The Battle of Balisong, a historical play

People of Panay and Iloilo resolved to fight against Spanish occupation forming their local Katipunan chapter.

People of Panay and Iloilo resolved to fight against Spanish occupation forming their local Katipunan chapter.

Battle of Balisong is a historical and street production by community theater organization Tagbuan sa Pilar (TPI) with the Pilar Rondalla and Knights of Columbus.

Supported by the Municipal Government of Pilar and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), it opened the 149th Pilar Foundation Day program held in the town of Pilar, Capiz last May 29, 2014.

Also known as Ang Away sa Balisong or Ang Kadalag-an sa Balisong (Victory at the Battle of Balisong) is an annual theater production mounted by TPI since 2009.

Based on the oral narratives of Katipunero descendants in Pilar documented by Prof. Presminda P. Benliro, PhD (UP Visayas) and devised as full-length script by artistic director Joseph Alabaña, the play presents the fight for freedom and the heroism of Pilar as well as of Iloilo and Panay revolutionaries in the Battle at Balisong Hills (formerly Kalupogan Hills) in 1887 that defeated the Spanish troops led by Gov. Manuel Herrera.

Thus, the play is a tribute to Pilar fighter such as Aurelio Matillano, Don Tarang, Isidro Aglinao, Raymundo Boy, Tomas Abelita, Mariano Bacanto, Exequiel Babas, Ramonito Bacli, Dalmacio Patricio, Jorge Singson, Domingo Bonilla, Jorge Dequiña, Felimon Fuentes and Ramon Bernas. Also remembered in the play is the chivalry and bravery of Katipunan reinforcement troops from Panay and Pontevedra including Gen. Juan Arce, Gen. Esteban Contreras, Pedro Bisnar, Pascual Barza, Manual Villasis and Domingo Balgos among others.

The cast composed of children, student-youth and out-of-school youth, women and elders underwent a month-long training in acting, dance, voice, music and visual arts facilitated by Joseph Alabaña who is a member of the Iloilo Cultural Heritage Conservation Council and former Director for the Australia Center – CCP Dramatic Arts Program for Philippine-Australia Cultural Interaction; Hanz Fernandez of the Irong-irong Dance Company; soprano Mari Jo Palencia of the UP Visayas Choral and a former member of Madrigal Singers; and Julian Almirol and Roger Bibal of Fine Arts Bound-Baguio. Animator and 2009 CCP Thirteen Artists Awardee Don Salubayba was supposedly one of the facilitators if not for his untimely death in March.

In the final production, other collaborators include Guile Obligar and Jed Villanueva for Choreography and Imee Morales, Daniel Demafeliz and Adora Delfin for Rondalla.

Meanwhile, the Municipal Government of Pilar is currently processing the resolution declaring the Balisong Hills and its extant caves of three entrances as heritage sites.

More photos here.

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About Joanna Lerio

cultural journalist, multidisciplinary artist, educator, traveller, dreamer, yogini, vegetarian, advocate
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