Balisong Batangas: The ‘Hood of Butterfly Daggers

The Balisong family

Sinong Pinoy ba ang di nakakikilala sa balisong? Perhaps, there is no dagger as (in)famous in Philippine pop culture as balisong. The small, light and foldable dagger is really easy for anyone to hide it in their pockets—that is why it’s a crowd favourite. Being a “star” in Gus Abelgas’s show in the crime scene, balisong’s infamous legacy has developed a stereotypical image that “if you have a balisong, you’re feared by anyone.” Wow, seems that Panday has met his match! But people still wonder where does balisong came from, and they’ll soon find out that its origins are from the Land of A’la eh!

Welcome to Barangay Balisong, Taal, Batangas!

Balisong is a barangay in the heritage town of Taal in the province of Batangas. With more than 2,800 souls living, it’s only about two hours away from Manila via Tagaytay or even through SLEX. Kapeng barako may be strong but true enough, this province forged by fire has a fiery product that most Pinoys either feared or praised—the balisong. In other words, that famous “butterfly dagger” comes from Barangay Balisong, hence the name.

Balisong daggers

Along the highway going up north of the town proper of Taal (only a few metres away from the historic town center), you’ll see several stores along the highway, selling different kinds of balisong—and its affordable too! May Tatay, Nanay, Ate, Kuya, lolo o lola na balisong and whole lot more! Whew! Talk about expanded family!  Passers-by may want to purchase a key chain with a balisong for PhP50 (less than a dollar) or all the way to the size of a Japanese katana (or we know it as “samurai sword”). The handles come in at different colours and designs—choose what fits your lifestyle.

I look at Balisong as somewhat like a swordsman’s town. Seemingly, this would reflect perhaps on the warrior society of the Tagalogs and the courageous attitude of the Batangueños. This is the barangay’s main product, and people make swords and daggers for a living. I might even seek Batangas’s own Hatori Hanzo here (see Kill Bill)!

Balisong For Sale!

Unfortunately, I really don’t have the luxury of time to ask the sentiment of the people of Balisong on their product and their place’s name associated with dagger on a crime scene. However, the way I see it, this swordsman’s community testifies the fine craftsmanship and creativity of the Batanguñeos—a dagger that may rival Japan’s katana. Just take care and be responsible in handling balisong—it does wield power over life and death.

More Balisong and Batangas trip photos here:

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8 comments to Balisong Batangas: The ‘Hood of Butterfly Daggers

  • Medz

    Thank you for this article and for sharing your pictures.
    Batangas Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc.

  • bon

    how to make yout balisong smoother so i can draw it fast or make tricks and impress other peoples.because i bought these batangas balisongs and their soooo hard to draw.pls help me.i just bought them today :)

  • Hello Bon! Thanks for visiting. :)
    Sorry, I don’t have the knowledge on how to make a balisong smoother (even though if my grandpa was a blacksmith).

  • tong_t

    hi.. good day.. just want to ask the price range of these beautiful piece of art? can please anyone tell me… thanks..

  • Jay

    Bon: put oil on the pivot and keep playing with them. You want to keep the blade oiled too or it will rust.

  • thepinaysolobackpacker

    nice post Berniemack! I have to explore Batngas, kahet sobrang lapet lng samen. :(

  • Same here. Sometimes, the best things pala are just within our reach. Bigla kong naalala si Paulo Coelho at ang The Alchemist.

  • Cinco teros arnis in cavite!

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