The Folklore on Balintawak

Balintawak is a historical place in Quezon City where Andres Bonifacio, the Katipunan’s founder, was said to have led his men to renounce Spanish atrocities with a loud cry. How did such a strange name as “Balintawak” come about? This folklore has this to say.

Long ago, the folklore begins, before the Spaniards came to the Philippines, there came an Indonesian to a certain part of the highlands north of Manila. The Indonesian, with his family and men, after some exploration, decided to settle in that area. There they introduced to the natives their arts and handicrafts for bartering these with foods and other household needs. The Indonesian wares and crafts were all interesting and quite unique from what the natives have been accustomed to with their trades with the Chinese, according to the folklore.

But what really amazed the natives were the Indonesian metal swords. The folklore describes them as being designed with interesting curves and crescents and other odd-shaped symbols that other Asian swords they have seen did not have. The Indonesians, from Bali, were also warriors and taught the natives some moves from their war dances using the special swords. The natives started calling the Indonesians and their dances Bali, and later, Balin. The folklore adds that soon the dance was called Balin Tabak locally, referring to the swords or “tabak” in the vernacular used in the dance.

And so one day, the folklore says, the Spaniards came, and when they first reached the area they wondered what the place was called. After everybody was introduced (and it was quite a scene with the different languages used), the local chieftain decided to entertain the guests with an evening feast. At the community center, a presentation was given, and of course their newest cultural dance was presented—the Balin Tabak. The foreigners were amazed and asked what the place was called so they can report back to headquarters their remarkable found. The folklore paints this scene with confusion because the natives, thinking the guests were asking what the dance was called, shouted “Balin Tabak!” The Spaniards started calling the place Balin Tabak. After some time, the name evolved to Balintawak.

Well, afterwards, history ironically tells us that this place of folklore hospitality later turned out to be the place where the first rebellion against abuses to that hospitality was shouted with raised “tabak” in protest.

Filipino hospitality figures mostly in most local folklores. The trait is not only reflected in folklores, it is also historically true.

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