By Sonia Ahmed | 12 September 2020
Renowned as the queen of the South, Cebu is the port capital and the oldest city in Cebu province. Located in the Central Visayas, it’s the country’s most developed area, touted as the next tourism and business destination.
Cebu has made into TripAdvisor 2020’s top 25 premier destinations with its natural islands, pristine beaches, magical waterfalls, and the surreal experience of diving alongside the sharks.
Being home to Simala Shrine, it’s also a pilgrimage center for Marian devotees worldwide and an ideal place for meditation.
Martial artists are also drawn to Cebu because of its fame as the Arnis capital of the world. Also known as Kali or Eskrima, Arnis is the country’s national sport. Today Arnis practitioners look at Cebu as the most authentic site to master this multi-styled defense system.
Rapidly Growing Fame of Arnis and Filipino Culture
Arnis started as a self-defense strategy for Filipinos when they used widely practiced traditional stick fighting to defend their homes against foreign invaders laced with modern weapons.
Today, Arnis is part of Filipino culture and is practiced in every home. According to Cordero, the organizer of the 15th World Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation (WEKAF) World Championship, “To promote Arnis is to promote the Filipino culture.”
Filipino Arnis athletes swept the 2019 Southeast Asian Games and became the only country to win 16 gold medals. This notable victory is yet another reason Cebu is catching fame as the world capital of Arnis.
Today, modern Arnis is receiving tremendous attention at the international level. Mentors like Bruce H. Chiu and Master Gabriele Roloff carried it to the US and Europe following the teachings of the founder of modern Arnis.
Given the international fame, the Philippines Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation (PEKAF) decided to hold the 16th World Eskrima Kali Arnis Federation (WEKAF) World Championship in Cebu which led to a rapid increase in Cebu tourism.
Swim With the Sharks at Cebu
Cebu Island might be the only place in the world where you can swim alongside the sharks. Head over to the nearby Lapu-Lapu city, only 50 minutes’ drive away. The experienced divers at Lakbay Pinas watch over you all the time as you swim beside the enormous white sharks. They’re so close to you, you could touch them!
Back in the city, Budlaan Falls is a Cebu island’s hidden gem. Here you can dive in the cold waterfall, listen to the melodiously chirping birds hidden in the lush green trees, and enjoy calm and tranquility away from hectic city life.
The main Cebu City with all its Arnis dojos is only half an hour’s drive away from the falls. While you can choose to practice Arnis at any of the different Arnis institutes, the Cacoy Canete Doce Pares (CCDP) is perhaps the oldest and most revered institute of all.
It’s named after the late legendary teacher and world-class Arnis practitioner, the Supreme Grand Master (SGM) Cacoy Canete.
Recognized by the Filipino state, CCDP is the headquarters of all affiliated martial arts clubs teaching Doce Pares. It focuses on stick fighting and bare-hand combat techniques.
Just around the corner is the Cebu’s fastest roller coaster rides at Sky Experience Adventure. It’s an excellent place to burn off adrenaline and enjoy the sky bar, sky lounge, cliff hanger, and many more exciting rides.
Cacoy Canete - Eskrima Star And Martial Arts Legend
Born and raised in Cebu, SGM Cacoy Canete was a quick learner. He started practicing Arnis at a very young age and had become an amateur boxer and an extensive Arnis practitioner by his thirties.
Cacoy Canete had the honor of getting extensive training from Master Yuichi Hirose, the Japanese Kodokan Judo expert. In time, grandmaster Cacoy Canete became 12th dan in Eskrima, Eskrido, and Pangamot, 6th Dan in Karate and Aikido, and 8th Dan in Jiu-Jitsu and Judo.
Eskrima ran in his blood as he and all his brothers learned Eskrima from their father and uncles who were the greatest masters of their time. Cacoy won many national and international tournaments and remained undefeated throughout his career.
He was the only Eskrima practitioner invited to the World Ancient Martial Arts Festival in 1988. He penned down his knowledge and experience in many books, out of which
Pangamot, Eskrima-Arnis Techniques, and Olisi-Baraw became extremely popular. Although Cacoy Canete died in 2016, his legacy lives on. The Canete family and his students are still involved in the upkeep of Cacoy Canete Doce Pares and keep the international Eskrima fraternity together. A movie project is underway to pay honor to his services to Arnis and other sports.
Did you know, Cacoy Canete’s dojo was also featured in the BBC documentary, Way of the Warrior, in 1982? This dojo is across the street from his residence in Cebu. He used to train there in his days, and you can also train in the footsteps of this great master in his dojo on your next trip to Cebu.