By Mary Michelle M. Bonifacio
An array of distinctive personalities will honor and pay a unique tribute to Jose Corazon De Jesus famously known as Huseng Batute on his 86th death anniversary May 26, 2018 at eight in the morning in his grave at the Manila North Cemetery.
The assembly that will happen for the first time include three former senators Joy Lina, Heherson T. Alvarez and Francisco Kit Tatad; incumbents Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, Cultural Center of the Philippines(CCP) President Arsenio Nick Lizaso, National Commission for the Arts(NCCA) Executive Director Rico Pableo, Trial Lawyers of the Philippines Association Atty. Pete Principe, former National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) Chairman and Knights of Rizal Supreme Commander Atty. Pablo Trillana, Mayor Rusel Pleyto of Sta, Maria, Bulacan, former chair of the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) Joe Lad Santos, among others.
Lina will sing Bayan Ko and Anak ng Dalita while Alvarez and Tatad will read poems of Batute Punong Kahoy, Akasya, Pamana and Manggagawa.
“This tribute and emulation of the great writer and poet Huseng Batute is very timely, historical and unique,” Sen. Panelo said when the invitation to sing the classic songs Pahimakas and Pakiusap where handed to him. “I am also honored to be part of this endeavor. Among the priority programs of the present administration of President Duterte is to project heroes and great men that set examples for the youth to love God, country, and people. I will sing the songs of Huseng Batute for his memory which I will also dedicate to the nation specially the youth and the seniors. I am an avid fan of Batute, a lawyer in profession who chooses the might of his pen.”
In his short 36 years life span, Huseng Batute wrote almost 4,000 immortal poems and lyrics that include Arimunding-munding, Pakiusap, Anak ng Dalita, Pahimakas, Madaling Araw, Ang Dalagang Pilipina and the famous Bayan Ko which is considered the 2nd national anthem of the country.
Huseng Batute was crowned as the undefeated King of Balagtasan, a title which he successfully defended for almost ten years. He was a member of the society of great poets that coined the word Balagtasan in honor of another great Bulakenyo Francisco Balagtas. The name Batute according to Zarsuela writer-director Elias Salamat Santos (1920-1975) means small “bato” which also means “noble but deadly”. National Artists Levi Celerio and Amado V. Hernandez were among the great Philippine artists that wrote and expressed unparalleled admiration and respect to Batute.
“Huseng Batute is a genius, charismatic and an artist for the masa,” the late Celerio said and was recorded by de Jesus nephew Nick Lizaso. “He was the Nora Aunor of his time. He can fill any theater or plaza with people from all walks of life because of his captivating power in reciting poems and lyrical union of words. No one in history that someone can equal Huseng Batute in his craft.”
The event conceptualized by another poet-writer Joe Lad Santos is a project of Tanghalang Banyuhay, Inc. in Valenzuela City, founded by award-winning playwright-director Roderick Alo of Mapulang Lupa Public High School Filipino department.
“I am very much inspired in working with the memory of this great maestro of masterpieces,” director Alo said. “And I am also very thankful to all that extende3d their support in many ways.”
Jose Corazon de Jesus was a native of Sta. Maria, Bulacan where he wrote many of his works. He was born in Sta. Cruz, Manila on November 22, 1896 and died May 26, 1932. Among his famous poems are Ang Pagbabalik, Punongkahoy, Akasya, Ang Bato, Ang Panday, Ang Manggagawa and the tear-jerking prize-winning classroom piece And Pamana.
Manila Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada notably is sending flowers during Batute’s birthdays and death anniversaries during the past five years of his incumbency as Mayor of Manila.
“He is a great man that should be respected and honored and be given due commemoration,” Estrada said when Tanghalang Banyuhay, Inc. presented him the program. “The people should know that Jose Corazon de Jesus was also a good actor aside from being a poet. Therefore it is my duty as an actor also, to recognize and give due accolade to a famous peer.”
Another mayor that lauded the project is Rex Gatchalian of Valenzuela. “Though our city is a major part of Metro Manila now, we are still Bulakenyos al heart because Valenzuela was formerly a municipality of Bulacan. As leader, I am also guided with the great thoughts of heroes like Huseng Batute and the lessons of history. I congratulate Tanghalang Banyuhay of my city in producing this project.”
Mayor Gatchalian sponsored the nationally recognized Malinta Elementary School Drum and Lyre Band to perform Huseng Batute’s Arimunding-Munding and Ang Dalagang Pilipina. In his part, NCCA executive director Rico Pableo encouraged groups like Tanghalang Banyuhay. “You are our true partners in and out of the grounds to bring to the people our mandate in shaping our society more in the field of arts and culture. Bulacan and Manila and the country in general is very lucky of having a Jose Corazon De Jesus.”
Gov. Willy Alvarado, a prime mover of Bulacan in the forefront of Philippine Hostory dedicated a full library of Huseng Batute memorabilla. “Bulacan is a province of great heroes. We have Marcelo H. Del Pilar, Gregorio Del Pilar, Maximo Viola, Kadalagahan ng Malolos, Francisco Balagtas of Floreante at Laura and notably Jose Corazon De Jesus.” Vice Governor Daniel Fernando is among the active Bulacan Officials in emulating heroes. “It is our duty to propagate the life, works and time of our heroes,” he said.
Among the partners of the project are CCP, NCCA and the Market Monitor Weekly.