I was doing a sweep of the Manila Pop Culture Convention when I saw a sign that said: “Come to the dark side, we have cookies.” Naturally, I will not pass up free cookies and a chance to be part of and serve the Galactic Empire. However, upon closer inspection and interaction with the people in the booth, I have come to learn they are far from dark. Lightsaber Philippines is a two-year-old Star Wars group which branched out from a bigger group. According to member Christian de Lima, the group aims to get the youth off their gadgets, promote social interaction, introduce a healthy lifestyle, and educate in self-defense, all in the geekiest way possible. He says their primary goal is to take Philippine culture and integrate it into the Star Wars universe, like incorporating the martial art Arnis into lightsaber fighting.
Lightsaber Duels as a Sport
It has been said arnis is one of the influences in the fight choreography in the newer Star Wars movies. However, de Lima notes, they treat lightsaber duels as its own sport, and not a form of choreographed and synchronized dance numbers. If they make a wrong move in exhibition fights, they get hurt.
I have been hit in the head once during a duel,
de Lima recalls.
He also states the group aims to follow France in making lightsaber duels an official sport, as the former did by integrating it under fencing. They got in contact with the French Fencing Federation, exchanged rule sets in order for them to have an international standard, and absorbed some of their rules for the Filipino group. In turn, they teach these rules and techniques to members of the group and to those who decide to dabble in the activity.
If esports made its way into the SEA Games, why can’t lightsaber dueling?
Lightsabers for Charity
Aside from advocating for lighsaber duels to become sport, de Lima says the group uses lightsaber duels as a form of entertainment, free of charge and towards charity. In the past year, one of their biggest projects is their collaboration with Resorts World Manila and Bahay Aruga for the OctoberBest event.
De Lima also takes in pride in saying the charitable streak of their group is the effect of being Lucasfilm-recognized. “Being that we cannot earn from using the brand for our own, we instead dedicate our public performances to charity, not for profit,” he says. As of writing, the group has already organized a toy drive in time for the Christmas season, which can be found here.
The above activities of Lightsaber Philippines is perhaps what sets them apart from some of the other Star Wars groups in the country. Their love for the craft, which they hope can be called sport soon enough, drives them to reach out not just to the people of the country, but also the world. Maybe even, true to the concept of Star Wars, they can reach the farthest corners of the universe and people’s hearts. With the franchise releasing a new video game, TV series, and movie, their influence and inspiration is never far away. Safe to say, the men and women of Lightsaber Philippines are stars, using their fire of knowledge and passion to shine their influence across.
And, as Chirrut Imwe said, the strongest stars have hearts of kyber.