Sunday, September 21, 2008

Is Original Filipino Tapado Dead? by Robie Lobrido

Word in the US is spreading that Original Filipino Tapado is already dead in Negros , its place of birth, simply because its Founder is already dead. I think the record needs to be straightened and the truth be known.

First, I’d like to introduce myself. I am Robie P. Lobrido, 30 years of age, the daughter of Benefredo “Bebing” Mamar Lobrido and Rosenda Pelarion Lobrido, both of Prk. Langka, Brgy. Taloc, Bago City , Negros Occidental.

Early this year, I got back to Bacolod from Cebu . I rode on a car-for-rent from the airport to my home. The driver, who was from Abuanan, started a conversation with me while his balikbayan boss was just listening. When I said I was going home to Taloc, the driver asked me if I was related to the Mamar and Lobrido Clans, who were reknowned in the area for being adepts at the long stickfighting art of Original Filipino Tapado. I told him that I was indeed related to them and that my father now heads the system.

At that point, the owner of the car-for-rent, who introduced himself as Mr. Jojo Apelyido, a balikbayan from Chicago , USA , joined the conversation. He told me that he went to a martial arts gym in his area, looking for Original Filipino Tapado but he was told that the system is already dead because its Founder is already dead. He said he left unconvinced and thought that he might be able to find something when he get back to Bacolod although he didn’t know where to start because he didn’t know anyone who can point him to the right direction.

I was surprised at Mr. Apelyido’s pronouncement. I told him that the one who told him that might not have the slightest idea of what he was talking about or that he just got the wrong information.

I told Mr. Apelyido that the late Grandmaster Romeo “Nono” C. Mamar, or simply Teo Nono for us who were his family, founded the indigenous BagoueƱo long stickfighting art Original Filipino Tapado. My Tatay (father), Grandmaster Benefredo “Bebing” Mamar Lobrido, is the nephew of Teo Nono and was designated by him as the only Chief Instructor of his art until his death in 2005.

I informed Mr. Apelyido that Tatay started training in Original Filipino Tapado under Teo Nono when he was just 10 years old. That was way back in 1960, the same year the system was founded by Teo Nono. Me and my sisters would giggle when Tatay would tell us that at that time he was still wearing a puroy (shorts) and that at times had difficulty keeping hold of the big sticks for they were bigger than his hands.

Actually, my Tatay’s introduction to Arnis was when he was 9 years old. He had three professors, two of whom taught Oido de Caburata, a precursor art to Original Filipino Tapado. The other one taught him an empty handed style of Arnis. Oido de Caburata was an innovation of the methodo styles of Arnis existing at that time. It is primarily a solo baston style but with a much longer stick than the usual Arnis, at about 32”.

Tatay assisted Teo Nono in teaching his students. When he was about 11 or 12 years old, he was the tig-sparring (feeder of attacks) to the students of Teo Nono who were much older and bigger than him. Tatay is not physically big so Teo Nono taught him how to properly handle the power behind the students’ strikes while feeding. Tatay went on to develop his skills in feeding using one hand against much larger students holding bigger sticks with both hands with instructions to hit with their strongest.

Even before the Original Filipino Tapado Long Stickfighting Association (OFTLSFA) was formed in the mid 1980s, Teo Nono had already designated Tatay as the Chief Instructor of his art. Of course, there were others who also assisted Teo Nono in his teaching, especially those outside of Bago, such as his cousin Teo Turing Mamar, who was a winner of several challenge matches pitting Original Filipino Tapado against other styles of Arnis.

During those times, challenge matches were the norm among Arnis teachers. Original Filipino Tapado, being a new art, had its fair share of these “duels.” There is no record of the exact number of duels with which Original Filipino Tapado was tested by adapts from other styles and systems although as a child I often overheard many stories from the oldies of the Mamar and Lobrido Clans of how so and so fought so and so Teo Turing and Tatay had their fair share of these fights. Of course, there were gentlemanly fights and there were also grudge fights.

I told Mr. Apelyido that Tatay now heads Original Filipino Tapado and actively preserves and continues the legacy and teachings of Teo Nono. The Mamar and Lobrido Clans, represented by the Founder’s son Romeo “Tokong” Mamar Jr., designated Tatay as the 1st Generation Inheritor/Current Grandmaster of Original Filipino Tapado during the internment of Teo Nono, which was attended by Tapadistas (Tapado practitioners) from Bago, Bacolod , and San Carlos Cities . Turnover pictures can be seen at

The truth is Original Filipino Tapado is very much alive in Negros today, more than ever. And it has become more exposed more often to the public. The local newspapers and magazines, TV, radio, the internet, and many martial arts events have featured the art and the Original Filipino Tapado Long Stick Fighting Association (OFTLSFA), Inc. in more recent times.

Original Filipino Tapado has been featured in the Vol. 51 No. 17 March 2008 issue of The Spectrum, the official publication of the University of St. La Salle (USLS), as well as several issues of the national level Rapid Journal published by Mr. Daniel Go of Binondo. Local newspapers in Bacolod and Iloilo had published activities of Original Filipino Tapado. The latest TV appearances of Original Filipino Tapado were with ABS CBN, the Philippines ’ largest broadcasting network, last July 2008. Original Filipino Tapado activities can be read at and; and videos at (search for Original Filipino Tapado).

Time flew so fast. Before we knew it, I was already home. I invited Mr. Apelyido to come in and meet Tatay in person. Both of them had a long chat over hot cups of coffee, as was customary in our place. Mr. Apelyido went home satisfied knowing that Original Filipino Tapado was indeed alive in Negros .

It makes me wonder why these kind of baseless rumors crop up. The best I can come up with is to speculate. I want to get upset but Tatay told me to just leave it at that, anyway we don’t teach in the US except for a few members who are living there. I just smiled back at him. “Remember, the duty of our family is to preserve the art and legacy of Teo Nono for those who wish to learn and are worthy of it in the next generation rather than to make Original Filipino Tapado everybody’s cup of tea in the martial arts community. As long as I, our family, and our practtitioners are alive, Teo Nono’s Original Filipino Tapado will always be alive, that’s a promise,” Tatay added.

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