Recently, I made a blog post about my experience during the 21st Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta: A Weekend Of Everything That Flies. Of course, we won’t stay there whole day waiting for all the hot air balloons to fly, or or else, we wouldn’t make the most out of our Pampanga trip. So after the morning show and before the afternoon show of the feast, we decided to visit the spots and eateries residents of Angeles City are proud to have. One of them is the Bale-Balayan, which is what they call as the museum for the poor and where the Anak Bale-Balayan are inhabited.
The Anak Bale-Balayan are the pride of Bale-Balayan Museum for the Poor Center for Transformation through the Arts, which is the home of more than 40 aspiring and talented kids. The Anak Bale-Balayan are mostly underprivileged children and the center gives opportunities to learn indigenous musical instruments and values for them to be knowledgeable about our Filipino/Kapampangan culture and other cultures from different parts of the world through cultural exchange by volunteers internationally. Every Anak Bale-Balayan has their own story to tell. They are granted the opportunity to engage in arts and culture for free. Through their talents and stories, Bale-Balayan truly leaves a mark on people who visit the museum.
– Anak Bale-Balayan
Entering the gate of the museum, the first thing I saw was the big mural painting beside the main door of the house. I don’t know if I heard him right but according to their spokesperson, this is Bale-Balayan Mission-Vision and they don’t have a mission-vision in words. It’s up to what the viewers see on this photo. And oh, the faces in the painting are the actual kids of Bale-Balayan.
The museum is divided into different sections based on the culture and countries around the world. But of course, the culture and region where these children belong to will be the first in line. As we all know, Pampanga is in Central Luzon, which is near the mountains of Cordillera. So this part of the museum shows the fabrics, masterpieces, wood carvings and the like of Cordillera region.
I noticed that this museum looks like a house or an old house transformed into a museum and given to the Anak Bale-Balayan and this region, which displays the stuff of the Spanish region, is their living room. Everything in here is antique from chairs, tables, lamps to the piano, harp and jars. But I could tell that these stuff were still rigid as we used them when we visited.
Wow! I think they built this stage, which is made out of bamboo sticks and other Filipino wood products on purpose so they can perform and showcase their talent in playing musical instruments of the Philippine ethnic groups. They even taught us how to play them. Obviously, this region is the rural Philippine section of the museum.
This video will prove how great they are in playing native instruments. In fact, this house is not just a museum but also, a center for transformation through the arts. And another fact! Recently, they won an award from Pupul Ning Banua, an awards day for Angeleños who have been making strides in the field of cinema, music, fashion, visual arts and literature.
The video was captured in the museum’s Asian region while this photo is taken from the Muslim region of the house. Just like the other sections, Bale-Balayan also houses the fabrics, art masterpieces, wood carvings, fixtures and indigenous materials that represent the Muslim heritage. I didn’t hear much of the story because I was busy observing the materials. So I have nothing more to tell. Sorry!
What amazed me the most is there prayer room or what they call Bale Panalangin because it exhibits flagellant’s blood, the thing they used in whipping which I don’t know the term and their crowns of thorn. Each visual masterpiece interprets the Station of the Cross. I couldn’t see the stations of the cross from this frames but I think that their way of depicting the stations is really creative.
And take note! They do not just exhibit the act of flagellation into frames but the children of Bale-Balayan also do it as part of their religious penance and demonstrated it in front of us. I can’t believe that they’re doing this at such a young age but we can’t blame them because it is part of their beliefs. After all, they said that rolling or wiping the whip at the back of the flagellant eases the pain.
As a center for transformation through the arts, Bale-Balayan had a space for a music room, wherein different kinds of native musical instruments, brass, percussion, strings and woodwinds, are placed. In this area, they have their music sessions and make their own music. I really enjoyed here because they let us play with them free and easy.
By the end of the tour, the guests will see more performances from the Anak Bale-Balayan which will definitely touch hearts. I literally cried when I realized how genuinely happy they are in Bale-Balayan despite of the stories they had in the past. I’m surprised that they are very hospitable in welcoming us to their home. You can feel that they are doing this not because it is a requirement, but they do this because they are willing to see people and share their craft. So if you happen to pass by Pampanga, visit Bale-Balayan. It’s free and open to everyone.