By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter

THE Philippine national kendo team is set to compete in Indonesia later this week at the 12th ASEAN Kendo Tournament (AKT) with an eye on doing better from its performance last time around in the meet.

The 29-man Philippine contingent will pit its skills in the Japanese martial art which uses bamboo swords with their Southeast Asian counterparts from Aug. 9 to 11 in Jakarta.

Team members said they are expecting a tough challenge in the tournament but is undeterred by it and that they are looking forward to going out there and showcasing what they are capable of and further underscoring that Filipinos can do well in kendo on the international stage.

Competing for the second time in the tournament, Matthew Arce, team captain of the men’s team, said he is confident of doing well in this edition of the competition which happens every three years.

“This is going to be my second time competing for the team. That being said, I now know what to expect. The first time (in 2016), while I did not do really bad, I was still feeling my way out there. But this time I already know what to expect and I’m sharing that with my teammates,” said Mr. Arce, a 3-dan kendoka and who has been doing kendo for 14 years now, in an interview with BusinessWorld.

He shared that he has been training hard for months to be on top of his game both physically and mentally for the tournament.

Mr. Arce, who is also a practicing dentist and got into kendo because of his love for samurai movies and Japanese swords, said in kendo nothing is etched in stone and anything can happen but they are nonetheless aiming high.

2-dan kendoka Melduen Castillon is part of the Philippine women’s team seeing action at the 12th ASEAN Kendo Tournament. — (MELDUEN CASTILLON FACEBOOK PAGE)

“We are aiming high. Anything can happen in the competition but our goal is to better than last time. From my end, I’m not promising anything but I enter the tournament now more confident,” he said.

For 2-dan Melduen Castillo of the women’s team, while she is competing in the ASEAN tournament for the first time, the mindset for her is not only to participate but actually to compete.

“This is my first time and I am really excited to be competing with fellow Filipinos. My mindset is not only to go there for experience but to actually compete. I’m really looking forward to representing the Philippines well,” said Ms. Castillon, an interior design student at the Philippine School of Interior Design who began doing kendo back in 2013 in Singapore.

Bannering the Philippines at the 12th AKT is a mix of veterans and rookies culled from the different kendo clubs in the country, said Kristopher Inting, delegation head.

Apart from Mr. Arce and Ms. Castillon, kendokas selected by the United Kendo Federation of the Philippines to be part of the team are Vince Hernandez (3-dan), Elvin Villarama (2-dan), Emerson Sy (3-dan), Jerome Martin Bautista (2-dan), Joshua Romeo Espiritu (3-dan), Mike Logarta (2-dan), Paul Minoza (3-dan), Rocky Sison (2-dan), Robert Carabuena (1-dan), Trey Dela Cruz (3-dan), Ronald Villaroya (3-dan), Steven Canete (1-dan), Argelyn Mercado (3-dan), Anna Mae Cuadrante (1-dan), Fides Descada (3-dan), Kathryn Layno (1-dan), Loida Estanilla Inting (4-dan), Odessa Acedillo (1-dan), Reida Jade Renovilla (1-dan), Tamorah Mae Sison (2-dan), Veejay Joson (1-dan) and Verns Buckley (2-dan).

Also part of the contingent to the AKT are Akita Tomoyuki (coach), Fuji Satoshi (coach), Mr. Inting, Sakuhara Iku (coach) and Takaku Ryutaro (coach).

An offshoot of kenjutsu, or the term use for the different schools of Japanese swordsmanship, kendo, which translates to “way of the sword,” involves two swordsmen squaring off against each other in a simulated battlefield.

In place of actual metal swords, kendo uses bamboo ones known as shinai for striking and protective armor known as bogu.