Your Yearly Reminder on Why a ‘Bayle’ May Make Things Better

By project iloilo

It’s going to be another year. For Project Iloilo, this means another Urban Baylehan.

Surely, can you blame us if we find another reason to celebrate? Not only is PI in its second year—THANK GOD—but we’ve also achieved a few milestones.

For instance, we had some writers get shortlisted for this year’s Globe Media Excellence Awards, and the huge interest you’ve shown for other initiatives we’ve held like the second official Pecha Kucha Night in Iloilo City last August further raised our profile in ways we couldn’t have imagined before.

Because of these, we now have proof of what we’ve always known to be true: Iloilo is more than just food, travel, or pithy hugot lines; it’s the culture that brought it to where it’s now, and Iloilo owes a lot to the community powering it—and yes, said community also includes YOU, dear reader.

So, if this is the first time you’ve heard of “bayle” being used to name an event, then we have to give kudos to Kristine Buenavista’s ‘Baylehan In My Mind’ as an obvious inspiration for it. Specifically, it’s this passage that gave us this idea in the first place:

The baylehan offered more than dancing; it was a small, intimate space shared by so many people from all ages and walks of life.

Iloilo City changed a lot from, say, 20 years ago—well, at least it looks fancier now—but the small-town core of the people populating it still remains the same: almost everyone here knows everyone, and we’re sure many Ilonggos would still prefer hanging out dressed in ratty shirts and tsinelas (though it’s still up for debate if you can do the same while attending a Catholic procession ceremony).

And because, at the end of the day, Project Iloilo is just made up of buki people at heart.

With that said, it’s right that we take stock of everything we—that is, Ilonggos, Filipinos, people—went through this 2016. It’s a year where almost every group was pitted against each other because of differences in politics and ideologies, and at the cost of denigrating the other’s humanity. For our world that’s supposedly “connected” with every region in the planet today, this is a chilling development.

So, what we’re NOT saying is that Urban Baylehan aims to solve all of these conflicts (though it feels nice to win a Nobel, we’d imagine); rather, we’d like the event to serve as a reminder that there is beauty in difference. Besides, it’s arguable that it’s precisely our differences that makes Iloilo a place worthy of falling in love with.

A community can be united, but it doesn’t have to be homogenized. PI has always lived by that ethos for two years, and we aim to continue following it as long as this website exists. It’s why you can see us publishing stories about local entrepreneurs who aren’t necessarily “Ilonggos” by definition along with ones about struggling metal musicians. Call it “culture” or even “subcultures”, but these are the people giving character to Iloilo.

Sure, the “character” that PI touts in its pieces about Iloilo aren’t all beautiful—or heck, even tourist-worthy—but we can say it’s real. And in these trying times, being “real” is the greatest sign of respect any website like ours can provide to its audience.

Urban Baylehan is the platform for those differences to be highlighted. We deliberately chose ‘Culture X Community’ as its official tagline because we believe these are the qualities that best represent modern Iloilo. To put it simply, we’ll steal a lyric from Kurt Cobain because we’re hipsters like that: it’s “come as you are”.

So, is 500-plus words enough to convince you go to Urban Baylehan on the weekend of January 13th-15th at the Atria Park District? Well, you better not waste all our effort into convincing you, then! For more details, visit the official Facebook event page here!

And as we usually say when we’re about to meet someone, kita-kits!