BaRaptasan 2024: Bringing Different Voices in One Stage

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For a mambabalagtas, verbal joust and poetry are so much more than a way to express complex emotions and stories. While it was born as a form of entertainment during the bleak era of American colonialism, Balagtasan – a form of traditional verbal jousting – became a venue to discuss socio-political issues that besieged contemporary society.

Through facts, rhymes, and clever lines, the mambabalagtas would exchange discussions on the pros and cons of a topic relevant to the community. When it first happened on April 6, 1924, Balagtasan became the rage.

Town folks would gather at the plaza and listen to mambalalagtas defend their stand on certain social issues. While it seemed like a verbal display of one’s mastery of the Filipino language, it became a powerful tool to engage the public and create informed conversations on social realities.

But through the years, with the advent of new entertainment platforms, verbal jousts become few and far between in recent times.

With this in mind, the Cultural Center of the Philippines embarks on a new project to make Balagtasan and other types of verbal jousts remain in the consciousness of the Filipino people, especially the young generations.

To commemorate the centennial of Balagtasan, CCP, through its Kanto Kultura program, presents BaRaptasan, a Balagtasan competition with a twist. The competition gives Balagtasan a contemporary feel with the incorporation of rap.

With topics discussing the clash between modernity and tradition, the CCP’s Kanto Kultura BaRaptasan Grand Finals is open to the public. Ten finalists will battle it out in the finale, slated on April 6, 2 PM, at the Rizal Park Open-Air Auditorium.

The group finalists are: Ang Mga Supling ni Angela, Bagong Koronadal Advocates (City of Koronadal), Barapbida Normalista, DMD, El Setecientos, Harayasista Group, Lakbay Iral, Rapper sa Pinas, Tanglaw, and Waraptasan.

Ang Mga Supling ni Angela of Tabaco City, Albay

Paying homage to the first Filipina poet Angela Manalang Gloria, and one of Tabaco City’s proud daughters, Ang Mga Supling ni Angela hopes to present Tabaco City with a bang on the national stage. The group is composed of Kirschen Xyvrl Balajadia, Carlo Campit, and Franco Balingbing.

Bagong Koronadal Advocates (City of  Koronadal) of South Cotabato

Working students and full-time storytellers Angel Faith Leal, Jhon Van Lapu, and Philip Jay Leaño make up the Bagong Koronadal Advocates group. Aside from being familiar with verbal joust competitions, the members share the same love for theater. “Pare-pareho naming mahal ang entablado,” declared the group.

Barapbida Normalista of Tacloban, Leyte

Members Ray Padiwan, Wally Concepcion, and Dave Padel are third-year students taking up Education (majoring in Filipino) at Leyte Normal University. Handpicked by their professor for the competition, the three want to reintroduce their university as an avenue for creatives, not just academics.

 DMD of Makati City

The fourth group, DMD, consists of rappers John Dave P. Rosimo, Marielle Lou C. Bernardo, and Reynaldo S. Bernardo from Makati City. Their group name stood for their initials.

El Setecientos of Santa Rosa, Laguan  

El Setecientos, a group from Santa Rosa, Laguna, is composed of Simon, Mhagz, and Arkyak. Besides continuously honing their craft as seasoned rappers, they now want to present their craft to the national stage. Always eager to experience something new, El Setecientos of Laguna signed up for BaRaptasan to contribute to the artistic landscape of the Philippines.

Harayasista Group of  Labo, Camarines Norte

The Harayasista Group may have performers Louie L. Francia, John Earnest M. Evidor, and Amynel L. Garino, but it also has Angel Yasis as its coach. Hailing from Camarines Norte, Yasis looked for performers to create his own group after assisting another competitor.

Lakbay Iral of Dasmarinas City, Cavite 

Lakbay Iral members Aaron Vincent G. Jimenez, Louie Ross P. Reyes, and Gabriel Angelo Pedrosa formed the group because of the BaRaptasan competition. True to its translation, Lakbay Iral aims to live life by creating and immersing in the arts.

Rapper sa Pinas of Bocaue, Bulacan

Ernesto Canoy Jr., Oliver Monidero, and Fernando Melencio Jr. met through a Facebook group for rappers. Melencio reached out to the other two and quickly became friends. Eventually, they formed Rapper sa Pinas and applied for the competition. They want to bring to the competition the natural nature of their performance, emphasizing their message and working hard to make sure it will be heard.

Tagapagtaguyod ng Literatura at Wika (TANGLAW) of Ilocos Sur

The Tagapagtaguyod ng Literatura at Wika or TANGLAW is actually an organization from the Ilocos Sur Polytechnic State College, under the Secondary Education Program. Edlyn Baniqued, Deprisse Guco, and Schulamight Manzano chose to honor their school as they represented their institution on the BaRaptasan stage. They are all third-year Filipino Majors who were invited by their professor to join this competition.

Waraptasan of Tacloban City, Leyte  

Waraptasan is a wordplay spun by its members to show that they are from Tacloban City. With Waray as their language, members Ma. Regina Babon, James Leala, and Kenneth Cinco believe that “when doing art, you have to bring your own identity.” And that is exactly what they plan to do in BaRaptasan.

#BaRaptasan #CCP #rubyspreciousmoments #rubyasoyph


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