The balitaw is an extemporaneous exchange of love verses between a man and a woman. Danced and mimed, it is accompanied by a song, or the dancers themselves sing, improvising the steps and verses. It may last for hours, ending with the woman accepting or rejecting the man's suit. The balitaw is found mainly in the Tagalog and Visayan regions. The dancers may be costumed in balintawak or patadyong or in contemporary everyday clothes. Its accompaniments could be provided by the subing(bamboo flute), castanets, coconut guitar, harp, the five-stringed guitar, or a combination of the three. The Visayan balitaw is usually in the minor key, while the Tagalog is in the major. Both are related to the kumintang and kundiman in their styles of accenting.
As sung in quatrain or ballad stanza in the Visayas, it is 'expansive and erotic in character' with accompaniment similar to the bolero, a Spanish dance also in triple time, accompanied by the dancer's singing and castanet playing (Molina in Filipino Heritage VIII, 2029). In words which may be humorous and full of energy, the typical Visayan balitaw speaks of all domestic phases of life, from love and courtship, marriage and separation, gambling and employment, child rearing, envious neighbors, to the dignity of labor. The Cebuano couple Pedro Alfarara and Nicolasa Caniban were titled the 'king and queen' of the balitaw at the turn of the century.
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