My Lola & the Fighting Cañetes

I rarely post pictures of myself and family here but this time I would like to make an exception. This is the most recent photo I have with Lola Nene. Taken last year December. (L to R) Lola, Me, Samboy (my brother) & Aunt Norma

Last year when I visited my last surviving lola we spoke a lot about her memories growing up. She’s the youngest of more than a dozen siblings. I was reminded of her and our conversation when a few weeks ago, an Australian man I’m training with told me about his experience and facsination with “arnis”. I didn’t brought up the stories my Lola had told me because I know little about the history of arnis. Which is a shame really considering I’m related to the originators of this popular style of Filipino martial arts.

Lola Nene being the youngest was taken by her older sister when the war broke out. While her brothers joined the military. Aside from the sister who took her in (my fathers mother), she never got reunited with her other siblings again after the war. What’s sad was that she kept hearing stories about them but never got the chance to see them. She said another reason was that she never had the time to look for them because she had to raise her son alone after the untimely death of her husband (a Cabahug). Today her unico hijo, Uncle Boy, is a speechwriter and a long time professor in PUP.

She told me that one of her brother, Silvestre, was hired to become a top bodyguard of President Osmena. She thought that she’ll meet him in Cebu only to find out that the man moved to the US. Silvestre, along with his brothers, founded the “Doce Pares” style of escrima. She’s unsure if Ciriaco, the lone surviving member of “Doce Pares” (must be in his 90’s) is a cousin or a brothers. Yoling, the eldest, had long passed. He was the leader of the group until his death.

I guess with this post I’m just hoping that someone, a brother or the second generation of Cañetes here and abroad, would stumble across this and find that Lola remembers and thinks of them to this day and wonder, whatever happened to them fighting Cañetes.

Hong Kong
November 2012

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