Last October 19th, 2013, I had my final belt test (Brown 1) for the year. Master Nilo Baron, visiting from the Sacramento Branch of Doce Pares, took charge of testing all the Brown belts.
Master Erwin (in red on the left) and Master Nilo (in red on the right) with the Doce Pares Torrance group
I felt unprepared for the belt test, as I had only learned about it a month and a half ago, on top of which I just had some dental implant surgery two weeks before the belt test. But I tried to do my best.
The scariest and yet most exciting part of the belt test was the multiple attackers portion. Brown belts are expected to know how to defend against many attackers, and we were tested on this knowledge. You can see me in the video below, using some empty hand techniques to defend against knife attacks.
Although we take our lessons seriously, we also know how to have fun. So after the grueling 4-hour exam, we posed for photos and shared boxes of pizza for lunch.
But the day didn’t end there. That evening, we met up once more—in a more social setting, to celebrate the 9th anniversary of the founding of Doce Pares Los Angeles.
Past and present members, along with family members and supporters, gathered in Long Beach to join in the fun.
As with any Filipino gathering, food was in abundance.
They even served some roast pig, a staple in big Filipino gatherings, which they had cooked from scratch.
roast pig, Filipino style
There was lots of merry-making, including a toast led by Guro (Instructor) Gary.
And of course, no Filipino gathering is complete without some karaoke.
Karaoke sessions at Filipino parties are always a great source of entertainment. Filipinos love to sing, and they take karaoke rather seriously. They sing songs with great gusto and always give the performance of their lives. I never appreciated how true this was until I attended the party last Saturday. I was blown away by the talent in the room. Every single person who took up the microphone that night had a beautiful voice and seemed to be well practiced at the art of karaoke.
Attending the Doce Pares anniversary party was a fun experience. It reminded me of all the gatherings I’d attended back home in the Philippines, and the get togethers I have with my family and other Filipino friends. There’s always tons of food for you to feast on, and lots left over to take home; there’s singing and dancing and general merry-making.
That’s one of the things I love about Doce Pares—being part of this martial art group feels more like being part of a typical Filipino family. Whether the members know you personally or through a common friend they will always give you a warm welcome and will always, always make you feel at home.
Which is why the news of Super Typhoon Haiyan (aka Yolanda), has hit me hard.
Half of the people who see in the picture above have friends and family who were affected by the storm. Why? Because the Doce Pares martial arts system was born in Cebu, which is located in the central part of the Philippines. The part which was devastated by the strongest, most violent storm ever recorded in human history.
My own relatives and friends are mostly in Manila and its surrounding areas, and they were thankfully not affected by the storm. But my other adopted family, the Doce Pares family, has had to deal with friends and relatives back home who have lost homes and loved ones.
News continue to pour in about the devastation wrought by the massive storm. According to some reports, some villages in the central part of the Philippines, may literally have been wiped off the map.
9.5 million people were affected by the storm. At least 600,000 were evacuated from their homes. Tacloban, a city home to more than 220,000 people was drowned by 40 foot waves. 10,000 people are reported dead in just one area, with possibly thousands more missing.
It’s bad enough that a massive earthquake had hit the same area a few months back. Some villages remain unreachable so the full extent of Super Typhoon Haiyan’s damage is yet to be known.
Any help you can give will go a long way to helping the typhoon victims piece their lives back together.
Here’s a list of the few organizations who take donations for those affected by the typhoon in the Philippines.
And here are some links to more organizations you can send donations to:
Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and while we give thanks for the lucky lives we lead, I hope we can also share a bit of our good fortune with the hundreds of thousands of super typhoon survivors who will not have an semblance of a holiday this year, or the next.
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