After a year of an online Balagtasan event due to the pandemic, the University of the Philippines Alumni Association in BC in cooperation with the Philippine Consulate General in Vancouver held its annual Balagtasan event in person. Entitled, “Balagtasan, Kundiman, Harana, Tula at Sayawan – Ikapitong Yugto”, the event was held at the Praise International Church in Surrey and was sponsored by SunLife Canada and La Meza Grill. Consul General Maria Andrelita Austria gave a speech on the importance of the celebration of Buwan ng Wika, and quoted Manuel Quezon’s poem about the beauty of the Filipino language.
The show featured the poetry of Cliff Belgica, who hails from the Ifugao province, as well as poetry from Ahmed Tillah III who rendered one in a song form in Tausug. The oft-awaited Balagtasan debate was written by Bella Balisi-Bevilacqua and the two debaters featured were Art Fabian and PNC-Balitang Vancouver’s Juville Hipol. A dance was performed by the United Masskara Association, while Christina Aquino of the Philippine Consulate in Vancouver rendered a song. The UPAABC Choir, which was composed of a few alumni of the UP Concert Chorus, was led by Ruby Cortes and sang some kundiman songs. The Friends, Apothic and Music (FAM) presented a hilarious look at the art of the Harana, complete with a facade of a bahay kubo as props. Master Shishir Inocalla and his son Jesse and a student did a demonstration of Philippine Martial Arts, and announced that he is working towards making the sport an official sport in Canada. The event was completed with guests being treated to a baon/bugong of asado rolls, ube cakes and chocnuts with their Paradise juices as a thank you for their attendance.
Other sponsors of the event included Raycel Fortaleza (Realtor), Paradise Juices,Cansel,T1 Mobile, as well as organizations UFCABC and the Fil-Canadian Cultural Heritage Society. The event was also sponsored by many of its members, such as wellness doctor Dr. Iris Radev.
The annual event is a showcase of Philippine literature, song and dance, and is in its seventh year.