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In The Philippines, traditional large swords known as the Kampilan and the Panabas were used in combat by the natives. A notable wielder of the kampilan was Lapu-Lapu, the king of Mactan and his warriors who defeated the Spaniards and killed Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan at the Battle of Mactan on 27 April 1521. Traditional swords in the Philippines were immediately banned, but the training in swordsmanship was later hidden from the occupying Spaniards by practices in dances. But because of the banning, Filipinos were forced to use swords that were disguised as farm tools. Bolos and baliswords were used during the revolutions against the colonialists not only because ammunition for guns was scarce, but also for concealability while walking in crowded streets and homes. Bolos were also used by young boys who joined their parents in the revolution and by young girls and their mothers in defending the town while the men were on the battlefields. During the Philippine–American War in events such as the Balangiga Massacre, most of an American company was hacked to death or seriously injured by bolo-wielding guerillas in Balangiga, Samar. When the Japanese took control of the country, several American special operations groups stationed in the Philippines were introduced to the Filipino Martial Arts and swordsmanship, leading to this style reaching America despite the fact that natives were reluctant to allow outsiders in on their fighting secrets.

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