WATCH: Rappers perform ‘Balagtasan’
Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo (philstar.com) - May 8, 2018 - 5:14pm

MANILA, Philippines — Contrary to allegations that Filipinos’ “FlipTop” battles were a rip-off from American rap, even before rap was born, Filipinos are already “rapping” through “Balagtasan” in the early 1920s, Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) President and Board Member Arsenio Lizaso claimed.

To mark the 86th death anniversary of Jose Corazon De Jesus, Lizaso’s grandfather and the so-called first “king” of Balagtasan, CCP has recently invited rappers Beware and Negatibo to perform a modern rap rendition of some of De Jesus’ works.

Beware is a member of the rap group Death Threat, which became known for the songs "Gusto Kong Bumaet (Pero 'Di Ko Magawa)" and "Ilibing ng Buhay (Ang Mga Sosyal).”

Meanwhile, Negatibo is part of the 2017 Cinemalaya Film Festival award-winning entry “Respeto.”

The Balagtasan, named after Francisco Balagtas who wrote “Florante at Laura” and “Orosman at Zafira,” is a Filipino literary form of debate where rhymed verses are created in spontaneity under topics that range from Philippine politics to culture.

De Jesus, also known by his pen name Huseng Batute, received much recognition for the Balagtasan. He won the title “Hari ng Balagtasan” in 1926 and again in 1929 where he beat his closest contender, Florentino Collantes.

On May 26, more Filipino rappers and performers will pay homage to Huseng Batute at his namesake CCP theatre starting at 1:30 p.m. The theater, a black box intended for experimental performances, was named after the Filipino poet’s pen name. The event is free and open to the public.

FLIPTOP FLIPTOP BATTLE HUSENG BATUTE HUSENG BATUTE THEATER TANGHALANG HUSENG BATUTE OF THE CULTURAL CENTER OF THE PHILIPPINES
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