Celso Amora Mabalhin was born in the small town of Anhawan Southern Leyte on April 6,1923. His Arnis/Escrima training began when he was a small boy of 7. He was taught by his grandfather Bernado Mabalhin, in the Waray Waray Bolo/Pinute style. At the age of 12 he began to learn the "Pinayong" or "Umbrella" style from a Boholano trader with whom Celso worked for, selling cloths on the island of Samar. The rattan poles used in carrying the bundles of cloths were used as the teaching instruments.During WW2 he was a guerilla fighter serving as a 2nd lieutenant.
In 1953 he came to Cebu to establish a photography business, which became the well known US Studio. During this year he was invited to join the Doce Pares group of Cebu.
His main sparring partner/teacher in the Doce Pares was Filemon "Momoy" Canete, a master in Espada y Daga. His training in Martial Arts did not stop here at the Doce Pares however. He also broke club barriers by training with Venancio "Anciong" Bacon a master in Tapi Tapi, a one time member of the Doce Pares but had broken away to form his own school, "Balintawak". Another of his long time instructors during this period was Jesus "Pops" Cui SR, a master in Jui Jitsu. In the early 60's he underwent Kudokan Judo training with the supervision of Mr Y. Heroshi. He was joined in Judo
training by Cacoy Canete, Bebe Roa, DR Laraquel and Maning rivera to name but a few. He also underwent training in amateur wrestling with Sgt. Alcarez, a onetime Philippine army national champion and also Ai Ki Do with Max Tian. In 1962 he founded the Kamagayan Judo Club where his students went on to win medals in a series of local and national tournaments. In 1963 he traveled to the United States of America to further his studies in colour photography. He then proceeded through
California to teach Martial Arts and Escrima. Back in Cebu in 1966 he founded the "Cebu Empty Hands Karate Club" with the supervision and training of Master Johnny Chiuten then President of the "Philippines Karate Federation". He then received numerous medals and awards as best Judoist, best fencer, best in Jui Jitsu, best for Bojitsu in competitions for several years. In 1968-69 students and the children of Celso, Celso JR, Floro and Thomas participated in SPAJA (Southern Philippines Amateur Judo Association) tournaments winning medals in different category's during different tournaments.
In 1970 he was awarded a Masters Degree Red Belt from the Kempo Karate Club, Honolulu, Hawaii. During the 70's Celso and his children actively participated in the National Arnis Association of the Philippines (NARAPHIL). Celso demonstrated the Waray Waray style of Bolo/Pinute defences. In 1974 he introduced the "ESCRIBO" or Escrima Boxing for tournament consideration. The then NARAPHIL President Gen. Fabian Ver, appreciated the ESCRIBO and wanted to promote it but the majority of NARAPHIL went for the armor alternative.During the 1980's, his active participation, teaching and promotion of the Doce Pares Club of Cebu, resulted in the awarding in 1989, of an 11th degree Red & White Grandmasters belt, from Momoy and Yuling Canete. During the late 80's, his old friend Jesus (Pops) Cui SR came to live his final years at Celso's Junquera street residence, teaching.Celso advanced Jui Jitsu, especially the nerve center attack techniques.
In 1991 he was promoted Major in the Philippines Armed Forces Reservist and throughout the 90's taught students his different Arnis/Escrima styles.On May 6th 2000 he passed away hoping his Martial Arts legacy would be continued by his children and students.