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Old 30th December 2008, 03:15 PM   #1
migueldiaz
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Default Balisong and the town of Taal

Just came back today from Batangas (with wife and kids), for a fast and furious overnight vacation.

On the way home to Manila, we passed by the town of Taal, in Batangas province. Taal is supposedly where the best balisongs in the Philippines are made.

And which part of Taal can it be? Well, how about a barangay called Balisong?
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Old 30th December 2008, 03:19 PM   #2
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Upon reaching Barangay Balisong in Taal town, balisong stores can literally be found left and right ...
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Old 30th December 2008, 03:25 PM   #3
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The store I checked out (pics below) appears to one of the oldest and most respected in the area.

Note in one of the pics the raw materials used for the balisong hilt (deer and carabao horn).
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Old 30th December 2008, 03:45 PM   #4
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Most of the balisongs cost just anywhere between Usd 2 (6-inch overall length [OAL], i.e., unfolded) to Usd 5 (11.5-inch OAL). The latter model translates to 29 cm in the metric system -- it is the most popular model locally (commonly called balisong veinte-nueve).

But let not the low price mislead anyone -- the quality of these Taal-made blades are excellent. I actually bought seven of them today.

The steel used for the blades are old ball bearings, hence they are very tough.

Occasionally, damascus steel (raw material form) arrives from abroad. And that's the pricey balisong in the line-up. The one shown below (about 8 inches OAL) is being sold for Usd 120.

The karambits hanging on the wall are priced at Usd 20 each.
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Old 30th December 2008, 03:48 PM   #5
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Just love the pics. I would be a kid in a candy shop if I were there. Too bad these guys don't have a website.


Thanks for sharing.

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Old 30th December 2008, 04:11 PM   #6
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Below are the seven balisongs I bought today.

The ones on the left are the 11.5-inchers (overall length, unfolded), and the one on the extreme right is a 6-incher (overall length, unfolded). The other pic is shown with a cellphone to give a sense of scale.

The one on the extreme left by the way is a trainer model. With that you can practice un/folding all you like without cutting yourself. Its hilt is made out of the thighbone of a horse (while the hilt of the rest is made of deer horn and/or hardwood).

As for the balisong in the middle and as mentioned in this old thread, the holes in the blade are purely for decorative purposes.

The blade serration is likewise decorative and was inspired by Rambo's (the movie) jungle knife, according to the old Batangas folks. The deeper indentation on the blade near the hilt is a bottle opener.
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Old 30th December 2008, 04:24 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LOUIEBLADES
Just love the pics. I would be a kid in a candy shop if I were there. Too bad these guys don't have a website.

Thanks, Lew.

Yup, I was on a drool-mode too all the time I was there As for the contact info of that store I bought from, I'll PM you their number in case you'd like to get in touch with him.

Full disclosure: I don't know the guy from Adam! Just met him today.
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Old 30th December 2008, 07:17 PM   #8
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Man, those look great! I'm so jealous. $5 for a good balisong? Incredible.
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Old 30th December 2008, 08:12 PM   #9
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Yes a $5 foot long
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Old 31st December 2008, 01:48 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ferguson
Man, those look great! I'm so jealous. $5 for a good balisong? Incredible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LOUIEBLADES
Yes a $5 foot long

Hi Steve, Hi Lew,

Yup the price is unbelievable. In fact I have to ask the storeowner 3 to 4 times as I can't believe my own ears

But upon closer examination, the Taal, Batangas pricing of Usd 5 looks logical -- about 30 miles (50 km) away in the neighboring Laguna province, there's this roadside balisong store in Alaminos town (pics below).

I also checked out that store and they sell their balisongs (made also in Barangay Balisong, Taal, Batangas) for Usd 10 each (the veinte-nueve kind).

So it's Usd 5 if it's "farm gate price" right in Bgy. Balisong in Taal, and then the price doubles at a store merely 50 km away.

From Bgy. Balisong to Manila, it's about 120 km (70 miles) away. Am sure that in a Manila store that pays rent in a mall with hired storekeepers (vs. a mom and pop operation in the provinces with no rent & overhead to cover), the same balisong will go for anywhere between Usd 15 to 20.

And make the same balisong cross the Pacific Ocean, then I guess the retail price would already be anywhere between Usd 40 to 60.

Which perhaps is just right given that the crappy smaller balisongs sell in the US for Usd 10 to 20:

Video of a crappy balisong that you can bend with your bare hands!

More balisongs of the Usd 10 to 20 (local US price) kind
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Old 31st December 2008, 01:54 AM   #11
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... more pics from the same Alaminos, Laguna store:
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Old 1st January 2009, 07:13 AM   #12
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With nothing else better to do on a New Year's day holiday I put one of the Batangas balisongs under the acid test -- the piercing of the local one-peso coin via the blade's tip.

The long and short of it is that it's so far so good (pic below).

I think though that I lack the technique because the coin is supposed to be pierced through to the other side. My furious stabbing of the defiant coin pierced the coin only halfway at best!

I don't have a good camera with me at the moment thus the pic below is crappy. But the tip of the balisong even after that mindless stabbing episode remained sharp and pointy.
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Old 2nd January 2009, 12:03 AM   #13
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I realize that we're supposed to focus here on ethnic weapons.

But I can't help but mention how the balisong has evolved into modern day "tacticool" knives. And some of those are pretty exotic designs that baffles one's imagination!

Most if not all of the images are taken from the blades board of a Filipino shooters forum.
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Old 2nd January 2009, 12:10 AM   #14
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Here's another interesting modern balisong, obviously inspired by you-know-who, and with real diamonds!

I'm not into these exotic stuff as it's not my cup of tea ... that is, aside from not having the sufficient funds to even entertain the idea

So I am posting all these for academic interest only!
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Old 21st January 2010, 04:34 PM   #15
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Lovely pics of Taal and the balisongs. I'm heading there in two weeks specifically to pick up a bunch.
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Old 21st January 2010, 06:09 PM   #16
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For those that keep track of such things, the blades made from ball bearings are most likely 52100, a very good steel;
Carbon 0.98 - 1.1
Chromium 1.3 - 1.6
Iron Balance
Manganese 0.25 - 0.45
Phosphorus 0.025 max
Silicon 0.15 - 0.35
Sulphur 0.025 max
Reference from metal suppliers online.

Just thinking out loud, I'd love to see these on the swap forum!
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Old 22nd January 2010, 06:17 AM   #17
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http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/attac...tid=37691&stc=1


These bolos are making me droooool


Quote:
Originally Posted by harimauhk
Lovely pics of Taal and the balisongs. I'm heading there in two weeks specifically to pick up a bunch.


Would you be willing to do a pickup? I'd be VERY interested in some blades

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Old 22nd January 2010, 01:41 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThePepperSkull
Would you be willing to do a pickup? I'd be VERY interested in some blades

Now you've planted a seed in my head as well!

was going to avoid buying more than 1 blade this summer...
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Old 23rd January 2010, 06:32 PM   #19
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I also went to Taal Batangas and visited Barangay Balisong. This place is a lot smaller then I thought. Still had a blast visiting there though.
I visited several of the vendors, but decided to buy most of my blades from a family whos father passed away. The two teenage sons took over their blade making business. Felt sorry for them.
Some of the blades I bought. $2-4 a piece.


Quote:
Originally Posted by harimauhk
Lovely pics of Taal and the balisongs. I'm heading there in two weeks specifically to pick up a bunch.


Are you a foreigner to the Philippines? Just know, it is legal to have Balisongs packed with your check in luggage, BUT they only allow a certain amount. I forgot the amount, I believe it was something like 6. You might want to ask them.
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Old 23rd January 2010, 06:35 PM   #20
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Since we sharing, heres my meager collection of modern day Balisongs.




My family stems from Batangas too. hehe
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Old 10th February 2010, 02:35 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dimasalang
I also went to Taal Batangas and visited Barangay Balisong. This place is a lot smaller then I thought. Still had a blast visiting there though.
I visited several of the vendors, but decided to buy most of my blades from a family whos father passed away. The two teenage sons took over their blade making business. Felt sorry for them.
Some of the blades I bought. $2-4 a piece.




Are you a foreigner to the Philippines? Just know, it is legal to have Balisongs packed with your check in luggage, BUT they only allow a certain amount. I forgot the amount, I believe it was something like 6. You might want to ask them.


Hi,

Yes I am. I bought two in January and the Customs guy at the airport tried to get a bribe out of me when he saw them in my suitcase. He tried to be discreet in the way he asked me, but I pretended I didn't understand what he wanted and he finally gave up. lol

I will be picking up quite a few items there. What would you guys like? PM me and I might be able to help you out. My first stop will be the guy Miguel bought his from.
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Old 10th February 2010, 08:23 PM   #22
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Expect a PM later today about some pickups, harimauhk!

When are you heading down to taal?
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Old 11th February 2010, 05:20 AM   #23
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Exclamation

Houston, we have a problem ...

There's going to be a presidential election soon here in the Phils. And every election period, there's a total ban on carrying firearms and edged weapons in the country.

Thus, while the storeowners will readily sell anybody balisongs, transporting them to Manila might be a problem because the local police have mobile checkpoints, precisely looking for people carrying firearms or edged weapons without authorization.

And then at the Manila airport, the balisongs will be subject to confiscation if detected.

Dimasalang must have bought his balisongs early Jan. 2010. At that time, the gun (and blades) ban is not yet in force ... or Dimasalang was just lucky. Yes, I think he's lucky because he just recently got a nice Phil. dagger for a very good price ... but that's another story

Just thought that I should mention this, so that people will get forewarned (and I sent harimauhk a PM).

Please see also this thread in a Filipino forum.
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Old 11th February 2010, 08:17 AM   #24
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ooh, unfortunate.

Thank you very much for letting us know, Miguel. It's most definitely not worth the risk to pick up a couple of balisongs if there is a ban in place.
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Old 12th February 2010, 07:15 AM   #25
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Hi Miguel,

Thanks. I picked up two in Jan without issue. I don't live in the US and balisongs are legal at home--I'm going to have them mailed out from Batangas directly so I don't have to worry about bringing them back to Manila.

Sorry guys, I have no intention of sending balisongs into the US.
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Old 13th February 2010, 03:14 AM   #26
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Miguel,

I found footage of the Panday Balisong you posted pictures of. This man is FAAST! I have an uncle from Banagas, who carried a beinte-nueve all of his life, and he was nowhere near as fast as this man is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7OjNyYfWx0
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Old 13th February 2010, 12:30 PM   #27
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Default Love ko Pilipinas

Quote:
Originally Posted by ThePepperSkull
Miguel,

I found footage of the Panday Balisong you posted pictures of. This man is FAAST! I have an uncle from Banagas, who carried a beinte-nueve all of his life, and he was nowhere near as fast as this man is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7OjNyYfWx0


Check your e-mail. I hung out with him today and bought some of the best balisongs he had to offer. He taught me how he opens them that fast too. He told me he was inspired to work on his openings after someone pulled a balisong on him on a bus in Manila in the '70s. The guy tossed it in the air and it hit the floor, so he bent down, picked it up and opened it the barako way (with two hands). He got really close to Mang Ona, who then pulled out his own balisong, and said something like, "I'm not joking to you!" in Taglish, The guy backed off, sat down and got off the bus at his stop. Ona's biggest worry at the time was the police, but fortunately, nobody called them (this was prior to the era of cell phones).

I also showed him my Emerson Combat Karambit which I carry practically everywhere. He loved it (but not the price). He said he thinks the karambit is the best fighting knife you can get because of the finger ring.

What an experience! I was so happy and proud to meet him and he told me he was happy and proud to meet me!

Last edited by harimauhk : 13th February 2010 at 01:01 PM.
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Old 15th February 2010, 03:38 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ThePepperSkull
Miguel, I found footage of the Panday Balisong you posted pictures of. This man is FAAST!
Yes sir, the man sure is fast. Reminds one of the samurai who can fell an opponent as he draws his katana
Quote:
Originally Posted by harimauhk
What an experience! I was so happy and proud to meet him and he told me he was happy and proud to meet me!
Looks like you are definitely having fun And congrats for the apparent smooth 'operation' you just did back there in Batangas.
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Old 16th February 2010, 12:30 PM   #29
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Salamat Miguel! Still waiting for the three I bought to show up by EMS, so hopefully they will. I was at Quiapo Church yesterday, so hopefully my prayers will get them here safely.



This was the first picture I took at Barangay Balisong. I took a jeepney there from Lemery after hopping in a van at Buendia LRT.




This is the second stall I visited in Barangay Balisong.



L. Rivera's stall. I really wish I'd gone back for a balicomb or two, but I hadn't had lunch and I was getting a bit dizzy. Next time I'll make sure to try some bulalo.



A small chapel right by the balisong stands.



Me and Diosdado Ona outside his stand! Unfortunately the other pics I took of his stand didn't get saved--I think I turned the ol' camera off too quickly.


An old American machete Mang Ona had at his store:



The kris dagger I bought there and the trainer balisong I got from Mang Ona. It was the last one he had, and he said he didn't want to sell it, but he knew I needed it. Got it for 210 Pesos ($4.60)



Blades out. I got the kris for 1000 Pesos. They wanted 1500 Pesos for it at Liza Villareal's store, but I made them an offer and they accepted it. It is surprisingly light. The bottom two were purchased in Manila for 400-500 Pesos each. Sorry Miguel, but AFAIK all the handle materials are horse bone. I bought one made with antler--if the other ones make it home safe, I'll put pics up of them.

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Old 17th February 2010, 03:18 AM   #30
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Default Got my new balisongs :)

On the right: 23 cm deer antler balisong. In the middle: my only veintenueve. Kamagong inserts. On the right--a kris blade balisong with narra wood and horse bone inserts. Assorted balisong keychains all around!
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