President Gloria Arroyo recently signed into law Senate Bill 1424, authored by Majority Leader Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri.
Here’s are some PDFs on the bill.
According to the documents I’ve seen, the bill dictates that:
1) April will henceforth be “Arnis and Kali month”, and will require all educational institutions and public offices throughout all the provinces of the country to support the celebrations through related activities. Among these institutions is the Philippine Sports Commission and the Department of Education.
2) Arnis will be integration in the Physical Education curriculum of schools all over the country, in primary, secondary, and tertiary public and private schools.
This bill is long overdue, a much needed boost to the Filipino Martial Arts. It’s about time that we finally get official recognition for our martial culture. This will undoubtedly help make Filipinos more aware of their heritage, one that they should be as proud of as the boxing excellence of Manny Pacquiao.
I contacted Senator Zubiri to suggest that the "Arnis and Kali" month be changed to "Filipino Martial Arts" month. This is so those who use the word "escrima" won't feel left out, and it deflects another potential cause of debate. This way the cause of promoting and reviving FMA here keeps going forward instead of being bogged down by arguments and politics.
I’m certain that some systems will not want to participate in any sport form of FMA. That’s fine and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Like all martial arts that have a sport version, certain changes will surely be made in the transition from traditional fighting systems to a sport and some will rather not change the way they train.
What’s important is that there’s now a law dictating that arnis is the national sport. This should have a favorable effect on all the systems. I’m just hoping that the Modern Arnis and the different systems that will take part in meeting the sudden demand for instructors in schools will have enough qualified teachers.
This is a huge step forward for FMA and I'm hoping that it's followed by action to make the most of this opportunity.