DUMAGUETE CITY – Pencak Silat, considered by its framers as the mother of all martial arts and a mass base sports, is gaining headway with more than 170 participants in this year’s Philippine National Games (PNG) held in Dumaguete and Negros Oriental.
Celia Kiram, Philippine Pencak Silat Association secretary general, said the sports was introduced in the country even before the coming of the Spaniards in the 13th century, but was unpopular to many because it was perceived as a Muslim sport but which is actually not. There is no discrimination as to creed or religion in Pencak Silat, Kiram pointed out.
This is the second participation of the Pencak Silat association in the PNG with over 37 countries in Europe and Southeast Asia already playing the sport, which was declared a regular event in the South East Asian Games since 1991.
Pencak Silat is played using a combination of all martial arts techniques, such as catching, sweeping, kicking and punching.
Kiram stressed anybody can participate in the competition, with a lot of street children in the list of their athletes.
She said most members of the national team are coming from the out-of-school youths or street children and now employed with the military.
The Pencak Silat national team garnered six gold medals in the French Open last year in spite of the meager support coming from the government, Kiram disclosed.