Shortly before moving back home to Maryland, I watched Guro Inosanto online as he presented our Filipino Martial Arts to a captivated audience at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. The program, entitled “Filipino Martial Arts: From Kali and Escrima to Boxing” featured faculty from the University of Maryland but also included a name I was not familiar with. During her portion, Gura Rosie Abriam gave a wonderful recounting of the Princess Josephine of Panay, the legendary teacher of the famed Grandmaster Floro Villabrille. I watched, captivated and in awe as she told her story, and was impressed with both her poise and familial camaraderie with Guro Inosanto.
Over the last two years, I have been involved with the Katipunan of Maryland’s Filipino Cultural School, and during these sessions I have often spoke to the many young children about our great women warriors. Even Guro Inosanto has proudly recounted the seven Joan of Arc’s of the Philippines, and detailed at length the many aspects of the Philippines’ historically matriarchal society. Recently, in my fruitless attempts to find out more about the Princess Josephine I recalled Gura Rosie’s presentation, and soon reached out to get in touch with the facilitator for the presentation, footage of some of Guro Inosanto’s demo, a transcript of Gura speaking, and finally Gura Rosie herself.
Gura Rosie was gracious enough to agree to an interview, and I was humbled by her genuine personality and authentic desire to support and uplift our Filipino community. In the lineage of Grandmaster Floro Villabrille himself, to Grandmaster Ben Largusa, to her direct teacher Tuhan Joseph Arriola of the Kamatuuran School of Kali, it was an honor and my privilege to connect with Gura Rosie.