Today is Great Grand Master Isidro P. Javier’s birthday. He would have been 99 years old, and were it not for his passing in August 2010 at the age of 98, I was looking forward to celebrating his 100th birthday.
It is a time to reflect; how was it that my path and his would cross? We were worlds apart...literally generations, with completely different upbringings, culture, and experiences.
Manong Isidro P. Javier was from a time and world we of this generation can only read about.
At an early age Isidro P. Javier was a seasoned warrior, having survived many battles with opponents of equal skill with the blade, and he bore the scars of those battles all his life.
He learned as a young boy to make his own destiny, and had set out to America at the age of 14, penniless, yet fearless, and made a life filled with accomplishments earned the hard way...on his own.
My youth was completely different; born in Cleveland, Ohio, 1949, my father a high-ranking government executive who was 53 when I was born.
We move to Washington D.C. when I was 3, and then to the island of Guam when I was 9, where my father established a program for the handicapped (Vocational Rehabilitation), and where for me, life was turned up-side-down. Everything was completely different...food, weather, housing... We traveled, around the world in 1960, 23 countries, 31 countries by the time I had completed military service.
My passion has always been music, and nothing in my life’s experiences would suggest that I would be so closely tied to someone like Manong Isidro P. Javier.
I met Frank and Cathy Landers at a music store where I worked, but it wasn’t until almost 15 years later that Mr. Landers sat down with me one day and told me his history as a Martial Artist and founder of Seishindo Kenpo, and then the history of Manong Javier as an Eskrima Grand Master.
Mr. Landers explained that he was Manong Javier’s son-in-law, and that he was the only one that Manong Javier had ever taught the Javier Family Fighting Art of Eskrima.
I was surprised and honored when he asked me if I would write their biographies. He took me in to meet Manong Javier for the first time, sitting in his favorite chair, watching TV. Manong Javier looked at me, shook my hand, then resumed watching the TV...end of introduction.
Eventually Manong Javier warmed up to me, and from then on I would be known as "The Writer".
We began a series of interviews, and traveled to tournaments in Southern, and Northern California, as well as Las Vegas.
It was a whirlwind of excitement and adventure, and meeting of Dignitaries of Martial Arts. These stories I will tell later in Manong Javier’s biography.
Everywhere we went, Manong Javier was greeted with respect, and in Stockton, California he was welcomed with open arms by the FMA Community and a close friendship develop with Bahala Na Multi-Style.
I was witness to an extraordinary event in Stockton CA. July 17, 2010: Manong Javier was so deeply moved by Bahala Na Multi-Style’s affection and respect shown to him and his family, that he formally adopted Bahala Na Multi-Style into the Javier family.
Also, in recognition of the great skill and leadership given to Bahala Na Multi-Style by Master Dexter Labonog, Great Grand Master Isidro P. Javier’s last act, a month to the day before his passing, was to bestow upon Master Dexter Labonog the title of Grand Master of the Eskrima Arts, what a great honor!
Manong Javier wanted to continue traveling to tournaments, but his health was failing. He knew the end was near, and so he set about preparing for the continuation of the Javier Family Fighting Art legacy.
On June 3, 2010, not only was I a witness to the event, but I was also honored to be asked to sign the document in which Great Grand Master Isidro P. Javier named Grand Master Frank Landers as his successor to the Javier Family Fighting Art, then promoted Grand Master Frank Landers to Senior Grand Master and head of the Javier family, protector of the Isidro P. Javier Legacy.
Manong Javier finally had to be admitted to the hospital in August.
I went to see him in the morning...he was sitting up, alert, and in good spirits. Manong wanted to give me a family portrait of GGM Javier, SGM Frank Landers and Professor Cathy Landers with there signatures, this would be the last signature of Isidro P. Javier and I was deeply moved by his sign of friendship.
We all thought he was coming home that day, but he suddenly turned for the worst and was gone that evening.
His life has changed the course of mine, and will continue to do so as I prepare his biography.
I wish I could have met Manong Javier sooner, or that he would have lived longer, but I'm grateful for the time that was given.
Happy Birthday Manong Isidro P. Javier.
Glen Rathbone “The Writer”