Philippine epic poetry
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Centuries before the Spaniards came, the Filipinos already had their own cultural traditions, folklore, mythologies and epics. There were substantial writings by early natives that Jesuit historian Fr. Pedro Chirino noted: "All of the islanders are much given to reading and writing. And there is hardly a man, much less a woman who did not read and write." (Relacion de las isles Filipinas-1604)
Stories of epics, done in poetry displayed tremendous vitality, color and imagination. Tales of love and adventures about native heroes, endowed with powers from the gods, battle monsters, and triumphs over formidable armies, rode the wind, traveled in flying shields and protect the earliest communities of the islands.
Established epic poems of notable quality and length blossomed. And early historians like Padre Colin, Joaquin Martinez de Zuniga and Antonio Pigafetta have all attested to the existence of these epics. There were even reports of a dramatic play given by natives at the arrival of Don Miguel Lopez de Legaspi in 1565.
Epic poems and songs about the exploits of enchanted folk heroes were performed during festivities and proper occasions. Most often, these epic poems (folk epics or ethno-epics) were titled after the names of the hero involved, except for some which carry traditional titles like the Kalinga Ullalim; the Sulod Hinilawod; the Maranao Darangan; or the Bicol Ibalon.
Stories about folk heroes of long ago were described as "Old Time History" because; they can be used to study the lifestyle and beliefs of the people who produced them. They were also referred to as "Lost", because they were soon forgotten by natives influenced heavily by Spanish and "western" colonization. The famed orientalist, Chauncey Starkweather , stressed that : "These epic romances are charming poem in the Malayan literature."
But there are those who perpetuated myths that in the early days of Spanish intrusion, priests in their zealous rage against paganism destroyed all existing records, as well as all forms of writing and art works, regarding ancient Philippine folk heroes. But this is not true. The colorful and fascinating literature of pre-Hispanic Filipinos are still here. Giving the new generation an over view of a heritage that is an unusual and invaluable source of joy and information. Regarding the life style, love and aspirations of early Filipinos. It is from these, wonderful epics, where a Filipino can find his or her national identity. It is from these that a Filipino can feel heroic, truly pulsating with splendor of a magnificent and authentic cultural force.
The Hud-Hud tells about the lives of native Ifugao heroes. The most notable was about Aliguyon of the
Mindanao Epic Poetry
The people of
The Darangan tells of the sentimental and romantic adventures of noble warriors, one of them, is about a warrior-prince called Bantugan.. Prince Bantugan was the brother of the chieftain of a village called Bumbaran. Bantugan owned a magic shield, was protectedby devine spirits called "Tonongs" and was capable of rising from the dead. Once his enemies attacked Bembaran, thinking he was dead. In the nick of time, Bantugan’s soul was recovered and he saved the village.
There is also an episode, where Prince Bantugan was on a quest and fought his enemies with his magic Kampilan (Native sword). Soon, he got tired and fell on to the water. A crocodile delivered him to his enemies, but he regained his strength, escaped his captors, and commands an oar less ship and won the battle.
There were also “Darangan epic poetries that relates stories of wars about abducted princesses. Just like the chronicles of the Trojan War.
The Darangan is one of the oldest and longest Philippine Epic poetries. Several nights were needed to recite the twenty five beautiful chapters. The Darangan, sung in it’s original, possessed a sustained beauty and dignity, it might be studied for it’s esthetic values alone.
Maranaw Epic Poetry
It tells about The Maranaw people have their own heroic epic, Indarapatra and Sulayaman. the heroic exploits of Emperor Indarapatra of the
The Flight of the Magic Spear – (Aliguyon)
Far above the sun set clouds,
In an arch of flaming splendor,
Aliguyon cleft the sky,
And fell upon a summit,
Of angry Budmatutun;
And thunder crashed,
Through the sullen hills,
And the mighty mountain split,
Throwing high a horrid vomit,
Of burning rocks.
And the tortured land,
Rocked and trembled.
The Ilocanos had their own, pre-Hispanic epic. Believed to be the work of many poets from various generations, the epic is called Biag ni Lam-Ang. (Life of Lam-Ang.) For the first time, the father of Ilocano poetry named Pedro Bukaneg put down the epic poem in writing around 1640. The hero, Lam-Ang could talk immediately after birth. He picked his own name, chose his own sponsor and asked for his father’s presence. Barely 9 months old, Lam-Ang fought against the headhunters who killed his father. He was also eaten by a sea monster, but was reborn from his retrieved bones. He also journeyed to get the beautiful Ines Kannoyan accompanied by his pets; a rooster and a dog. (This reminds us of an old Japanese tale titled Momotaro the Peach boy.) Ines Kannoyan’s place was filled with suitors, Lam-Ang’s rooster flap it’s wings and the long house toppled. This amazed every body, especially Ines. Then, Lam-Ang’s dog barks and the long house rose to it’s former. Lam-Ang gave Ines two golden ships filled with treasures, and then he married her.
From the Bicol province comes the Ibalon. The Ibalon relates the mystical origins of the first man and the first woman of Aslon and Ibalon, which are current provinces of Camarines, Albay, Sorsogon, Catanduanes and
His Village prospered and soon, others invented the plough, harrow and other farming implements. Events in this epic also had a flood story similar to that of the Biblical Genesis.
rulers of the island from the time of the Ten Malay Datus (rulers)
that settled from Borneo.
The "Legend of the Ten Datus (chieftains)" narrates about the forefathers
of the Filipinos and the story of ten Bornean chieftains who escaped the
chieftains plans to leave
into the night and across the wide ocean. At first, the ten rulers and
their families were afraid that they might perish in the middle of the
sea. Soon, they have reached the islands of
natives called Aetas.
The Aetas are quite friendly and decides to sell a piece of their land to
the ten chieftains. The chieftains gave the Aetas leader, Marikudo a
golden Salakot (Native head piece) After this; the chieftains and Aetas
lived in peace and harmony.
The Haraya is another epic poem from
conduct told in the form of heroic tales. The "Hari sa Bukit" of
island is a mythical epic of Kanlaon (
meaning "King" and "Laon" from a Malay word meaning "Ancient.")
and "Hinilawod" an epic poem made by the early inhabitants of Ilo-Ilo,
Aklan and Antique also from
The hero of Hinilawod, “Humadapnon” was of divine ancestry. He had super
natural powers and guardian spirits to protect him. His most exciting
adventure was his search for Nagmalitong Yawa: A beautiful maiden whom he
saw in his dream. He boarded his golden boat, sailed amidst dangerous
seas, and was captured by an enchantress. Finally, he found and won the
love of Nagmalitong Yawa.
The Bagobo tribe has an epic hero named Tuwaang (Tatuwang) Tuwaang was a brave and strong warrior with various powers. In one story, he rode a lightning to the
Dr. Jose Panganiban, in his book on Philippine literature mentioned that "Old Folks" in the Batangas area which anciently covered part of the Rizal province up to Morong, all of Laguna, Batangas, Quezon , Marinduque and the Mindoro Priovince, mentioned an epic that their elders used to chant but can’t remember. These are not definite stories. Only war songs and war dances accompanied with music on the "Kulintang". The "Kulintang", it should be noted, is a native "Tom-Tom" consists of a bamboo reed with "strings" raised up from its own fibers. Josue Soncuya mentions the epic that Dr. Jose Panganiban calls "Kumintang", in Chapter XIX of the Boletin dela Sociedad Historico-Geografica de Filipinas.
There was a tale around the 14th Century: King Soledan sent his sons Bagtas, manduquit and Likyaw of the house of Madjapahit to mai and Lusong which were then, part of the
Other Epic poems being written and chanted are:
The Sud-Sud of the Tagbanuas from Palawan The Dagoy, also from Palawan The Parang Sabil of the Sulo Muslims The Ulagingen and Selch of the Manobos The Panglima Munggona and Jikiri of the Tausugs The kalinga Banna Bidian of the Ibaloys The Sulod labaw Denggen …and, Agyu of Bukidnon.
Eulogio B. Rodriguez, former director of the Philippine National Library said that "Anonymous vernacular writers of past ages had no thought of bringing glory to their own, but labored with the central idea of transmitting to prosperity in a concrete and permanent form, the great mass of Philippine legends which was only preserved by word of mouth…With their work as corner stone, later writers have been gradually adding block by block to the literary edifice to approximate something similar to a national literature of our own."
When the late American Noble Prize winner William Faulkner visited the
" The Filipinos have their own traditions of poetry in their folklore, in their language and dialects. This must be recorded and that’s the job of the writers. In doing that, he gives a pattern of hope and aspirations for the people to advance not merely as a nation of people but as a member of a family of nations, the human family."
Portions of this article also appears in *http://victorinoparaiso.tripod.com/BuddyParaiso/ The Ranao Blog