6th FMA Festival, 22nd to 29th of July, 2012

Every two years the FMA festival is hosted in the Philippines. This year from 22nd to 29th of July. For this 6th festival the organizers chosed a resort within the mountains of Negros Occidental, the Mambukal Mountain Resort close to Bacolod City.

Sunday 22nd was reserved for arrival, until late afternoon everyone should have been arrived. Some of the participants already arrived in the morning, like me and Jonas, my student of my arnis group in Dresden/Germany.

The pickup service at the airport in Bacolod worked very well. The IMAFP Bacolod chapter welcomed us inside the terminal. Then we drove from the airport, which is located a little outside of Bacolod, to the city. For the early arrivals, besides me and Jonas that were GM Bram Frank with his assistant Thomas, the first stop was at a small mall to visit the training location of the Bacolod arnis group. There we watched the training of the kids group and also met GM Ibarra Lopez and GM Max Pallen. After this short visit we continued driving and stopped a second time for lunch. Here Christopher from Hamburg/Germany joined us.

After lunch we started driving to the Mambukal Resort in the mountains east of Bacolod City. After 30 minutes we reached the resort, as first batch of participants there. The camp organizers around Ginalyn Relos welcomed us and gave us the keys of our 'villa'. This small houses were occupied by three or four persons, I joined the room with Jonas and Christopher. After a short walk we found our home for the next four days.

The first thing we did after leaving our luggage at the villa was walking through the resort and exploring everything inside. On the way we met Ferdinand, the fourth german participant and decided to take a coffee first. Ferdinand arrived one day earlier and already found a nice small café. At the late afternoon Volker arrived at the resort, so the german delegation was complete.

After the coffee we walked back to the villa and tried to relax for a while. At 7pm the official beginning of the camp was scheduled with a Welcome Banquet. After an introduction of the camp, its schedule and the instructors, I read a message of GM Datu Dieter Knüttel, who initiated the FMA festivals and held the first two in Germany and unfortunately was not able to attend this camp.
During the evening there was no special schedule, so we went back to the villa, talked a while about the first impressions.

Monday, 23rd of July
This morning the 'real' camp started … meaning the training and arnis lessons. Breakfast at 7:10am, start of training at 8am. Unfortunately not all announced instructors where able to take part, but nevertheless there were a lot of fantastic teachers who covered a big variety of topics with their lessons.

The participants were divided into four groups. Four instructors were teaching at the same time, so the groups rotated every 45 minutes to the next instructor. My lessons were at this Monday already, so this was a good chance to get familiar with many of the participants at the first day. There were participants from Canada, USA, Japan, Russia, UK, Austria, Germany and of course the Philippines. The instructors at this Monday:
  • GM Samuel Dulay – 8th Dan Modern Arnis
  • SG Ed Kwan – 4th Dan Modern Arnis
  • SG Sven Barchfeld – 5th Dan Modern Arnis
  • SG Romy Ballares – 5th Dan Modern Arnis


    After lunch the same instructors were teaching. This way it was possible to extend the short 45 minute lesson of the morning with the groups. But certainly there were only three training groups, so that one of the instructors had a short break every rotation. The training finished and dinner was served. After dinner we went back to our villa, changed clothes and picked up swimming equipment, because we wanted to visit one of the big pools of the resort. A little bit of rest and relax is good after training.

    Tuesday, 24th of July
    The schedule for today was the same like for Monday, but four different instructors were teaching:
  • GM Max Pallen
  • GM Ibarra Lopez
  • GM Bram Frank – 8th Dan Modern Arnis
  • GM Rene Tongson – 9th Dan Modern Arnis


    The training schedule had to be changed a little due to the fact that some instructors could not arrive on time due to problems because of typhoon or other effects. But the changes were done easily, so that the lessons were interesting and fun again. The big meadow that we used for training was surrounded by big trees, so it was not too hot, like e.g. at a beach.

    After training and dinner a part of the German delegation decided to visit the 'sulfur pool', a hot natural pool, arranged with stones, plants, and so on ... very nice and relaxing. A good finishing for the day.

    Wednesday, 25th of July
    On Wednesday some of us had to wake up very early, at 4:30 am. GM Rene Tongson asked the day before, if some of the instructors and students could join for a visit at a local TV station. Every country of the camp should be represented by one person there.

    We started at 5:30 am and arrived some minutes before the live broadcast of the 'morning show' started. At first some kids of the local arnis group performed an anyo. We, as 'country representatives', stood besides and showed the international spreading of participant at the Bacolod camp. Only GM Rene was interviewed and told them about Arnis in the Philippines and the FMA festival.

    The TV show ended and we decided to stop at McDonalds for breakfast, because until now there was no time for this. After breakfast and being starched, we drove back to Mambukal resort and arrived just in time to join the training at 8am.

    The training followed the same structure as the two days before, today with the following instructors:
  • GM Cristino Vasquez – 10th Dan Modern Arnis
  • GM Rene Tongson – 9th Dan Modern Arnis
  • GM Roberto Labaniego
  • GM Samuel Dulay – 8th Dan Modern Arnis
  • GM Bram Frank – 8th Dan Modern Arnis


    Except for the first lesson: here we went into the convention hall (which is our dining room) for a theoretical lesson. Jay Inage introduced and explained the ancient philippine script 'Baybayin', really exciting!

    After dinner we returned to the villa again and picked up our swimming equipment again for visiting one of the pools for cool down. After 30 minutes of swimming we changed to the hot sulfur pool ... and surprise ... half of the participants of the camp were already there. So it was a nice and funny evening with talking and laughing, until the pool closed at 10pm.

    Thursday, 26th of July
    No training was planned on this day. In the morning we had the opportunity to join some activities, like a boat trip at the small lake, using the Slide of Life or climbing at the Canopy Walk. All this activities were part of the camp fee, so that you could have done all of them, but there was too less time.

    Before breakfast we had to pack our things and leave the villa. At 9am the activities started. The German group decided to climb at the Canopy Walk. Here you climb at small bridges from tree to tree. At 30 °C that was very exhausting, but lot of fun and there were many nice views while climbing.

    The Canopy Walk is located half the way to the first of seven small waterfalls. So after finished climbing we went there and took some nice pictures. We also visited the second waterfall, but due to the time we decided to walk back to be on time for lunch. Only Ferdinand continued to all the waterfalls.

    After lunch our luggage has been transported to a new hotel in Bacolod City and roughly 20 participants started for a journey to Hinigaran, the hometown of the Presas family.

    During the trip we passed some small villages that gave interesting and nice impressions about the Philippines aside the tourist areas. Arrived in Hinigaran our Vans stopped first at the house of GM Cristino Vasquez, where we had a rest for roughly half an hour and talked. After this we only crossed the street and took a look at the old house of GM Prof, Remy Presas.

    The next stop was the grave of the Presas family. Until some month ago GM Remy was buried at a separate grave at this cemetery, now his body has been moved to the top of the family grave, together with GM Ernesto and their parents.

    Then we drove back to Bacolod City to the 'Natures Village Hotel', our place of stay for the next two nights. In the evening after dinner there was no official schedule, so most of the participants sat together and talked.

    Friday, 27th of July
    The schedule today announced training from 8am to 3pm. So after breakfast some more students of the local arnis groups joined the training and every instructor taught a lesson of 30 minutes to all of them. The training only was interrupted by lunch of course. Here are the instructors of this day:
  • GM Max Pallen
  • GM Rene Tongson
  • GM Bram Frank
  • SM Ludovico Losanes
  • SG Sven Barchfeld
  • GM Mike Vasquez
  • GM Samuel Dulay
  • SG Ed Kwan
  • SG Romy Ballares
  • GM Roberto Labaniego
  • SG Paulo Motita


    After training there was leisure time for most of the participants. The instructors had to conduct a grading ceremony for roughly 20 examinees who passed a black belt examination during the festival or some weeks before. Those ones who were tested some weeks before were also graduated at this day because they wanted to be acknowledged by the 'big council' of Masters and Grandmasters there.

    The ceremony ended at 5:30pm. So there was only little time for preparation until start of the gala night at 7pm. During the gala there were some speeches, tributes to the grandmasters and masters and also short demonstrations of every country group. Due to the short preparation time the German demonstration was very spontaneously, but I think the audience liked it. After the end of the gala there was much time for talking and bonding.

    That was the official end of the 6th FMA festival. During the following two days the 2nd World Arnis Tournament has been held also in Bacolod City. Due to my schedule I was not able to attend there, so unfortunately I can’t write about it.

    Many of the participants left Bacolod on Saturday morning after the gala, either to fly home or to continue training or holiday. Jonas and me started travelling some days through the Philippines and visited some nice locations. After this we returned to Manila, and on Sunday, 5th of August I met with GM Tony Diego in Luneta park. Some month ago the DAV initiated a fundraising for him, because his house burned down. Now we met first time in person and GM Tony thanked again everyone who donated. Then he gave a short introduction of his style, the Kalis Ilustrisimo.

    As a conclusion the 6th FMA festival was a very nice experience again with lot of fun, excellent training, meeting old and new friends as well as interesting activities. The Worldwide Family of Modern Arnis grew together more during this week. Many thanks to the organizers for a really great week!

    The next festival will be held in 2014, most likely in Luzon. So everyone who was not able to attend this year … this will be your next chance :-) The exact date and venue will be announced as soon as possible.

    (C) Text and pictures: Sven Barchfeld, 08/2012
    Gallery 1