|Bale Batu king Dakeng Gulut|
On the side of the mysterious Mount Arayat lies a structure which at a glimpse would resemble a pyramid similar to the Mayans of Central America. This structure also resemble an Indian/Hindu structure with its intricate and elaborative design. But this structure is not built by foreigners but by a pure blood Kapampangan Artist Jesus Padilla or most commonly known Apung Susing. The Bale Batu (Stone House) can be found on your way to Gintung Pakpak. The landmark that will signal that you are there is the Baliti tree on top of a stone gate.
Bale Batu was built for about 40 years. According to Apung Sitang, wife of Apung Susing, the construction of the Bale Batu commenced on 1960’s. It took them 40 years to erect it because they would only work three months per year usually during the dry season. They would stop when the rainy season is about to engulfed the archipelago.
Bale Batu was constructed from Apung Susing’s own money. With his one-hectare land, the Padilla Family would plant crops and fruits. During the harvesting season, they would sell their crops to towns folk. The revenue that they would get out from their crops will be the money they would use to buy construction materials.
Different stories also stem when you will visit the grandiose stone house. According to Apung Sitang, Apung Susing is still there in Bale Batu. Sometimes when a traveler tries to capture photos inside and outside the Bale Batu they would get none but a white blank slate of image. Apung Sitang advised me that in order to capture photos you would have to seek permission from Apung Susing. It can be in a way, “Apung Susing malyari ku pu bang kumang litratu keti Bale Batu?” (Apung Susing can I take pictures in the Bale Batu?) The tricycle driver also mentioned that he always get goose bumps whenever he passed by the Bale Batu. It seems that a cold air passes by and this cold air was caused by the presence of Apung Susing.
On other hand, there had been stories that the design of Bale Batu was not from the imagination of Apung Susing. Some stories tell that Apung Susing when out missing and allegedly was in the kingdom of Apung Suku (Apung Sinukuan; the God who resides in Mount Arayat). After a long time, Apung Susing returned from Apung Suku’s kingdom with an idea to build a structure similar to the castle/house of Apung Suku. And the product of this ide was the Bale Batu. However this theory was being rebutted by the wife of Apung Susing. Apung Susing did not go missing. The Bale Batu was just a product of the artistic mind of Apung Susing … nothing more. Bale Batu was not patterned to any whatsoever Apung Suku’s castle.
With the death of Apung Susing six years ago the questions of what was the inspiration of constructing the Bale Batu will remained unanswered and will be washed away in the sands of time. But the legacy of Apung Susing, the Bale Batu, will continue to live on. A structure which was created by the artistic mind of the son of Indung Kapampangan. A structure which could be patterned after Apung Suku’s castle. It can be the living stone structure for Apung Suku…
Pineda & Padilla. April 29 2014. Personal Communication
Pineda & Medina. April 14 2014. Personal Communication
Pineda & Pangilinan. April 16 2014. Personal Communication
Lente (April 2014). Retrieved from http://www.headlinegl.com/bale-batu-an-artists-burial-temple/