Issue of October 18, 2020
Mt. Province
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An introduction to the BIBAK Fencing Club
Stella Maria L. de Guia
“Creativity is the essence of fencing” -- Charles Allen.

I remember when I was young, we used to play eskrima, eskrima (double emphasis on weapon-based fighting with sticks and various improvised weapons). Even then kids would harness their traditional creativity by using walis, bamboo or any left-over wooden retasos.

Fencing training at BIBAK Hall along Harrison Road, Baguio City.

That was the era of rubber bands, marbles (holens) and gagamba (spider) matches.Fencing was a sport of the rich and famous and mostly seen in duels in the movies and national heroes who studied abroad. But young children have their way of entertaining themselves.

This amazement in fencing was awaken when I saw the pictures of the BIBAK Fencing Club in Baguio. They looked so regal, that I immediately got in touch with Michael Bugnosen, the grandson of former City Mayor Jaime Bugnosen to inquire about this lifestyle.

Michael or “Mike” Bugnosen belongs to the HEMA or Historical European Martial Arts Philippines. Mike and his colleagues founded the BIBAK Fencing Club in Baguio last February. It deals more on true edge long sword training. He has a lot of interest though on Filipino martial arts (FMA). According to research, “FMA refers to ancient Malay and newer modified fighting methods devised in the Philippines which incorporates elements from both western and eastern martial arts. The most popular forms of which are known as arnis, eskrima, and kali.” 

The BIBAK Fencing Club is headed by Quintin Tanseco as president ( he trained at the Academia Duello HEMA institute Canada and the Kalis Magani of Sala De Armas Filipinas), Christian Bugnosen as vice president, Doyle Intas as secretary general and Rodz Arreola as treasurer. The board of directors is chaired by Michael with Prince Braganza, Sonny Bugnosen and Cyril Chayocas.

The BIBAK Fencing Club members strike a pose. From left to right:  Kneeled position: Doyle Intas; squatting: Michael Bugnosen and Quintin Tanseco,  and standing: Cyril Chayocas, Sonny Bugnosen, and Christian Bugnosen.

The young Prince, funny how his stately name dovetails with fencing, gave us an explanation of how the club started, “From what I remember, Bibak fencing started early February of this year, when my circle of friends started with sir Michael before inviting me. The group started with sparring sessions between enthusiasts like us, then moved on to more formal trainings. We now have our instructor from Canada in Quintin Tanseco. I only joined around August when things calmed down a bit during the pandemic. I believe our general motivation was our love for swordsmanship inspired by video games, movies and history channels. We wanted to give our hand in imitating these awesome skills that led to our group being formed.”

When asked about the pandemic and how it helps members, Prince continued: “Training with the sport is one way where I could release pent up frustration from the pandemic. I personally feel more alive going outside twice a week for training. The sport is ideal for the pandemic because it is a non-contact sport. We don’t need to hold or have contact with anyone in this sport. Our training swords are long enough to maintain social distance, and that distance is all you need when we spar together.”

HEMA Philippines stated, “Here in the Philippines we are lucky that we have living traditions with roots in HEMA. Though greatly altered in context, movement, weapons and application in most cases. Some systems maintain valuable overlap for both FMA and HEMA purist and idealist.”

What are the protective gears being used for fencing sport? Martin Fabian explains and enumerates the following HEMA gears: in-door shoes, breathable fencing pants, plastic chest cover, fencing jackets, sparring gloves, leather gloves, forearm protector, fencing masks and the different long swords and sabers and shin guards.

Likewise, professional mixed martial artist Eric Kelly explains the importance of the protocols of mindset, keeping distance, use of protective equipment and gears like mask, gloves and the long swords.

Michael and Christian Bugnosen with fencing instructor Quintin Tanseco at the center.

I asked Mike what members can learn from the sport. He said: “What the young people can gain from this sport is discipline. One cannot carelessly charge into the opponent. It serves as a good lesson for history of the Medieval times in Europe and other western countries. There are two things you learn from the sport: fun and discipline. Nowadays, we use both plastic longswords and wooden kendo swords. We pioneered HEMA in Baguio.”

Mike is a student of HEMA as of the moment with no firearms and tactical edge weapons. He is learning deep HEMA techniques and integrates it with kali.

“HEMA is a wonderful sport,” Prince said. He added: “You can engage in it amidst the pandemic. You can learn how to swing swords despite your age, gender, and body type. It is a sport that encourages and involves a lot of thinking to win. Most importantly, it is a sport where you can have fun.”

Craig Harkins pointed out the mental aspects of fencing and the ability to impose their will on a bout, to keep calm and the ability to adjust in-bout tactics as reasons for success in his Fencing.Net.

For those interested you may get in touch with Mike at mobile number 0927-146-4574 or visit them at their Salas de Armas at the BIBAK Fencing Club atBIBAK Hall - Harrison Road or by contacting any of the members. It is free of charge but limited to only 10 persons at a time and open to all genders with no age limit.

On guard!

The nine-second kiss: A COVID-19 wedding
Nonnette C. Bennett
There are untold blessings in this Covid-19 pandemic, even in the postponement of weddings. We never knew what would happen when the world came to a grinding halt. It must have been an ordeal to have come so close then uncertainty struck and the marriage between two young doctors was suspended with no sandglass to measure time. Even the parents were quarantined in Canada until recently. In these pandemic times, the wedding finally got an outpouring of blessings with the opening of the checkpoints to welcome family from everywhere. The dream came true for Paul Justin Belvis and Margarette Martin on Oct. 12 with a nine seconds kiss to seal it.

Parents of the bride Judelyn and Dean Martin wait for the bride with family and the wedding entourage in the church while abiding by the health protocols required by the church.

Rev. Fr. Vic Munar officiated the most touching and intimate rite at the St. Joseph Parish Church in Pacdal, Baguio City.

Teary meet as the bride, Margarette, and sister to be, Melissa Comia, see each other during the bridal march.

Reminiscing the excitement of Justin and Margarette when they asked if he could join them in matrimony on April 21,he said he was overjoyed when they saw him again to ask if he could bless them. It was he who said that the wait and the final moment to declare that they were one should be the longest kiss because it took them more than nine years to walk down the aisle and make a promise to God that they will love each other forever. He said unless they fulfilled this, he would not sign their contract.

Dr. Margarette Martin Belvis and Dr. Paul Justin Belvis waited six months to finally wed on Oct. 12 after the April 21 indefinite postponement.

“What is meant to be, is meant to be,” said Fr. Vic during the homily. He joked that even the storm could not stop the ceremony with the basketful of eggs offered to St. Mary. Indeed, with the principal sponsors, groomsmen, bridesmaids, parents, siblings, and a handful of friends, the church protocols allowed less than a hundred people in to witness the rites, replete with fashionable face masks and face shields. Even the troop of photographers had their white personal protective equipment.

The longest kiss that lasted more than nine seconds to symbolize the nine years that took them to march down the aisle together.

He noticed that most eyes were tearful before and during the wedding. To this he said, “Tears are a kind of prayer that only God understands.” For the couple, he encouraged them to transform themselves totally because they are to build each other and live in each other. To fall in love with each other non-stop, to take care of the roots if they want their tree to continue bearing fruits and build their love where people love them, were the other messages.

Rev. Fr. Vic Munar behind the couple during the offertory.

In his vows, Paul Justin said that Margarette had made him into “a better version of himself” with the kindness she had shown him since they were together at med school. He said he knew that she was the one because “the happier you were, the happier I was.” He promised, “To forgive and console, now we are whole.”

Masked and stylish mother Melissa and Georgina Riley Comia in Covid-19 wedding protocol.

Margarette said that Paul used to sit in front of her at the laboratory and now he was standing in front of the altar with her. She said, “I am certain that you will be a great partner to fulfill our dreams.” She added she will support the gaming sessions only during their free time but most of all, “I promise to be a safe place.”

Welcoming the newest member of the family are the Comias, George, Melissa, Riley, Chloe, and Andy, the Belvises June, Fidel, and Bryan.

For the fulfilment of love in these Covid-19 times, patience has had its best test. The long wait of six months finally started a life together after the long kiss that lasted more than nine seconds to mark the next ninety or so years that this ceremony will be remembered.

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