Originally posted in the Eskrima Digest; a great FMA resource.
From: Ray Terry <email@example.com>
To: firstname.lastname@example.org (Eskrima)
Date: Wed, 9 Oct 2002 15:23:39 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: [Eskrima] GGM Pedoy
Interview with Derobio’s GreatGrandMaster Braulio Pedoy, from 1977.
(FAH = Fighting Arts of Hawaii)
FAH: Where in the Philippines did you come from?
PEDOY: I came from Ormoc, Leyte.
FAH: When did you come to Hawaii?
PEDOY: I arrived in 1924. My destination was Olaa Plantation on the Big Island.
FAH: Why did you come to Hawaii?
PEDOY: My friend told me, “We go Hawaii. Hawaii is good — easy to make
money.” The temptation was in my mind, a conflict already with what my
Master told me on how I should live my life.
FAH: So you worked the plantations all your life?
PEDOY: No, I spent many years as a fisherman, and during the WWII, I was a
security guard for the Army. After that, I worked 11 years for Gaspro.
>From that time until now, I haven’t worked. That is my history from the
time I came to Hawaii. But if you go to my history in the Philippines,
there is a whole different story to tell. I went from island to island,
like my Master told me, to further my studies in Escrima. In every village,
there are different movements and counters. Kali has very different
movements than Derobio.
FAH: How long did you go from island to island?
PEDOY: Over three years.
FAH: How old were you when you did this?
PEDOY: I was 17 years old. I was 20 when I decided to go to Hawaii.
FAH: How long had you been training with your Master?
PEDOY: Since I was 6 years old until I was 17. And from there I went island
to island. First, however, my Master told me to study about the ocean, and
of the philosophy of the sea. If you were to climb to the top of a tree and
look into the ocean, you would see different shades of blue. The darker the
blue, the deeper the water. In the lighter areas it is shallow, rough, and
noisy. Many are at this level, close-minded people with conflicting goals
in life who tend to use their mouths loosely. We must look towards the
deeper water where it is calm and peaceful, where your morals run deep and
only pure thoughts come out of your mouth. Thus, you can observe for
yourself what is shallow and what is deep. In every one of us the Lord
provided seven gateways for us to observe the environment. Each of us has
two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, and a mouth. Only the mouth can get us
into serious trouble with our fellow man — thus, one should be very careful
in what one says. Give good advice, don’t lie, and never gossip, for it
might not be true. Then you can get your humbleness from that.
FAH: When you came to Hawaii, were you a Master already?
PEDOY: Yes, I had developed already. I had been all over the Philippine
FAH: How did you meet your Master?
PEDOY: My father was a very mean person. Everyday he gave me lickings. So,
at 6 years of age, I ran away. I went along the main trail until I came to
a fork in it; one way to the big city, the other to the mountains. If I was
to go to town, my father might still yet catch me, so I went the other way.
I just walked with no destination. I just walked, walked, and walked. For
4 days, I roamed the forest. Then I saw a small shack where someone had, at
one time or another, built a fire. So I sat down and waited, for I thought
to myself, someone lives in this place, thank God. Later in the evening,
that man came back, and he was very surprised to see me. He asked how I had
come to this place, and I pointed to the pass in the mountains I had come
through. He said, “I know other people come from the opposite way to this
place, but no one can pass through your way — it’s too dangerous.”
FAH: What was so dangerous about the pass?
PEDOY: There were plenty of poisonous snakes that get bigger than men. But
at the time, I didn’t see any snakes during the day and at night I climbed
high into the branches of the trees. My Master told me, “God guided you to
me. He wanted you to learn how to defend yourself — so he brought you to
me, for that is the talent I have to give to you.”
FAH: What was your Master doing in this out-of-the way place?
PEDOY: My Master was a wanted man with a large reward offered for him.
That’s why he hid deep in the forest. He was a general during the
revolution against the Spanish. and again later during the Filipino-American
War. When the United States won and the Filipinos were required by law to
salute the American flag, he would not. To the Filipino flag, he would
salute, but to no other country’s flag he would show respect. Too many of
his men had died fighting for independence in the battlefields. That’s why
the authorities put him in jail. That man had great powers — no jail could
hold him. The guards were there, yet no one saw him escape.
FAH: And he went to the mountains?
PEDOY: Yes, he ran away to the forest. He was a man of great powers, powers
he received from heaven through his prayers. Snakes wouldn’t go near him,
animals wouldn’t eat the rice he planted. There was plenty of wild boars,
deer, and birds. But nothing touched his rice. We wouldn’t chase them away
either, just leave them alone. And when it was time to harvest, we would
thank the Lord for our food. See what power’s he had?
FAH: So when you were 17, you left your Master?
PEDOY: Yes, but before I was to return to civilization, I was told to study
the movements of the trees and of the ocean, to observe carefully the
motions of the branches in the wind. You must be able to get away from the
force of the blow and return to an equal, balanced position. Thus, to be an
Escrimador you have to carefully study the land and sea while also searching
for those unusual things in nature God has created. After 11 years, I went
back to my father’s place.
FAH: Did your father recognize you after 11 years?
PEDOY: Yes, he tried to hit me with a stick. I just took it away. I didn’t
hit him back. He asked me how I survived all these years. I told him I
found a man and we lived together in the forest. I stayed two or three
weeks with my father, then I went away. I didn’t tell him that I was going
from island to island to practice, I just left. He never learned anything
of what I had learned.
FAH: Didn’t you regret leaving your Master after 11 years?
PEDOY: My Master told me that this was no place for me to live all of my
life. He said I would have to leave after my examination.
FAH: What examination?
PEDOY: My final test to become Master of the Derobio system of Escrima.
Each of us had two sharp bolo knives. We were to fight in actual combat.
My Master told me, “If you can kill me, kill me. I in turn will try my best
to kill you. If either of us gets wounded badly, the other has to kill him
because there is no doctor, we would only suffer. So better defend yourself
well, or else.” Before the examination, I prayed for days, asking my Lord
Jesus Christ, to protect me. The battle was long and tiring; each of us
used our best fakes and counters. When it was over, he was unhurt, whereas
I suffered cuts on my hands and face. But only the tip of his bolos cut me,
not deep enough that I let down my defense.
FAH: When was the first time anyone knew you were a Master in Escrima?
PEDOY: Oh, I never showed anyone I knew Escrima. But when there was
trouble, my neighbors found out I knew how to defend myself. Especially
with newly-arrived Filipinos, when there was trouble, out came the knife.
When they would use it, I would take it away. That’s how they know I know
Escrima. But I never taught anybody before, only Eddie (his son).
FAH: And that was the first time you taught?
PEDOY: Yes, the first person I taught was my son, and only after he had
taken Karate. One time, however, some officers of the Honolulu Police
Department asked to learn. I showed them how easy it was for me to hit them
with my sticks. Soon they stopped coming over. Do you know why I started
training Eddie? Because I thought to myself about the Chinese martial art
of Kung Fu, about the Japanese with their Judo and Karate, and about the
Americans with their boxing. I know the Filipino community in Hawaii has
some good Escrimadors, but they never show or share their talent. That’s
why I began teaching Eddie — so that we could preserve a valuable part of
the Filipino culture and heritage, and to give an opportunity to the younger
Filipinos who don’t have Escrimadors in their families a chance to learn
Escrima, thereby increasing their pride in themselves and their heritage. I
then told Eddie to find instructors and to teach them well. Teach them to
pray, because that is also an important part of being an Escrimador. And
when you get your instructors ready, open a public Filipino Martial Arts
School. That is how our school began over five years ago, when we first
opened in Waipahu. Today I have nine full instructors under my son, who of
course is my chief instructor.