Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ron Saturno - I am speaking to the children of other Filipino Fathers who practice and love Escrima

At one time Stockton, Ca. had more Filipino's than any where else outside of the Philippines. When I was a child and visited the many farm labor camps surrounding Stockton, Ca. for parties, cock-fights and friendship: They were filled with Filipinos during the various harvest seasons. Asparagus camps were the premier locations for the crack crews of Filipino grass cutters. As the years went slowly by the fields were being worked more and more by farm workers other than Filipinos. There had been a Bracero program that had brought in Mexican laborers. I also saw Middle Eastern laborers brought in. Many years ago there were other laborers from other lands brought in to work in the fertile San Joaquin Valley fields. Farm labor has had a long and illustrious history in the fertile farm lands of California and in other states as well. All of the workers worked long and hard hours for wages that were barely able to keep their families fed and their bills paid. Low pay and no benefits was what farm laborer's had to contend with. Filipinos were strangers in a strange land. When the United Farm Workers Union organized: Many do not know that Filipinos were there as primary organizers from the very beginning. A man could work his whole life in the fields and have next to nothing to show for it. Filipinos tried to fix their plight in legitimate ways. The Filipinos of that bygone era paid in blood, sweat and tears to have earned their place as unknown and barely appreciated men in this great state of California. But they were well honored by those that loved them. When WWII broke out many Filipinos answered the call of duty to defend this great land. They were promised citizenship after the war, which they were later denied after the war. Many do not know that California denied Filipinos the right to wed White women until 1949. Their dark color denied them their right to wed White women, but there skins were heavily darkened from working long hours in the sun to enrich the very men who denied them respect and equality. But they worked through it as most immigrants do. They put their heads down, worked hard and raised families. Their many children in many instances went on to become upstanding members of society. Many of these children got to see their fathers bowed down by age and the many years of stoop labor that their fathers had to endure in the fields. Their Fathers had little to show for years of back breaking labor, but their bent backs. I know these things and remember. I got to see Stockton slowly lose these undervalued members of their community, because of Father Time. Father Time will wait for none of us. I remember the days of old. When I see a child of these immigrants pass away I feel an emptiness in my heart. That child takes many memories with them. That child may be the last living connection with some of those many forgotten immigrants of bygone days. A small piece of history is lost when these connections are broken. One Tony Somera is one of those children who has just passed.

He was a Grand Master and inheritor of the Bahala na System of the late Grand Master Leo Giron. Leo Giron was a decorated combat veteran. He valiantly served the United States of America in WWII. He introduced the Bahala na System of Escrima to Stockton, Ca., after a psychopath murdered many nurses, many years ago. He wanted to teach people how to defend themselves against those who wished to take lives without a just cause. He had a history of trying to fight for and do what was right and just. All of the children raised by Filipino fathers in Stockton, Ca. have a lot of connections between one another. We are the inheritors of the hopes and dreams of our fathers. Their is a lot of shared history between us. When Tony Somera passed away everyone of us should feel the loss and especially other Escrimadors. At times there has been a lot of contention between Escrima Clubs and even their members over the years as well as anger, disgust and outright open hostility. So today I am speaking to the children of other Filipino Fathers who practice and love Escrima.

Isn't it about time that we appreciate the long shared history that we all have between us. Didn't our fathers work and fight for America? Aren't we all Americans yet? Aren't we all worthy of love and compassion and at least of tacit understanding of all of our many faults. I was not a friend of Tony Somera. We were acquaintances who passed each other infrequently and mostly on formal occasions involving Escrima.

But I respected him, because Leo Giron said that he was worthy of respect. Leo Giron earned Tony the right to be respected. So I will try my very best to go to his funeral, just like I went to GM Leo Giron's funeral, because of our shared history. I am saddened by Tony's passing and offer my sincere compassion to those who loved him. An Escrimador has passed, a fellow warrior will not rise again until God raises him. Until then Tony, rest in peace. Just know that there are many others who love the Bahala na System and will do their utmost to keep the art alive and prospering. Bahala na.

Other articles by Master Saturno:


My deepest gratitude to Master Ron Saturno for his kind permission in allowing me to repost his articles to my site. 

You can contact Master Ron Saturno via:

Email:  5masterserrada@gmailNOSPAM.com (take out the "NOSPAM")
Phone:  209-513-8027
Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/ron.saturno



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