Participants in the making of the Filipino American martial arts heritage film “The Bladed Hand.”
By CARLOS GALLEGO
AAP staff writer
Federico Malibago, a Filipino American martial artist from Minnesota, appears in the “The Bladed Hand”, a first of its kind documentary on Filipino martial arts that will begin screening Oct. 28, 2012 at The Parkway Theater in Minneapolis.
“The Bladed Hand” examines the secret world of Filipino Martial Arts (FMA, also known also known as “Arnis”, “Eskrima” and “Kali”. Together these age-old fight systems have transformed the traditional fighting styles once used for tribal defense it to the today’s world, including law enforcement training and the martial arts culture worldwide.
“The film was made as a labor of love and not by a giant studio,” said Malibago.
It was out of dedication to Filipino martial arts as a cultural heritage that Malibago said he dedicated his own resources to host as director and the video.
FMA is prevalent in many notable martial arts classics, however, most viewers, even martial arts aficionados, may not realize that in movies such as Bruce Lee’s “Enter the Dragon” and many Jason Bourne movies where FMA techniques are present.
Military and law enforcement organizations throughout the world have been trained in Filipino Martial Arts because of the effectiveness of their technique. Many martial arts school also incorporate these techniques in their teachings.
Yet, in the land of their birth, the arts still largely remain in a secretive and arcane world, existing in the periphery of a modernizing developing country that often seeks to embrace foreign values and culture, while neglecting its own.
The documentary brings FMA’s story to its birthplace and documents the pride and interest in an art that is only now coming to prominence as Filipinos are realizing their art form is having an impact on the martial arts worldwide whether it be in the ring, cinema or in law enforcement.
Film creator and producer Jay Ignacio said the film came about from his interest in this secretive cultural treasure. The film documents FMA’s transformation throughout the world. Ignacio respond to questions from Asian American Press via email.
AAP: What inspired you to do this project?
JI: I study Philippine History in my spare time, and I realized that we have an indigenous martial art that Filipinos look over, while the rest of the world propagates it. I felt compelled to tell the story of FMA so that Filipinos will learn to treasure it.
AAP: What can others learn for you as relates to their own communities?
JI: They can learn that there is more to Filipino culture than just being a conquered people wanting to work or immigrate abroad.
AAP: What is the message you feel the film brings across?
JI: Based on the reactions at the Press Premiere last July 7, and the succeeding screenings, people understood my message that the Filipino Martial Arts are a significant part of our cultural identity, and that we should do something to keep it alive.
AAP: How do you think the film will be received by the MN Audience?
JI: I am expecting mixed reactions. Some will love it, for sure, but some will question its validity. I tackled some issues that have long been propagated as historical fact, when in fact, some of that date is questionable, or may need further evidence. And I am sure some will wonder why I left out certain personalities, groups or events in the history of FMA in the Philippines.
AAP: Are there any challenges you had to overcome in the development of the project?
JI: A lot! Some people I wanted to interview did not want to be interviewed. I’ve not been able to access certain museums and institution, or even certain archival material. I’ve had to make tough decisions regarding the editing (what to keep, and what to leave out). I’ve even received death threats.
AAP: Do you have any upcoming projects in addition to this one that you have completed?
JI: I have not completed any other documentary yet, but I started researching on the other subjects that I will produce documentaries on. They are all about the other Filipino cultural treasures not related to FMA.
AAP: If people want to know more where should they go?
JI: At the moment, the official website is still under construction, but they can join our Facebook Group Page (just search The Bladed Hand), or follow us on Twitter (@thebladedhand).
For more information visit http://theparkwaytheater.com/