De Campo 1-2-3 Original (also known as De Campo Orihinal, 1-2-3 De Campo Orehenal, De Campo Uno-Dos-Tres Orihinal) was developed by Grandmaster Jose D. Caballero, a native of Toledo, Cebu. At a young age, Caballero was already enamored of watching arnis matches during town fiesta celebrations, wherein he observed the tactics used by a wide variety of arnisadors. The most popular event was dubbed “Juego Todo”, an all-out stick fight with no armor. Injury or death were the only outcomes of this brutal sport.
Grandmaster Caballero strove to develop a style with superior techniques that would not easily be countered by other practitioners. When he turned 18 in 1925, he formally named his style as “De Campo Uno-Dos-Tres Original” and proceeded to become the undefeated Juego Todo champion of his era. Unlike other arnis legends, there is a list of arnisadors whom Caballero vanquished. His De Campo techniques were further complemented by his skill in woodwork, which allowed him to customize his fighting sticks. He was also known to have dabbled in oraciones, or special spells written in Latin on religious accessories. Oraciones purportedly granted powers to the wearer, including but not limited to healing, invincibility, invisibility, and astral travel.
Caballero’s fame spread far and wide; soon enough, arnisadors avoided Juego Todo events whenever he registered his name on the combatants list. Later on, as a family man who needed to sustain twelve children, he participated in Juego Todo matches in other parts of the country, feeding the family with the prize money he collected. He also conducted private arnis lessons to students interested in learning De Campo. Two of his sons, Manuel “Mawe” and Savaldor “Badur” Caballero, followed in their father’s footsteps.
As a young man, Mawe joined the military and fought against insurgents in areas such as Basilan, Mindanao. Leter on, as a family man, Mawe taught De Campo via one-on-one sessions to complement his earnings as a bodyguard for the town Mayor. He won second place in the NARAPHIL tournament conducted in Cebu City, and earned the distinction of wanting to fight without any protective gear. He was also known to have inherited his father’s skill. Grandmaster Mawe passed away on May 1, 2017.
Meanwhile, Badur accompanied his father Jose as a consultant to various law enforcement agencies around the country. Afterwards, he taught an eclectic fighting system that had De Campo as its core. Despite a respiratory ailment, Grandmaster Badur is still able to perform De Campo attacks with speed and precision. He lives in Toledo, Cebu with his nephew Master Jomalin Caballero and claims to have inherited all the anting-anting and oraciones of his father.
Master Jomalin Caballero is the eldest son of Grandmaster Mawe. He started learning the family art from his father at the age of 12, eventually becoming his father’s teaching assistant. Striving to make ends meet for his small family, he teaches De Campo to visitors who seek to study and wield the power of their family system.
Some info attributed to Nepangue, N., Macachor, C. (2007). Cebuano Eskrima: Beyond the Myth