Even before Arnis (Eskrima for the Cebuanos) was named as the National Martial Art and Sport of the Philippines yours truly have been documenting this indigenous art since 1995 in the local front where a scarcity of established records have left many arnisadors unrecognized outside their own locality. I have traveled to a considerable part of Negros and in these travels I have only came across a few women who were into Arnis.
For obvious reasons it was only recently when more women got involved in Arnis. Traditional training as conducted by the old timers involved unpadded contact and hematoma in the different parts of the body was a regular occurrence. In other cases, bladed weapons had been used, just like in the case of the late Grandmaster Santiago “Tiaging” Tolentino of Lapu-Lapu Viñas Arnis who trained American professor, researcher/writer, and Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) Master Dr. Ronald A. Harris in the 1980s.
Predictably, with the official state recognition of Arnis, more women will be encouraged to be involved in this truly Filipino martial and cultural art. For this issue, let me present to you dear readers to Shiela M. Duran.
Shiela M. Duran is a Teacher II at the Mandalagan Elementary School handling MSEPT (Music, Arts, and Physical Education). She also serves the school as a Library Hub Coordinator and an ICT (Information Computer Technology) Coordinator. She completed her academic requirements in Master of Arts in Education at the Carlos A. Hilado Memorial State College in Talisay City in 2006.
Duran, who is Woodbadge holder, is a District I Coordinator for the Boy Scout of the Philippines and is a training team member (Bacolod City Division).
She is a 1st Dan Black Belt (Coach/Trainor) in Taekwondo under Frankie Tortogo of Wolfhound Taekwondo Club and a Brown Belt in Karate-do under Bert Ginete Sensei and Dr. Mariel Defallo of the Renzoku Martial Arts Academy (RMAC).
Duran is a member of the Bacolod Chapter of Golden Kamagong Arnis Kali Eskrima Association (GKAKEA) of P/SUPT. (Ret.) Founder/Grandmaster Ibarra E. Lopez, International Modern Arnis Federation, Philippines (IMAFP)-Bacolod Chapter under its President, GM Lopez, and Arnis Philippine, Inc.-Bacolod/Negros Chapter under Commissioner Grandmaster Danilo “Danny” Cardinal. She serves as Secretary of IMAFP-Bacolod Chapter.
She started studying Arnis in 2007 and is currently recognized as a Master in Arnis by GKAKEA of GM Lopez. She holds the distinction as the first female to be nationally accredited in Arnis DepEd, first female Regional Referee in Negros for Arnis Philippines, and one of the two female International Referee for International Modern Arnis Federation, Philippines (the other is Lisa Masicampo).