “Tisoy” began lashing Central Luzon, Delfin Crisamuel and Mary Allin Aldeguer stormed to the top inside the packed arena, ruling the men’s and women’s non-traditional open weapon divisions of anyo (forms), boosting the glittering haul of arnis to 14 gold, two silver and three bronze medals.
The accomplishment surpassed that of dance sport, which opened the country’s drive for overall honors last Sunday with 10 gold and two silver medals in 12 events at the Royal Royce Hotel inside the Clark Freeport Zone in Angeles, Pampanga.
Sporting an Igorot-inspired attire, Crisamuel proved to be a diminutive dynamo with his routines that easily won the unanimous nod of all five judges while Aldeguer, performing with a slightly sprained ankle, did well enough to earn a similar impressive victory.
Mark David Puzon and Ryzza Jezel Sanchez added the last two medals for the hosts, taking a silver apiece in the traditional men’s and women’s open weapon for the arnis campaigners, who surpassed the expectations of delighted arnis chief Sen. Miguel Zubiri.
“I was happy when we had 12 golds but 14, this is too much, we are now the most bemedalled sport,” said Zubiri, “so I want to cry right now. But I will reserve my tears in sharing this joy with my team later. Pinaghirapan nila ito.”
Arnis bagged three gold and three silvers the last time it was held 14 years ago when the country hosted the Games in 2005.
Zubiri, who heads the Philippine Eskrima Kali Federation, said officials of Vietnam, which took home four of the 20 gold medals at stake, are seriously considering the sport when their country hosts the 31st edition in two years.
“Ginawa ko po ang makakaya ko kahit medyo masaki ang isang paa dahil natapilok po ako bago lumaro,” Aldeguer, of Taytay, Rizal, said. “God’s will po ito sa akin kaya po ako nanalo.”