Friday, April 18, 2014

Antonio Ilustrisimo - Orascion/Anting-anting on Good Friday

Forgive the lousy pic and bad photoshop skills to bring out the Anting-anting tattooed on Antonio Ilustrisimo's chest.
Source photo: Mark Wiley's Filipino Martial Culture

Today is Good Friday. Anyone with a familiarity of the Filipino Martial Arts should've heard of the great Antonio Ilustrisimo (a.k.a. "Tatang", a term used by his students, which means "father".) He was a famed Eskrimador/Arnisador for having survived countless Death Matches as well as never losing a match.

Please read on to see what his secret was and what it has to do with Good Friday.

Anting-anting are amulets held on or in the body that possess the power of the spirit world and offer courage and protection to their bearer. Oracion are prayers or incantations, generally in an admixture of Latin and native Filipino dialects, that do much the same. The difference between them is that anting-anting are generally only able to protect the bearer or give him courage, while oracion can do that in addition to weakening the opponent, breaking his fighting spirit, or forcing him to drop his weapon.

Antonio Ilustrisimo was a staunch believer in such things and possessed both. Regarding such things, Good Friday is the solemn day for arnisadors who are masters of oracion, that is, those who are able to control the spirit world through their charms and prayers. It is on this day that they test whether they still have their power, or whether they have lost it.

Every year on Good Friday, Tatang would wander to a deserted field followed by both believers and skeptics. he would prop up pieces of paper on which he had written incantations. He would then invite anyone with a gun (and many people carry them in the Phillipines) to shoot at the paper at point-blank range. Amazingly, no one ever succeeded in hitting the target with their bullets, despite the barrel of their gun touching it.

When one of the shooters was asked what he felt when shooting at the paper, he replied, "Nothing extraordinary happens while one is aiming at the paper. But the moment one pulls the trigger, an invisible force tugs the barrel of the gun aside and makes one miss. Sometimes the gun would refuse to fire altogether." If oracion can keep bullets from hitting their intended target, even a sharp blade poses no real threat to the eskrimador who possesses them.

Antonio Ilustrisimo would go home to recite his oracion twice a day at specified times - every day without fail. He also had his anting-anting tattooed on his chest so that it would forever be a part of him. During his fights, he would mentally recite his oracion. Given that he never lost a match - friendly or to the death - one has a difficult time just dismissin such things. As a testament to his uncanny powers, Antonio Diego is also a true believer and possessor of both anting-anting and oracion, and has also not lost a match.

I typed the above up from:

The Secrets of Kalis Ilustrisimo: The Filipino Fighting Art Explained
by Antonio Diego & Christopher Ricketts
Tuttle Publishing
Copyright 1999
Chapter 9: Spiritual Fortitude
Pages 217-218

Photo credit:

Excerpted from Krishna Godhania's interview with Romy Macpagal, one of Antonio Ilustrimo's students:

9. Tatang Ilustrisimo was reputed to possess both anting anting and orascion, did you witness any demonstations of his powers?

I have seen both anting-anting and oracion in operations. Many do not seem to work but those that do evoke wonder in even among avid researchers into the paranormal. Let me cite a few instances. Before Tatang’s health deteriorated in 1992 his mind was very sharp and focused, his will power tremendous. On good Fridays we would go to empty lots to tests his powers. On a sheet of bond paper, Tatang would scribble a few orascions and have it set up for a target. Now, I and my two elder sons are competent shots but at a distance of five meters we were only shooting around that 8′ x 11′ sheet of paper, knicking its edges only at 3 meters. Good sight pictures, good squeeze, good ammo, but could not hit the target. Whatever the mechanism, it worked.

After the dreams mentioned earlier, Tatang got a small pocket notebook and a lead pencil, brought me to a far corner of Luneta and told me to write oracions as he dedicated them including the instances for their use. Now, I am quite sceptical but acquiesced out of respect for Tatang’s good intentions. After that, for a period of two years I did not get cut. Now this is not unusual for most people but in my case I am a part time blade smith and in that period was prolific, polishing and sharpening blades by hand. Unconsciously I was handling blades without respect, grabbing at dropped blades etc, and did not receive a cut when previously, I was the corner stores main buyer of band-aids.

Only Tatang could cut me in practice or demonstrations, thin scratches which bled well. I was also doing very poorly financially during this time, a fact noted by an uncle, who asked me if I had or “wore” “armadura”-armor. I said no but commented that I was not getting wounded when I should. The uncle advised me to get rid of the armadura put on me by Tatang which I did. Right after my finances improved and I could get wounded in playing or when working on blades.

For other entries about Anting-anting/Orascion, please check out:

NOTES: Posted April 21, 2014 and backdated to Good Friday, April 18, 2014. Such is the Life of a Family Man. Day off from work and spent with family having fun and neglected to post this properly on the day of.



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