Sublian Festival Batagueño pride

By JASER A. MARASIGAN
September 3, 2006
Updated January 2, 2020

Most Philippine dances were originally patterned after European dances during the Spanish regime. “Pandango sa Ilaw,” “Rigodon” and “Cariñosa” are just some of the dances that Filipinos are now known for. Aside from these western-influenced dances, we were also able to produce our own, ethnic-inspired dances like the “Tinikling,” which has already made its way to worldwide recognition. Despite these dances’ apparent adaptation to western dances, Filipinos still pay tribute to their cultural roots.

Every province probably has its own folk dance, interpreted attractively in festivals and shows that have added to the country’s reputed contribution to the world’s illustrious list of traditional arts.

Sublian festival
Sublian Festival parade celebration in the Philippines

One such kind of Philippine folk dance is the “Sublian,” a dance indigenous to Batangas. Sublian is originally a ritual dance of the natives of Bauan, Batangas presented during fiestas as a ceremonial worship dance to the Holy Cross.

The Subli had become better known as a folk dance being taught in schools, which sad to say, is getting farther and farther away in spirit and form from the Batangas traditional dance.

The recent Sublian Festival has since evolved to what it is now, a date with Batangas traditions that include art forms like the harana, the awitan, the Tibag, and the subli, as well as cultural practices like the lupakan, palarong Batangueño, huntahan and barikan.

The Sublian Festival is a 14-day celebration with events held primarily in the City Hall area, in the heart of Batangas City. It aims to promote and propagate Batangueño traditions, art and culture, while providing a venue for an increased traffic of visitors into the city thereby promoting livelihood among the locals.

The festival is a brainchild of the Batangas City Cultural Affairs Board. It is an annual celebration coinciding with the city’s founding anniversary.

This festival has been included in the Calendar of Events of the Department of Tourism and has been given support in its endeavors by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, which together with the Cultural Center of the Philippines, has also honored the Sublian Festival by including Subli in the Philippine delegation to the World Folk Life Festival of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

The term “subli” is from two Tagalog words, “subsub” meaning falling on head and “bali,” which means broken. Hence, the dancers appear to be lame and crooked throughout the dance.

The people of Batangas are “Tagalogs,” but they speak the language with a distinct inflection that is livelier than the Tagalog spoken elsewhere. Sentences are punctuated with the expressions “ga” and “ala eh.”

Most of the locals are farmers and fishermen but the province has carved a niché as a producer of high-quality traditional crafts. Batangas is noted for its fan blades or “balisong,” which originated in a barrio in Taal town with the same name. The “balisong” is said to be a part of the Batangueño garb and without the trusted knife, no self-respecting Batangueño feels at ease.

The province is also known for its “bagoong balayan” and “patis.” The origins of Tagalog cuisine could also be traced back to Batangas. Popular and even unheard dishes like ulikbang manok, adobong puso, Batangas bulalo and Tapang Batangas, can be enjoyed at Gerry’s Grill, located at SM City in Batangas. Likewise, Batangas’ sweets made of “panutsa” or caked brown sugar are also delightful.

balisong knife
An integral part of the festival is the Balisong knife. Here’s our idea of the best options for you!

Batangas is the vibrant new access point for industries located in the dynamic CALABARZON region and plays a very significant role in the industrial development of the Southern Tagalog region. The province’s proximity to Manila and the excellent recreational potentials for diving, water sports, golf, eco-tourism and cultural visits can accommodate the leisure needs of local folks and tourists.

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