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 PHIL AIRSOFT HISTORY by ALMIGHTY

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MajAlkhor
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PostSubject: PHIL AIRSOFT HISTORY by ALMIGHTY   Tue Dec 19 2006, 14:08

As published in the 1st issue of HIT Magazine back in 2004 : (text highlighted in orange are post-printing/current updates by the author)

19 going on 20
The History of Airsoft in the Philippines
Author’s preface: Our being the first team around inevitably intertwined our group history with the early chapters of Philippine airsoft till present day. Having no foresight that we would last this long, no one had bothered to record the events as they happened. So, almost in the traditional manner of balladeers and storytellers passing on historical accounts thru songs and stories retold, the following is from the author’s personal account of how airsoft began in the country, as best as can be recalled from memory. Dates and some chronology may be a little off, but accounts of events and circumstances are generally accurate.

A long time ago, in a place
not so far, far away…

A band of five brothers decided
to stay home on the weekend, and
pass the time away by playing good and
bad guys shooting it out like in the movies.
To the tune of Beverly Hills Cop theme (Axel Foley)
blaring on the audio system, the boys and friends ran
up, down, in, out and around the house, out into the street,
and over fences into neighbors’ yards, trying to tag each other
using toy guns that fired 6mm hard plastic BBs...

Thus, in the summer of 1985, the brothers (the author included), known then as Team Gypsy, started a game that they would be playing every weekend for the following years. Scouting around for new guns, as well as uniforms and equipment, they met new people who they introduced into their newfound weekend adventure. Airsoft wargaming in the Philippines was born.

Chancing to meet the owners of Tokyo Hanna in Greenhills, the group managed to convince the latter to import better airsoft guns for the team as well as sell to other potential customers. They did, and as Tokyo Hanna got more customers, the number of players started growing and new teams started to form - a mostly Chinese family/peer group from San Juan (later to form People’s Park Airsoft Group (PPAG) in Quezon City), a family/peer group from Malabon (to resurface as Northern Alliance in Bulacan), and a student peer group from Las Salle Taft (to fade, but give birth to different small groups spread all over). With team representatives from the Malabon, Quezon City, Manila, San Juan and Pasig, Action Games League (AGL) was formed to standardize the game rules, centralize game organizing, and promote airsoft as a hobby. It was probably the first airsoft organization outside Japan and the rest of the world.

Courtesy of the PPAG founders, the first team vs. team game (also the first ever night game) was played in the unfinished portions of Gilmore Townhomes in San Juan. It was followed by regular Sunday games in a steel mill turned lumber warehouse in Quezon City. Games were played anywhere and everywhere – on any piece of property that owners allowed to be used; within a 20-hectare family subdivision near Broadcast City, and in the former Jackbilt Compound (a part of which is now know as the Sitting Duck’s Libis playsite) along C-5. The most memorable game in Libis was when the game extended well into dusk and players went home around 8 PM. By 9 PM, Gringo Honasan’s RAM-SFP forces and tanks were rumbling along the same road on their way to assault Camp Aguinaldo! Coup d’etats notwithstanding, AGL kept on playing. Lacking a Sunday daytime venue, AGL took the game inside the PAGASA Compound, along Science Road, every Friday night till about 3:00-4:00 AM the next day. It was just across the back fence of the Central Bank Mint on East Avenue! When it was again safe to go play during daytime, AGL took to inviting other groups to play in the burned out ruins of Tropical Palace Hotel in BF Parañaque.

The demand for airsoft guns stripped shelves of the few existing stocks. Other stores, like Lil’s Hobby Shop and Special Toys Center took notice and followed suit in offering airsoft items. Because of it, more players turned up. While playing in a lumber yard in Pasig, some new players grouped together to form Nemesis. A number of their original starting members came from AGL. For that matter, their topdog team, Viper, was put together by ex-AGL players. They established a play site in the tree seedling facility of the DENR along East Avenue, eventually moving on to Tropical Palace where Recon Survival Game Club (RSGC) settled in. RSGC was a merger of teams Viper, SEALs and Rangers, among others.

Every once in a while, the game would head up to Valdez Farm (now the Lopez-owned “The Center” convention facility) in Antipolo where the group would invite other teams and new people to play with us. It was in a couple of AGL games in Valdez that we met and played with the would-be proprietor of GOTCHA, the first commercial paintball operator in the Philippines, which came out in 1989. That should lay to rest any question now as to which came first - airsoft or paintball?

In December 1989, AGL operated an airsoft game booth in Payanig sa Pasig during the Christmas season carnival. The roughly 1000 sq.m. battleground was enclosed by fine mesh see-through net and attracted sizable crowds. The all-volunteer crew manned the booth and assisted walk-in players from 3:00 PM till 3:00 AM next morning. It was the first time airsoft was exposed to the general public. In it’s roughly 6 weeks of operation, the Payanig airsoft arena successfully imprinted the game into the subconscious of innumerable spectators. Some of them, just now actively playing, recount how that carnival game influenced them to go into airsoft even after a long time.

Then came the 1st Ammunition and Defense Fair in Philcite, July 1990. AGL managed to get the organizer to allow an airsoft display alongside real firearms. To boost, the organizer even provided a 3000 sq.m. game demonstration playfield right outside the building. Though actual recruitment during the event was small, it was offset by the consequent feature on airsoft gaming (October 1990) on Channel 2’s morning program “Magandang Umaga” – the very first media documentary on airsoft in the country. The success of the undertaking rewarded AGL with its own slot in the following year’s defense fair, as well as another participation when it transferred venue to Mega Mall.

In March 1991, AGL first set foot on Rolling Hills Resort. Located on the Montalban foothills of the Sierra Madre, it was to be our “home” for the next 8 years. During that time, Rolling Hills became Mecca to every team and every single player to enter airsoft. This included the guys from Marikina who came to be nicknamed the Marikina Boys, (currently known by their team name – Moby Dix) By this time, PPAG had formed (based in the People Park commercial arcade fronting SM City North EDSA) and they too often went to Montalban to play. Over time, the regular Sunday attendance rose from lowly 20-something to over 200 (during 1993). The first overnight bivouac was played there in March 1992. It was there also that the first airsoft team competition, the 15-man Team Challenge, was launched in May 1993. Rollng Hills was background to two different episode features on the tv/cable sport program Gameplan. The media exposure was recruitment windfall for AGL, as well as the other teams.

By 1992, AGL’s original sub-teams have since dissolved and its members assimilated into one homogenous body that others preferred to recognize as a single team organization. Late that year, AGL, Nemesis, Recon, People’s Park, Renegade (spun off from PPAG) grouped together to form the AirSoft Association of the Philippines (ASAP) – another try at putting all airsoft teams under one operational umbrella. The 15-man Team Challenge was ASAP’s first project aimed at proving that the different groups could engage in friendly competition. Unfortunately, it failed. Minus AGL, the other groups then formed the National AirSoft Society (NASS), spearheaded by new AGL spin off - Stormtroopers AirSoft Group (STAG), and the addition of Meycauayan AirSoft Club (MASK). This attempt at another umbrella lasted longer – around 2-3 years – before effectively fizzling out.

Senator Biazon’s grandstanding in the Senate about realistic looking toy guns (despite his son being an airsoft player himself), Senator Orly Mercado’s advocating a ban on of toy guns, plus local ordinances to the same effect, pushed the local airsoft hobby underground. Despite these, AGL still managed to organize games inside Camp John Hay in Baguio twice, and in Subic Naval Magazine, 3 times. From 1994 onward, player attendance slowly dwindled and numerous squad sized teams disappeared. Through the decline, airsoft wargaming thrived in the hearts of a hardy few who kept playing on discreetly.

Rolling Hills Resort was sold sometime 1999 and AGL moved the game to a scrap metal yard in Balintawak, and eventually to the PUP campus in Sta. Mesa. For about 8 months, from 1999 to 1st quarter 2000, AGL was able to use the abandoned residential area of Fort Bonifacio (now site of International School – Manila, the British School, and Market Market). The venue attracted many players back into the game, reviving old squads, reinvigorating the surviving teams, and enticing new blood. It was there that a returning AGL veteran brought his barkada which eventually formed team Wyvern, and its all female sub-team Power Puff Girls (PPG). Wyvern eventually disbanded and re-organized as Fenris. On its own, at the same time, RASTA was forming up and playing over at the Navy Compound of Fort Bonifacio. RSGC spun out Trinity (now disbanded), later on - Recon 1st Battalion (R1B), and got reduced to a small team unit (still playing in Tropical Palace). Present team 101st Airborne was formed by ex-RSGC Anthony.

In Pampanga, local team Semper Fi , came to be an AGL chapter (for a while) and upon exposure to the other metropolitan groups, eventually became a part of the popular “airsoft community.” Down south, AirSoft Games established presence, first in Cebu and then in the other southern provinces. Though their development was separate and independent of Manila teams, some of their founders trace their initial airsoft exposure back to Metro Manila during the “Tokyo Hanna Days”. Omega Zone, a group initially targeted for Internet professionals, was formed by players, one of whom professed to have started playing in Montalban.

A lot seemed to have happened from 2000 to 2002. AGL reintroduced the 2-day bivouac game while playing on Grande Island, with Wyvern and Semper Fi in attendance. While playing in the PNR train repair facility in Sangandaan, Caloocan, the group was featured in Gameplan (third time around). AGL also successfully adapted paintball’s speedball format into Airsoft SPEEDBALL - first played in the old MMTC Bus Terminal Compound along North Avenue, Q.C. (April 2001), in Payanig sa Pasig (December 2001), and alternately in PISCOR in Pasig and Valenzuela during the AGL Speedball Grand Prix 2002. AGL also made the first adaptations of the reality program “Combat Missions” for scenario based team contest. The first, “Pilot Rescue”, was sponsored by a cable network, and the second, “Drug Bust” was documented and shown in Gameplan (AGL’s fourth time!). AGL opened the historic Corregidor Island to airsoft playing.

Meantime, the old-time groups Trinity, R1B and STAG got together with new teams Wyvern, RASTA, Semper Fi, and OZ to form a third try at an airsoft umbrella, with a patriotic acronym at that – the Philippine National Airsoft Society (PNAS). So far, into its fourth year, it has outlasted the two previous attempts, and lives on thru its trademark event – the KALIS airsoft team competition, now also going into its fourth run.

Flashing back to around October 1990, AGL entered a team into GOTCHA’s 1st Philippine Paintball Cup, if only to prove that airsoft players can play paintball as well. Using only rental guns, with a load limit of 40 balls each. Despite the odds, the airsofters put forth a valiant effort. In the end, they were sidelined and beaten due mostly to equipment failure and stuck-together ammo because of the rain. Some six years later, AGL once again entered a paintball tournament - the UP Speedball Open, held in the UP football Field – this time, with three teams. AGL came out overall champion, with the other two teams taking 3rd and 4th place in a field of six. The victory was recorded and shown on television by, none other than, Gameplan.

Any large group is hard to manage and keep under control. The larger the number, the more people with their own ideas of running things and feelings of self-determination. AGL was not immune to that. In addition to previous break-aways, AGL teams Tomahawk and Rainbow went on their own to form Spec War in August 2001, and mid-2003, Black Ops declared its own independence. Other teams also suffered the same fate. Earlier, Nemesis spun off Recon which, in turn, spun off team Trinity, while the remaining split into R1B and RSGC. Other Nemesis members are now scattered among different teams among which is Sitting Ducks. Wyvern had spun off Fenris, and its original members now either inactive or mixed in with other groups. Team Black Ops itself split into 4 groups, giving rise to Elite Kommandos Tactical Airsoft (EKTA), BOD, and Dragons aside from its current self. Even OZ was not spared – it just recently gave rise to Team Raptor. Just recently, relative newbie team Murder of Crows split and produced team Atlas.

The Internet was instrumental in local airsoft renaissance at the turn of the millenium. It brought exposure to airsoft hardware, the game, the teams much wider and faster than conventional word-of-mouth. Online communication bridged across physical boundaries and far distances. The renewed and growing public interest in airsoft inspired a number of people to venture into the airsoft business. In turn, increased availability of airsoft fueled an even greater growth in player and team numbers. Airsoft spread like wildfire. Over the last couple of years, we have seen unprecedented increase of players. New teams have formed, some have split, merged, reorganized, even disappeared only to be replaced by several new ones.

_________________
" Don't wound what you cannot kill."


Last edited by on Sun Feb 11 2007, 21:51; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: PHIL AIRSOFT HISTORY by ALMIGHTY   Mon Jan 08 2007, 13:41

whooup!!! lol! lol! lol!
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