What were your next steps in Giron Arnis Escrima?
—That is an easy one. I will promote the legacy of GME and GM Tony. I am revamping the Affiliate Program to start a new group through the process. The affiliate program is a great way for a group that is not close to a certified Bahala Na Guro to gain skill in the art. The Bahala Na ® Systems International Affiliate Program. This program consists of instructional uploads, periodic private and group training and supervision under me. The goal is to develop strong fighters in bladed self-defense as well as to produce high-level instructors of the art.
It’s a high-level, fast-paced attribute development curriculum that has proven to result in mastery in long blade, double weapon, knife, stick and blunt weapons and also empty hand techniques.
Also, we are creating kids programs to allow access to the next generation students.
We’ll continue to teach international and locally to aid our friends and students.
Now is the time to show the depth of our Art to the world. We fight in long blade, knife, stick and empty hand. It’s all based on combat proven technique that will save precious life.
Drink from the cup of knowledge; it’s Bahala Na time!
How long did it take you to graduate?
— It took me around three or four years to graduate. But I had it lucky because I had instructors, graduate students, and a dedicated training partner in Guro David Dizon and other OC Underground members, about 10 guys. We trained every day or at least every other day. When we couldn’t train I even had my mom holding a stick ha ha. We tried to go to Stockton once a month at least to see GME and GMT. Also Master Joel Juanitas was always coming down with his son Leo, who was a baby then. MJ was a real inspiration and help to all of us from day one.
You are the second successor of Grand Master Giron. Do you recall a situation with him that characterizes him very well?
— yes I remember one time sitting outside class with GME and he told me about the submarine landing on Luzon in WWII. The submarine was named the “Stingray”. He was laying on top of ammunition crates because there was no room in the sub to stand. At that time they were discovered by a Japanese ship who dropped depth charges on GME’s group. He said it was very violent and he was a little nervous but noticed the captain was smiling. GME’s eyes met the captain’s and the captain gave him a wink and a laugh and so GME went to sleep. He figured all was well since the captain wasn’t worried. They made their landing and the rest is history. Interesting. The next day the same thing happened to another group but their submarine was destroyed in the bombing.
Somewhere along the line of GME telling the story I realized I was suddenly telling GME my life story instead. He had changed the subject of the conversation back to me without my realizing.
That’s what I want to say about GME Giron. GME was a true hero of World War II, and the Last of the Bladed Warriors! He was the coolest guy around and had accomplished truly great things in his life. Yet he was actually more interested in my life, my average life.
The greatness of our GME Giron is that he made other people feel great about themselves and in that way he made other people truly great.
Even using our name “Bahala Na” is not for us to be cool and ride on GME’s coattails. He said Bahala Na is for us to remember the men he fought with who died in battle giving their all for each other and our country. We remember!
What about Grand Master Tony?
— Once GMT saved a guy by CPR, and didn’t tell anyone because he didn’t want any praise for doing the right thing. However he made us all take CPR classes. It was years later when I found out from his coworkers what really happened. He was Humble.
Went into his own seminar unannounced and started asking the students who had never met him why they want to train with a lame instructor like Tony Somera? The poor students were beside themselves trying to convince this crazy man that “GMT” was actually a great person and he should take the class for himself. Finally GMT pointed to his own picture on the flyer calling attention to his image. “Got cha!” he says and what a laugh from all! Always Joyful and Laughing.
At a time when we were desperately in need of funding to pay for some of his expensive medical bills he did a seminar and gave the money back to the host because they had family obligations of a sick child. He said they needed the money much more than we did. He was Thoughtful and Generous.
Organized countless civic projects to improve the Filipino commmuniy. Selfless.
Created the Daguhoy Museum through hundreds of hours of hard work sorting through what others consider trash but actually was a historical treasure of artifacts, letters, manuscripts and photographs. Determined.
On the last weekend of his life he spent his time editing his speech for the Leo Giron Drive Dedication although deathly ill and in great pain. He said he didn’t want to let people down by not being ready. Devoted.
These deeds and a thousand more define Tony Somera.
GM Tony Somera was a great man of Compassion, Passion, Vision and Life! He made everyone around him a better person and was our friend leader and inspiration.
You did a lot of travelling with Grand Master Tony. What can you tell us about that?
—it was a magical time where we all of us created the BahalaNation. Traveling with GMT was laughing through a 6 hour layover, rain heat pain and sickness. Nothing stopped him from promoting the art of his friend and mentor GME Leo Giron.
We traveled once or twice a month together for 10 years.
It was an honor.
Mind-set. Skill-set. Applied Intent.
Tempering the Body and Mind; Positioning the Spirit and Will; Adapt and Do.
Bahala Na! Come What May