Grandmaster Ramiro Estalilla Jr. was born in 1930 the first born Son of Aurelia Umibig Estalilla and Ramiro Abellera Estalilla Sr. In 1936, the Estalilla family moved to Mindanao where his father was Chief Checking Agent in Cotabato City. Just before the war broke out, his father was the Branch Station Manager for the Mindanao Motor Lines (MML) in Iligan City.
When the war broke out in 1941 his father was induced into the Philippine Army, which was disbanded when General Douglas McArthur was forced to leave the Philippine Islands. Ramiro Estalilla Sr. did not surrender and was one of the founders of the Peoples Revolution’s Army (PRA). During the resistance, Ramiro Estalilla Sr. held the responsibility of Colonel under General Datu Dilanggalang. Young Ramiro Estalilla Jr. was too young to join the war so to help out with the effort he would cross enemy lines to provide food to his father and the PRA. After the war, the Estalilla family continued to live in Mindanao.
In 1949 after graduating High School Ramiro Estalilla Jr. attended two years of seminary school and two years in Bible College in Manila. GM Estalilla graduated with a degree in Theology. Through his ministry, he immigrated to the United States in 1976. He arrived and settled in Orange Cove California as a Resident Minister. To further support his family back home he was allowed to work in the field picking grapes. He was soon able to bring his Wife, two daughters and his son to the Untied States.
GM Ramiro Estalilla Jr. began his Filipino Martial arts training in 1941 learning from his father, Uncle Bernardo Banay, Marcelino Bermudez, Braulio Roque and Menardo Presas. The sole purpose of his early training was for the preservation of his village, community and family. He carried on the art of his forefathers to the United States and began teaching in 1976 in Orange Cove. In 1982 he began to teach Kabaroan Eskrima at the Fresno City College. He has continued to teach Kabaroan up to today. He has been honored throughout the Martial Arts community having been honored as Grandmaster of the Year for California in the World Grandmaster’s Council and in 1999 he received a Doctorate in Martial Arts (DMA) from the World Martial Arts Hall of Fame. He was also awarded with a Golden Life Merit Award of Honor for the advancement of Filipino Martial Arts from the WMAHF. He has been featured and referred to in many publications. His occupies a chapter in both books; Filipino Martial Culture and Filipino Fighting Arts authored by Mark Wiley and published by Tuttle.
Gm Ramiro Estalilla Jr. has always taught his FMA from the philosophy of his father and his own Christian principals. He quotes his father as saying, “No matter how deadly you art is, it must be done within the sphere of good motive, behind a background of peaceful intentions.” Therefore, GM teaches his art within the context of Philippine history and culture. He believes that approaching the teaching of FMA with an emphasis on Filipino culture and history humanizes the Art, civilizes the Artist, and refines the style.