“Kapit lang Ma’am/Sir, Malalagpasan din natin ito”

An excerpt from a winning balak (poem), but more than that, it is but a timely reminder to hold on to hope and faith even if it’s as small as a mustard seed, for sooner or later, “This too shall pass”.

Balakdown (Balak sa Lockdown) was a search for the finest spoken word poetry, initiated by the BJMPRO-IX, Community Relations Service Division, to showcase the poetry writing and reading skills of jail officers amidst the absolute jail lockdown.

Every jail was represented by their best and brightest poet, making a total of eighteen (18) brilliant competitors in the aim of becoming the first ever “Balakdown Grand Champion”. There are two (2) rounds of the competition, with a different subject for each; Life of a BJMP Front liner and Bangon Pilipinas; We Heal as One, respectively.

After the first sweltering round of the competition, five (5) poets rightfully claim their spot on the semi-final rounds, namely, SJO1 Joseph Sabanal of Zamboanga City Jail-Male Dormitory; JO2 Alyzira Hilot of Molave Municipal Jail; JO1 Aljerose Alban of Pagadian City Jail-Female Dormintory; JO2 Al-Yashier Basirul of Isabela City Jail; and JO2 Janeth Altubar of Dipolog City Jail Female Dormitory.

Though equally talented and filled with passion, only one poet reigned supreme. JO2 Al-Yashier Basirul, Records and Logistic, JNOR of Isabela City Jail, emerges as the first finest spoken word poet in the whole of Region IX and awarded as the “Balakdown Grand Chamption” for cy 2020, Along with his bragging rights, JO2 Basirul also bring home a hefty cash prize of ten thousand pesos (10,000.00). Other major prizes includes six thousand pesos (6,000.00) for the first runner up, four thousand pesos (4,000.00) for the second runner up and two consolation prizes of one thousand pesos (1,000.00) each.

In the beginning it was just poetic performance, but after expressing their thoughts and sentiments and pouring their hearts out unto each and every word, it swiftly becomes a medium; a way of telling our side of the story; a platform for raising public awareness and acceptance; an opportunity to show our commitment and compassion, and; a call for camaraderie, cooperation and prayer, in the fight against COVID-19.

You may revisit all the performances at our official FB page – Bureau of Jail Management and Penology R-IX and listen to our stories.

by: JO1 April Roanne R Nono
Isabela City Jail