With the largest Filipino population of any of state, the trials of tinikling are woven into the fabric of California childhood as surely as dodgeball. Tinikling, which we kids were taught to perform for parents' night, is an ankle crushing folk “dance” involving two long poles smashed together in rhythm. Things might have been different if we had been taught about Balagtasan. Named for Francisco Balagtas y de la Cruz, the Shakespeare of Tagalog, Balagtasan is a marathon public debate held in poetic verse. It was so popular before WWII, it was staged at the Olympic Stadium in Manila. During this year’s 19th Annual Pistahan Festival, you get a taste of a Balagtasan-style battle, along with folk dancing, traditional arts, crafts, and martial arts, including escrima stick fighting (more sticks?!), as well as some Filipino pop music, and lots of games (sipa is a little like team hacky sack with a net -- super fun). But the pinnacle of American-Filipino fusion is the all-too-popular Balut Eating Contest. Balut is a fertilized duck embryo boiled in the shell and sold as street food in the Philippines. It’s also considered by many to be an aphrodisiac so you might want to steer clear after the competition.
Aug. 11-12, 2012