The Philippine Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation (PEKAF) began the two-day National Battle of Champions on Saturday at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium, aiming to tap the best athletes that will see action in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games set in Cambodia in May.
The two-day event that will close on Sunday brought together more than 200 arnis champions from regional qualifiers in Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao, and the National Capital Region.
“We made sure to hold these regional qualifiers so we can have all-inclusive participation from across the country,” said Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, Chairman and President of the PEKAF.
“Having seen our arnisadors from across the qualifiers, I am very confident that we will be able to put together a truly formidable National Arnis Team.”
The PNAT is set to represent the Philippines at the upcoming 32nd Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) in Cambodia—marking the return of arnis to the SEA Games, after its exclusion in the 31st SEA Games in Vietnam. This is the first time that arnis will be played competitively in the SEA Games outside of the Philippines.
“We already made history back in 2019, when we bagged a massive haul of 14 gold medals at the 30th SEA Games. This year, I hope—and I am certain—that we can once again dominate the Games, and collect an even bigger haul.
“And that all begins here, with our PEKAF tournaments and our Battle of Champions, where we will see the best of the best in arnis.”