ANGELES CITY - It was a clean sweep for the Philippines on the first day of Arnis competition at the 30th Southeast Asian Games, as the host country hauled in four gold medals in the men's live stick events on Sunday.
The national martial art of the Philippines, it comes naturally that the Filipinos will have an advantage in the sport, but nevertheless their opponents put up a gallant effort.
Dexler Bolambao's opening performance set the tone from the get-go, as he conquered Myanmar's Soc Paing in the Finals of the bantamweight division.
Although disadvantaged in height, Villardo Cunamay towered over Cambodia's Mengly Yong in the championship of the lightweight category.
Meanwhile, Niño Mark Talledo clinched the third gold of the day for the team, besting Van Kein Vu in the men's featherweight category.
Team captain Mike Bañares hauled the Philippines' fourth and swept clean the men's category, as he defeated Vietnam's Van Kian Khawi in the welterweight division.
After an emotional win in the presence of Arnis federation president Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, Bañares hopes the Philippines' dominant performance in the sport can help recruit aspiring arnistadores.
"I hope this can make things open for Philippine arnis. I hope this will just be the beginning," Bañares said in Filipino. "I hope the Filipinos will learn to love arnis, because this is our sport. We must love it, support it, and learn it in school since this is really ours."
Last hosted in 2005, Arnis saw a 14-year hiatus before being revived by the organizers as one of the 56 events hosted in the biggest edition of the sporting meet yet.
In comparison, the Philippines just notched three medals out of a possible six in the 2005 edition.