Tuesday, April 02, 2013

The Balila – a tool of discipline

I was at Palawan for work recently and brought home an unusual weapon for my collection.

The Balila is a machete-like baton used by trusted inmates at the Iwahig Prison Farm in Palawan to help maintain order within the facility. Unruly or undisciplined convicts get a taste of the weapon if they fail to follow the rules and regulations of the prison. The target areas are the arms and legs, and not the head or spine. The inmates allowed to carry the balila are under strict orders to not strike at those lethal targets.

The weapon is 24 inches (61 cm) long and 2.5 inches (6.35 cm) wide at its thickest point, at the tip of the blade. The thickness of the blade at the tip of the blade is .5 inches (1.27 cm). It weighs 12.17 ounces (345 grams).

It’s made from old kamagong hardwood logs that the inmates find in the forests near the penal colony, since they are strictly forbidden from cutting down any trees.

My first impression of the weapon is that it’ll hurt like hell to be hit by it. The small point of contact (1 cm near the tip) and the weapon’s bolo-like characteristics equates to serious blunt trauma if wielded with even a modicum of skill or intent. The one drawback is the uncomfortable handle, which I’m sure doesn’t bother the men who use these, having callused hands from working in the forests and the fields of the prison. I can just wrap the handle in some paracord and the drawback is negated.

The cheesy touristy artwork on this weapon contradicts the nature and use of this implement of discipline. It’s a fearsome weapon, one that certainly deserves a place in my weapon collection.

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