Thursday, May 30, 2013

Arnis GM Guarra Turns 80 By: James U. Sy Jr.

80th birthday celebration of Grandmaster Estanislao “Eslao” Terante Guarra last May 19, 2013 at the Guarra Residence, Brgy. Lag-asan, Bago City. From left: Grandmaster Isaac “Saac” T. Guarra (Arjuka), 1st generation Inheritor/Grandmaster Benefredo “Bebing” Mamar Lobrido (Original Filipino Tapado), Atty. Col. Grandmaster Marcelo C. Jalandoon, Ph.D., (NOBF), P/Sgt. (Ret.) Grandmaster Estanislao “Eslao” T. Guarra (Guarra Style Modern Arnis), Grandmaster Felix A. Guinabo (Trece Grabes Piga-Piga System), and Master James U. Sy Jr. (Conceptual Arnis System) (James U. Sy Jr./CMAS photo). Bungkag Lalaw of Mrs. Perla Guarra, wife of P/Sgt. (Ret.) Grandmaster Estanislao “Eslao” T. Guarra, and Brgy. Lag-asan Fiesta last May 26, 2013 at the Guarra Residence, Brgy. Lag-asan, Bago City. Grandmaster Estanislao “Eslao” T. Guarra of Guarra Style Modern Arnis (in yellow) with (from left): Kimberly O. Longno, Master Joeffrey S. Deriada, Montano Mondia IV of Conceptual Martial Arts Society (CMAS), Inc. (James U. Sy Jr./CMAS photo). P/Sgt. (Ret.) Grandmaster Estanislao “Eslao” Terante Guarra, one of the few remaining active old time eskrimadors in Negros Occidental, celebrated his 80th birthday together with his family and a few Arnis friends last May 19, 2013 at the Guarra Residence in Brgy. Lag-asan, Bago City. Arnis/Eskrima is a martial culture indigenous to the different Christianized ethnic groups of the Republic of the Philippines. Originally using blades of different shapes and sizes, Arnis/Eskrima today practiced with a stick in place of the blade because we are now living in the new society and safety reasons for its practitioners. GM Guarra is among the few remaining living treasures of this art, which was tested in countless conflicts in generations of eskrimadors. GM Eslao Guarra himself was born to a family of arnisadors on May 19, 1933 in Bago City. His father, Grandmaster Cornelio “Kune” Toledo Guarra, taught the young Eslao and his six brothers and six sisters Arnis. All the Guarra siblings were trained in their father’s and his seven friends’ fighting arts locally known as Herada Redoble or Espada y Daga. The young Eslao Guarra went on to study under different professors of Arnis, 20 of them in all. Among his teachers were Grandmasters Guillermo “Guimo” Yasay, Alfredo “Pedong” Yasay, and Constantino Arca (Ofensa Defensa/Yasay Sable), Claro Alvarez (Saber), Esmael “Maing” Alvarez (Saber), Senyong, Reynaldo Cabinta of Bukidnon (Disarming), Homero Sian (Fencing), Anong Abellana (Judo), Casimiro “Chingi” A. Grandeza (Karate), Juan Recomura, Jose Garganera, Sulpecio Fernea (Herada Batangueña), Tatang Balat of Pampanga, etc. Eslao Guarra put to the test his skills in Arnis by engaging in unpadded full contact surrender policy fights against other accomplished arnisadors of Negros Occidental. His fights had earned him a reputation as a fearless eskrimador who is always ready to put everything on the line. On February 20, 1956, Guarra, then 22, started his 32 years service in the Bago City Integrated National Police (INP). Guarra had served as a training staff of the Bago City Police Station, having trained auxiliary police in all barangays of Bago City . Within his illustrious career he had received many awards and commendations, among them the Most Outstanding Policeman of Negros Occidental award. Master Guarra had served as Security Officer and ROTC Tactical Officer at the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos (UNO-R). He started teaching Arnis publicly in about 1970. He retired as a multi-decorated police sergeant on May 19, 1998 and by that time had already taught Arnis/Eskrima to not less than 10,000 barangay tanods, police officers, security guards, and civilians. GM Guarra is the Founder/Grandmaster of the Guarra Style Modern Arnis, his own fusion of the different styles of Arnis/Eskrima he has learned over the years. He is the current President of the Negros Occidental Baston Federation (NOBF), Inc., Council of Elders of the Intercontinental Federation of Filipino Martial Arts Schools (IFFMAS) and the Conceptual Martial Arts Society (CMAS), Inc. The grandmaster's martial art history and style was first put to writing by Rev. Fr. Jerson Balitor (D: 2010), then Parish Priest of Brgy. Ma-ao, Bago City, himself a researcher and accomplished martial artist. GM Guarra was first introduced extensively to the general public by Negros’ premier martial arts researcher/historian/writer James U. Sy Jr., Founder/Master of Conceptual Martial Arts Society (CMAS), Inc., through his various works starting with the 3-part series “The Best Arnisadors of Negros: GM Estanislao “Eslao” T. Guarra” which was published on the May 16-22, 2004 issue of Negros Weekly and culminating with the international feature “Guarra Style Modern Arnis: Modern Style Rooted in Tradition” published in the Vol. 10 No. 4 issue (2006) of the Rapid Journal, the one and only and longest running martial arts publication in the Philippines. Arnisadors who attended his 80th birthday celebration were his brother Founder/Grandmaster Isaac “Saac” T. Guarra of Arjuka-Malingin, Atty. Col. Founder/Grandmaster Marcelo D. Jalandoon, Ph.d., of Negros Occidental Baston Federation (NOBF), Inc., 1st generation Inheritor/Grandmaster Benefredo “Bebing” Mamar Lobrido of Original Filipino Tapado Long Stick Fighting Association (OFTLSFA), Inc., Founder/Grandmaster Felix A. Guinabo of Guinabo Arnis and Combat Sports (GACS), and Master Sy. On a related note, the bungkag lalaw of GM Guarra's late wife, Perla Guarra, was held in conjunction with the Brgy. Lag-asan Fiesta at the Guarra Residence last May 26, 2013. Mrs. Guarra's interment was at the Divine Mercy Church in Calumangan, Bago City and burial at the Bago City Public Cemetery on January 15, 2012. The affair was attended by not less than 200 people.

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