“I was happy, of course. We knew we were going for five in a row; we are unaware of anyone else achieving that. As long as we keep chugging and doing what we do we keep putting our best foot forward. It still feels good; it's still a win,” Bautista says.
With this victory, he believes Eskabo is fulfilling its mission to share Filipino martial art culture. “It’s not just about teaching the public self-defense, but also teaching them about Filipino martial arts. And for those who are interested, we teach them about the history, culture, tradition within it.”
He says further: “For the Filipino Americans who are unaware, I think this could mean the world. It could be life changing. A lot of the Filipino Americans that have trained with us have thanked us for the knowledge we have given them. For those who are aware, it validates what they know and gives them something they are proud of.”
Miles Lucas, a senior student who is approaching his fifth year with the school, believes Eskabo’s victory supersedes ethnicities and gives the Filipino American community a source of pride. “I’m not Filipino American, but I think anyone can recognize the significance of Eskabo Daan winning best martial arts in the Bay. It would make me proud if I was Filipino American, and I’m already proud.”
Bautista hopes the school’s victories will bring Filipino martial arts on the same status as its Chinese and Japanese counterparts. “The way I see it, its one small step. If we keep taking those small steps, together the Filipino martial arts community will get FMA to the stage where it can be, and in my opinion, where it should be. It should be there with all the other martial arts, not better or worse, just up there.”
The reason for Eskabo Daan’s success? Its emphasis on family is one that resonates with all its students. Testament to this is the hashtag #EskaboMeansFamily, which has circulated in multiple social media platforms.
Annie Jalota, who has trained with Eskabo Daan for two years, explains that her peers are more than just training partners. “I just don't come to class and then leave. I spend time with them, I get to know them; these are the people I can go to for anything and I trust them with my life. Once you come you stay because it's like your family. That's why Eskabo means family. We will help you grow, we will always be there to support you and we will put you to be your best self. I choose to stay here not only because I believe those things, but also I can see how I have grown in the last two years.”
Lucas explains that his connection to Eskabo is not what he initially sought but has fully embraced. “It was something I did not even expect coming into it, but without a doubt, that's how I feel now. So just on my own personal aspect, I feel that I have gained close family and friends just being here. It's not strict, it's open for anyone just to come in and learn. That's the family atmosphere to me.”
Although Eskabo is celebrating its accomplishments, its members believe their work is far from over. Eskabo Daan continues to “promote and propagate Filipino martial arts worldwide,” one venue at a time.
AJ Ruiz is the Public Relations Manager for Eskabo Daan in San Francisco. He is currently pursuing a Masters Degree in Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University.
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