The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) restages the production of “Ang Pagbabalik-Tanaw sa Unang Hari ng Balagtasan” on September 21, 22 and 23 at the Tanghalang Huseng Batute following the success of the first show in May 2018 and to celebrate the Center’s 49th anniversary in September.
“Ang Pagbabalik-Tanaw sa Unang Hari ng Balagtasan” celebrates the life and works of Jose Corazon de Jesus. Huseng Batute is one of his many pen names. The CCP named its studio theater Tanghalang Huseng Batute after the great Filipino writer. He was born on November 22, 1894 and passed on on May 26, 1932. He was married to Asuncion Lacdan and had three children: Teresa, Rogelio, and Jose Corazon de Jesus, Jr.
“By honoring the past, the show shines a light on the beginnings of the popular Original Pilipino Music (OPM) love songs and rap battles – the kundiman and the Balagtasan. The show is also reminiscent of the sarsuwelawhere contemporary issues that deal with the political and personal are presented,” Arsenio J. Lizaso, president of the CCP, said.
“Ang Pagbabalik-Tanaw sa Unang Hari ng Balagtasan” features the songs and poems of De Jesus performed by the Philippine Opera Company (POC), the Tanghalang Pilipino Actors Company, the Lipa Actors Company (LAC) led by founder Luisito Nario, and ventriloquist Ony Carcamo. Vim Nadera is one of the hosts of the show. The production is directed by Ian Lomongo.
De Jesus was a consummate artist. As a writer, he wrote more than 4,000 columns for the Taliba newspaper written in verse form in a span of 10 years. He used the pen name Huseng Batute for his Buhay-Maynila column in Taliba. He has six (6) published books, namely, Mga Dahong Ginto, Gloria, Mga Itinapon ng Kapalaran, Sa Dakong Silangan, Ilaw sa Kapitbahay, and Maruming Basahan.
De Jesus, who studied music under the Opera Italyana director Enrico Renieri, was a lyricist and collaborated with many composers of his time such as Francisco Santiago, Leon Ignacio, and Constancio de Guzman. One of the more famous songs he penned from De Guzman’s composition was the translation of “Nuestra Patria” to “Bayan Ko”. “Bayan Ko” is considered as the second (unofficial) national anthem of the country.
De Jesus stood out as a performer. He held the undefeated title of “Hari ng Balagtasan” until his death in 1932, beating his closest contender Florentino Collantes. The Balagtasan is a Filipino literary form of debate where opposing participants use unrehearsed rhymed verses to prove their respective viewpoints. The rap battles of today trace their roots to the Balagtasan.
His immense popularity in the Balagtasan led to a movie invitation in Oriental Blood where he acted with Atang dela Rama, Carmen Rosales, and his son Jose Corazon de Jesus, Jr.
The September 21 show of the “Ang Pagbabalik-Tanaw sa Unang Hari ng Balagtasan” starts at 7:00 p.m. and ends at 8:30 p.m. The September 22 and September 23 shows run from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tanghalang Huseng Batute is the venue for the three (3) shows. Tickets are at P1,000 and P800 with a 50% discount for students, Persons with Disabilities (PWD), Senior Citizens, and government personnel. For ticket information, please call the CCP Box Office at 832-3706 or log on to ticketworld.com.ph.