Fliptop Battle: the Modern Balagtasan Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 14 October 2016

Fliptop Battle: the Modern Balagtasan


As a developing country on a contemporary period dominated with diverse influences, different sectors and government organizations as well as the non-governmental organizations anticipate on how to elevate and preserved the most powerful tool for communication – Language. Language is used to express inner thoughts and emotions, make sense of complex and abstract thought, communicate with others, as well as to establish rules and to preserved culture. It is used to inform people of what a person might feel, desire, anticipate, and communicate effectively with words, gestures, and tone of voice in a multitude of situation. Language is a special gift from God to mankind; if language doesn’t exist, human civilization would be impossible. Apart from being a means of communication, it is also a source of thinking as well as an expression. This is the reason why it is termed as “species uniform” possession of human beings.1 Language change and shifts as time passes by for a variety of reasons responding on social, economic, and political pressures.

History records many examples of language changed and shifts fueled by invasions, colonization, and migration. Even without these kinds of influences, a language can change and shifts dramatically if enough users alter the way they speak.2 Media is a general form for modern channels of public information. Traditionally, they are radio, televisions, films, newspapers, and internet. These disseminate information and entertainment on a wide scale and their powers of manipulating public opinion are the subject of much discussion and research.3 Media are changing the terms of our engagement with language and social semiosis in late modernity, and with linguistic variation and dialect as part of that. Media made a great impact on language change by means of word adaptation as well as familiarization of words especially on Filipino people as shown on television, internet, radio, or even newspaper. Multimedia serves as a pathway for manifesting new ideas on preserving languages like the newly formed Filipino rhythmical poetry debate known as “Fliptop Battle” popularized through “Youtube”, a very popular video sharing Web site that lets anyone upload short videos for private or public viewing.

4 Fliptop Battle is a rap battle league in the Philippines partake by young Filipino rappers or popularly called as battle “emcees” considered as geniuses on a contemporary Filipino language and made to help Philippine rappers promote and train both rap skills and abilities as well as to educate the masses both on a hip-hop cultural level and on a commonsensical level. The league places these rappers in a pit against each other in a battle of lyrical creativity and innate musical rhythm.5 Balagtasan is Filipino art of publicly arguing in extemporaneous, scaled and rhymed poetry manner formed by a group of Filipino poets in April 6, 1924 to commemorate the birth of Francisco Balagtas. Similar to the Fliptop Battle of contemporary period, this were fought by two different “Makata”, has a moderator, and has jurors that will decide whether who among the two excelled. 6 Balagtasan is a prominent type of literature from the time when is was discovered in 1924 until the world war II started.

Balagtasan brightens the popularity of lots of makata. Well-noted theatres such as Opere House, Olympic Stadium, and Teatro Zorilla as well as the different theatres in the Philippines were fulled by public. A very expressive battle of discourse on Magazines, Newspapers, and even on the Radio were labeled before the world war II started. Different versions of Balagtasan pop-up in every regions of the language, as well as adopted language like English and Spanish. Being a form of national literature, it is still part of the lives of every filipino not just the whole form balagtasan but every piece of it as a cultural expression.7 Fliptop Battle and the conventional Balagtasan are both battle of wisdom and free-flowing poetic discourse.

They give entertainment through humorous approach, bullying using hard-hitting words, and proving who among them is the best. Fliptop Battle as the modern Balagtasan is the focus of this study. Analyzing and critiquing is the main purpose of this research paper. Specifically, this study sought why Fliptop Battle dubbed as Balagtasan of modern day. This study was likewise anchored on the assumption that Fliptop Battle: The Modern Balagtasan as one of the modern significant pathway on the preservation of Philippine Language and educating masses on a new breed of wordsmith and calling attention on a dying culture in the Philippines.

Statement of the Problem:

The study intends to investigates and analyze the benefits together with the profile of Fliptop Battle as the modern balagtasan. Specifically, this study sought to answer to the following questions: 1. What are the characteristics of the Fliptop Battle: The Modern Balagtasan and the Conventional Balagtasan? 2. What is the common feature of the modern and the conventional balagtasan? 3. What are the existing influences of “Fliptop Battle: The Modern Balagtasan” poses along:

a. Music
b. Literature
c. Language
d. Entertainment
4. What is the significant contribution of “Fliptop Battle: The Modern Balagtasan” to the preservation of Philippine Language and Culture?

Scope and Delimitation:

The primary objective of the study is to know why Fliptop Battle is called as the “Modern Balagtasan” and how will it aid on the preservation of the Philippine Language and Culture. The secondary objective of this study is to know its role and to understand how Fliptop Battle: The Modern Balagtasan affects and influences the Philippine Music industry, Entertainment, Literature, and Language. As an addendum, the study will only include major information concerning Fliptop Battle.

Significance of the Study:

The reason why this study is significant can be explained from three aspects. First, this study investigates the nature, quality, traits, attribute, peculiarity, and distinctiveness of Fliptop Battle: The Modern Balagtasan to the conventional Balagtasan. Consequently, this research might offer an empirical awareness to the reader on a dying culture reincarnated through a modern method. Second, this study will give knowledge to the readers regarding the stand of Fliptop Battle to Philippine Music industry, Literature, Language, and Entertainment. Third, it is hoped that this study may help the readers, as well as the authorities on providing the information addressed to the contribution of Fliptop Battle to Philippine Language and Culture.

The researchers believed that this study would be beneficial to the following: Literature and Language Teachers — this study will help them in demonstrating and discussing the Modern Balagtasan in contrast to the conventional balagtasan and encourage the students to love for own culture. Other Researchers – the study will serve as their reference encouraging them to research on different issues concerning cultural problems that needs a corresponding action and a guide for their studies and related purposes. Authorities – this study will serve to different sectors, governmental and non-governmental organizations as additional reference and will call their attention not just on the preservation of Philippine language and literature but also on the conservation and promotion of Philippine culture.


1Brown, Steven & Attardo, Salvatorre “Understanding Language Structure, Interaction, and Variation: An Introduction to Applied Linguistics and Sociolinguistics for Non-specialists”, The University of Michigan Press, 2000,2005., Pp. 160 2Mulfwene, Saliko S. “Language Evolution: Contact, Competition, and Change”, Cromwell Press, Wiltshirem, Great Britain, 2009 Pp.197 3Hawksby, Lester “Philip’s Encyclopedia” Octopus Publishing Group, c2007., Pp. 505 4 http://encyclopedia2.thefreedictionary.com/YouTube

5http://neillangit.wordpress.com/2010/08/09/modern-balagtasan/ (August 9, 2010) 6Zafra, Galileo S. “Balagtasan: Kasaysayan at Antolohiya” Ateneo de Manila University Press, Quezon City Philippines, c1999., Pp. 4-11

7 Ibid., 13.

Chapter 2
Review of Related Literature and Studies

This chapter presents the related literatures and studies gathered from various books, published and unpublished materials, internet and other references which are related to the present study. This section also consists of synthesis of the state of the art, analytical framework, analytical paradigm, definition of terms, and notes.

Related Literature:
This present the related literature reviewed “Fliptop Battle: The modern

Balagtasan – An Analysis” is a product of research, and reading on several literatures and studies. Several books such as encyclopedias, journals, magazine, newspapers, audio-visual materials, and other standard reference were used. The Balagtasan: Kasaysayan at Antolohiya of Galileo S. Zafra is a collection of past events, origins, and literary works of popular “makata’s” in the Philippines since the era of Balagtasan has started and wrote about transforming the consciousness and fighting alien interests and the ills of the society concerning cultural awareness.1 In a documentary video done by Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho, it was discussed that Fliptop Battle is a new tool in preserving and reviving the forgotten oral tradition of the Filipinos namely the “Balagtasan”. Traditions of every ethnicity serve as an identity who they are and where they came from. Based on the documentary, the so-called Modern Balagtasan popularly known as Fliptop Battle is being practiced by youths anywhere such as in school, street, and bars.

On one of the video footage where CBCP’s Fr. Melvin Castro was featured, he stressed that Fliptop Battle is a very good invention of the youth and can be developed, purified, and elevate the quality.2 Saab Magalona (2010) is a writer of Philippine Star Newspaper. She featured and wrote about Aric Yuson, the founder of the Balagtasan of the modern day. Aric is the son of Alfred Yuson, a well respected Filipino writer and according to the interview done by Magalona, Aric has always been a fan of the battling aspect of hip-hop and watches different battle leagues online such as the biggest rap battle in the world Grind Time Now by America and Canada’s King of The Dot. “As for rap or emcee battles, I enjoy the spontaneity, competition, and of course, the relatively twisted humor employed in degrading your opponent” Aric shares. The facet is entertaining in itself, but ultimately he enjoys how concepts are formed and then articulated in battle verse.

He wanted to apply it to Philippine culture that’s why the Fliptop Battle was born. The merit of Fliptop Battle is to educate the masses on both hip-hop and dying culture in the Philippines which is the Balagtasan especially on the promotion of social awareness.3 In the documentary film done by Motorcycle Diaries of GMA News TV, Jay Taruc presented facts about the Fliptop Battle considered as the Balagtasan of the modern day, its nature, and how Fliptop battle is being practiced. The documentary also reveals that Fliptop Battle is somewhat a pathway for rappers to promote and educate masses about the hip—hop culture.4 “Teenagers have a playful mind that’s why it is natural for them to invent their vocabulary; in fact they can form little language.

Changes in Language are normal in every existing language like Filipino”. – It is according to Virgilio Almario, a Philippine National Artist for Literature on an interview done by Television channel GMA News TV on the show Balitanghali regarding the impact of Bekimon, Jejemon, and Fliptop Battle: The Modern Balagtasan to Filipino Language.5 In the July, 2010 issue of FHM Magazine, Fliptop Battle was featured together with the founder of it namely Aric Yuson, popularly known as ANYGMA. They presented facts about Fliptop Battle, its origin, behavior, nature, concept, and other important details. The article also stressed that “Fliptop Battle is one of the Youtube sensations of 2010 because it has gone viral with several of video hits million views in just a couple months”.

Related Studies:

This presents the related studies, which the researchers were able to find. The development of this study was taken from published and unpublished theses. The Published Doctor in Filipino Thesis of Galileo S. Zafra entitled, The “Dalumat ng Katuwiran mulang Duplo hanggang Balagtasan” is a study were Balagtasan is being invoked. It is the continuation of his past study entitled “Kasaysayan at Retorika ng Balagtasan. This study is vital to the following mainly the Literature, History of poetry, Ethnography of Native Culture, and to the Filipino and Ancestral Philosophy. In literature, it provides unique principles to elevate the native literature particularly in rhetorical and oral traditions of regarding verbal jousts and Balagtasan. In history of poetry, distinctions between poetical joust and Balagtasan from native rituals, it can be used as a cradle to reintroduce the history of poetry in the Philippines. In ethnography of native culture, this offers vital promulgation of fundamentals which will awaken the existence of past events and can be used as a tool for studying culture and data.

In Filipino and ancestral phisophy, the study could be a reference in philosophical discourse through the use of criticism. This study is related to the present study since both dealt with Balagtasan as a nearly forgotten tradition in the Philippines. Loreviza, et.al., “Philipine seditious dramas as a tool for social awareness” a study mainly to create social awareness on every readers and researchers about the events may happen on the environment using the most powerful tool on influencing the masses – Media. “As long as the world shall last there will be wrongs, and if no man objected and no man rebelled, those wrongs would last forever – Clarence Darrow”, as part of the community people are subjected to be more critical thinker.

If all of these wrongs get ignored, ancestral heritages would probably be forgotten especially the new generation. This study is related to the study since both dealt with social awareness. “Social issues are inevitable”, a phrase which was stressed on the study “Social problems reflected in the selected essays from Time Asia Magazine” by Bongalon et.al.,This study focuses on several essays concerning present social issues and aimed to have an understanding on the problems found in their surroundings and its implication to the society which has been taken for granted. In relation to the present study, both aims to persuade the masses in appreciating literary works and create social awareness regarding social issues.

Synthesis of the State of the Art:

The related literature reviewed helped the researchers on finding necessary information relevant to the present study, including the concrete definition of Balagtasan. The evolution of it from the early period to the present as well as how Balagtasan as a literary form has contributed to the lives of every Filipinos and how it mirrors the society. Especially on the Zafra has a wide scope of Balagtasan on his study “Ang Dalumat ng Katuwiran Mulang Duplo Hanggang Balagtasan”. He included the “Duplo” or poetic jousts in his study which is said to be one of the influences of Balagtasan although, the whole dissertation talks about Balagtasan itself. This study becomes the basis of the present study on the contextual of traditional Balagtasan and he then clearly portrays the Balagtasan as a whole.

He proved Balagtasan as a form of literature that has vital role in traditions which is culture to the Filipinos. The presentation of the Balagtasan is unique, original, and convincing because of his methodology and ethnography which lead to an evident of the literature and to the society where it belongs. Bongalon et.al., focused on persuading the masses in appreciating literary works of Filipino writers and to generate awareness in the social issues. They used essays from a magazine regarding social issues which nowadays have been overlooked by many.

Loveriza et.al., objective was to convince the readers as well as researchers to become more socially aware on their society and to be more patriotic in their cultural heritages which is similar to the present study. They used Philippine Seditious Drama as a tool which will aid on the witlessness of the present society and in comparison to the present study, both uses audio-visual materials. In this regard the researchers were inspired by this study because no one has yet conducted a research about the Fliptop Battle as the Modern Balagtasan considering that is new in the present society which has a great bearing and significance to the society as whole.


This study rests on the theory of Max Horkheimer’s (1937) Critical Theory. It deals with revitalization of radical, social and cultural criticism. This theory has two core concept: first is that “critical theory should be directed at totality of society in its historical specificity, and the second is that critical theory should improve the understanding of society by integrating all the major social sciences including geography, economics, sociology, history, political science, anthropology, and psychology.

2 The first concept deals with addressing it to the society through historical approach. In society, history is part of culture; failure to preserve cultural heritages will lead to overlooking. That’s the reason why Horkheimer have come up with this concept. The second concept states that critical theory should elevate the awareness of society by invoking the components of social sciences. A broad understanding of milieu particularly on societal components will aid on the preservation of cultural heritages and social awareness of every society. This theory aims not just to determine what was wrong with the contemporary society of the present but, by identifying progressive aspects and tendencies within it to help transform society for better.

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