Sunday, May 26, 2013

Luyong Baybay profile

Luyong Baybay
Goddess of the Tides

The deity who controls the rising and falling of the tides. Her name Luyong Baybay is translated as “She who was born from the Sea” and was worshipped by ancient Visayan fishing villages especially in the island of Panay. One myth recounting her birth, states that she rose from Lidagat’s hair when she died and assumed her role as a sea goddess, while other say she is a daughter of Maklium sa Tubig who was a Panayanon sea god, and the rest tells us she is a sister to the 3 beautiful goddesses of the earth and a niece of Panlinugon. Another myth says that Luyong Baybay is very much infatuated with the Moon Deity, Libulan, that whenever he gets close to earth, the tides rise up because she is trying to get close to him. Luyong Baybay is also believed to have married a fire spirit or demigod named Paigrab and they had a daughter together named Magsauladung Biday, a mythical wise woman who lives near the beach and helps the fishermen in need of divine instructions to get a great catch. Luyong Baybay is also believed to be a causer of accidents at sea, fishermen who don’t properly treat her domain with respect especially when fishing find themselves a target of her watery wrath, capsizing their boat in a whim. Fishermen were advised to always give something back to the goddess as thanksgiving for a great catch (usually pieces of fresh red meat). There is also a folktale that says on nights of the full moon, Luyong Baybay would come up to shore and take the form of a lonely, young woman in need and she would seduce men back to her domain to stay with her for eternity. It was also believed that Luyong Baybay also knows the directions of mythical places like Gadlum (the land of darkness) the domain of Saragnayan, the god of darkness and his bride or Burutlakan-ka-adlaw which is the hidden realm of Lubay Lubyok Mahanginun si Mahuyokhuyokan, which in some tales were her brother-in-law and sister respectively.

Unfortunately for Luyong Baybay, her worship diminished following the Spanish invasion. Most Visayans went on to become Catholics and their belief on her started to disappear, and are replaced instead by venerations to the Mother of Good Voyage, Nuestra Seniora dela Buen Viaje, an aspect of the Virgin Mary who protects sailors and fishermen from calamities of the sea. Luyong Baybay however remains in the memory of the Visayan elders, and aslong as these wonderful stories of old is passed down from generation to generation, she will always stay alive in the hearts of the Visayan people.

Luyong Baybay arguing with Saragnayan
Children's artbook from Maria Yotoko Chorengel
Illustrated by: Bernadette C. Solina

Kasaraysarayan sa Silgan

Kasaraysarayan sa Silgan
God of Rivers and Lakes
He is believed by the Visayans to be the god whom all the rivers of the archipelago follow. He dictates how each river should flow and on what direction. In some Visayan communities he is known as Sumalongson and that he also controls the lakes and the estuarines that lead to the sea. In Panay, it was believed in the olden days that this particular deity lives in Tinagong Dagat lake in Lambunao, a fresh water lake which contains allsorts of freshwater fishes that the locals of the community depended on for livelihood and food. There was also a legend that in the early days, the mythical “goldfish”, a fish which was made of pure gold and would sometimes leave it’s golden scales on the lake floor, was a pet of this river deity and killing or capturing this mythical animal would incur his wrath. The ancient visayans would offer gifts and foods to this river god for safe passage while travelling his waters, making sure they do not disturb his peace while traversing the waterways. The ancient Visayans also believed that this god’s true form is the river itself, and that he was one of the deities blessed with the power of shapeshifting and that polluting or throwing away garbage on the riverbank would make this deity angry, causing flashfloods to happen with enough force to wipe an entire barangay out.

However when the Spanish took over the Visayan region, his worship decreased and people soon start to forget about this river deity, and instead opted to convert and worship God of the Catholic faith. Kasaraysarayan sa Silgan now only exists in the mind of Visayan storytellers who still remembers the mythical tales of deities in heroes by heart passed on from the elder generations of yore, when the world was young and every plant, land and life form was revered and treated with utmost respect.

Related Article: Legend of the Gabi Plant

One children’s folktale about the legend of the Gabi Plant (taro plant) states that once upon a time there was a girl named Matahumon Gab-i (Beautiful Night) whose beauty was the talk of the town. However this girl had a really ugly attitude, stubborn, vain and disrespectful of people, and as much as the people adored her beauty, they stay away from her or her house near the river because she was known to have an ill-temper and would throw stoned and mud at anyone who dares come near her property. One morning though, Matahumon Gab-I was bathing on the river when the river god passed by, he saw her beauty and was quite smitten by the maidens beauty at first sight. The river god wanted to marry her at once, and so he disguised himself first as a handsome youth. He approached the girl but she rebuffed him saying that she only wants mature gentlemen who has money and fame, and she returned to her house without even looking at him twice. The next day, the river god took on the form of a wealthy, older gentleman and knocked on the girl’s door. The girl opened the door but was unimpressed by the man in front of her and she shouted at him to go away. The river god pleaded for her kindness, and asked if he could at least let him in and give him a bowl of water to drink. Matahumon Gab-i was furious, so instead she gave the man a bowl of muddy water and threw it onto his face, and proceeded to threaten the river god with stones if he doesn’t leave her house. This time, it was the god’s turn to be angry and he revealed his true form to the lady, cursing her and telling her she does not deserve a beautiful name as Matahumon, she should have been named only Gab-I instead because her heart was as black as night. The girl realized the folly of her actions and knelt down, to beg for forgiveness, but as she opened her mouth, a sudden flash flood of muddy water from the river entered her house, drowning the woman and destroyed her entire house. The next day, everyone saw that Matahumon Gab-I’s house was nowhere to be found, even her body cannot be seen no matter how much they dig the muddy spot where her house once stood. And even if she had been so cruel and ill-tempered to all of them, they still felt sorry for her and began to weep for her till night time. And just as they were about to return to their homes that night, a plant suddenly grew in front of them. They studied the plant and they noticed that it’s leaves were waxy and rough like the girl’s heart, one of them chewed on a leaf and found it to be stinging and inedible, stating that it was just as bad as Matahumon’s attitude. One woman however decided to take the plant home and took care of it until it multiplied in her backyard near the river, she even named it after the girl and called it Gabi since it sprouted during the night time while they were mourning for her. One day, the woman had nothing left to cook in the house, and her entire family was starving. The desperate woman heard a woman’s voice that sounded like Matahumon from outside and so she followed it and it led her to the gabi patch. The voice then told her to uproot the plant and taught her how to prepare the root and the leaves, and in no time, she was able to feed her family. The woman thanked Matahumon in her prayers and she proceeded to tell the neighbors that Matahumon has repented for her ill-behavior and has brought them the wonderful Gabi plant as her repentance.

River God

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Lubay Lubyok Mahanginun si Mahuyokhuyokan

Lubay Lubyok Mahanginun si Mahuyokhuyokan
Goddess of the night breeze

Her very long name is roughly translated as “Graceful Movement of the Arrogant Breeze” and she is known to be the goddess of the night breeze and is the wife of Dumalapdap, the third demigod son of Alunsina and Datu Paubari and one of the heroes in Hinilawod.
Lubay Lubyok Mahanginun si Mahuyokhuyokan is also one of the “3 beauties” in the epic poem, they are a trio of beautiful Earth dwelling sister- goddesses who ensnared the heart of the 3 heroic demigod brothers of the story. This goddess is the most elusive of them all, even if her beauty is said to be legendary. She lives in a faraway, place called Burutlakan-ka-Adlaw (Land of Dawn)in the east tending to the plants and animals of the forest in her domain . She is a sweet goddess but she is wary of men, and do not trust them, she even has 2 guardian monsters to protect her place from unwanted visitors. She has 2 monsters; The 2 headed giant monster Balanakon which guards the ridge going to her domain and the scaly bat-like monster with poisonous sharp claws and teeth called the Uyutang which guards the gates. 

This from the book The First Cashew Nut ni Maria Yotoko Chorengel 
Illustrated by Beth A. Parrocha
In an old children’s folktale, she is also said to play around the forests of an island at the edge of the world or a middle world island that is away from human civilization(which turns out to be the ancient Guimaras), And it was from this place that she created the kasoy tree and punished it’s fruits for being too frivolous and giving her trouble. She is said to be a young woman, with long hair and dressed in soft fabrics like petals to a flower. It was her duty to bring the cool night breeze that helps the ancient people of Visayas sleep and dream of good dreams. Like her sisters, people would create songs about her and her beauty, and those songs were one of the first “love songs” for a goddess. Lubay Lubyok Mahanginun si Mahuyokhuyokan is a graceful and tender goddess, but she also has a short temper, just as what she had displayed with her own creation, Kasoy, and when she is angered by the people, she is said to take away the lovely night breeze and make the people suffer humid, warm nights instead, but all in all, she was a popular deity, who won the heart of the ancient mythic hero Dumalapdap and their love story lives on in Hinilawod.

During the Spanish conquest of the Visayan Islands, many gods and goddesses were replaced with Christian saints, and although the worship of Lubay Lubyok Mahanginun si Mahuyokhuyokan was ceased, they cannot erase her image as one of the important characters in Hinilawod, which is a very famous long epic poem of the Sulodnon tribe in inner Panay. The epic poem has garnered local attention and has been translated into plays which in turn gained an international following, showing to the world the rich culture, creativity and artistic talent of the Visayans. 

Related tale: Story of Kasoy Tree

In a beautiful forest somewhere in the islands of guimaras, there lived a kasoy tree, it had soft creamy flowers, small oval-shaped leaves and a sturdy trunk... everyone envied the kasoy tree, but the kasoy felt sad, since it cannot bear fruit. The kasoy tree prayed and prayed to the diwatas, until one night Lubay Lubyok Mahanginun si Mahuyokhuyokan (or LLMM for short), goddess of the night breeze, happened upon the tree while it cries. The diwata asked the tree what's wrong, the kasoy tree answered " I am blessed with many good qualities but I can't be happy for I cannot bear fruit!" The diwata, told the kasoy not to worry for in a month's time something magical will happen, and then disappeared. 

 The First Cashew Nut ni Maria Yotoko Chorengel 
Illustrated by Beth A. Parrocha

A month passed and the kasoy tree woke up to small little voices disturbing his slumber, and was surprised to see gold colored, bell-shaped fruits hanging, replacing the white flowers it had. The small voices came from inside the fruit, those were the voices of the seeds, all begging to come out and see the world. At first, the kasoy tree was happy, but each day the seeds complained louder and louder, irritating the kasoy tree day and night until he can't take it anymore, he prayed to LLMM, and later that night the diwata appeared, with an entourage of fireflies. She assured the kasoy tree again that everything will be alright. She touched one of it's fruits, and the kasoy tree felt a tingling sensation, and she gave it a tight squeeze until the seed popped out at it's end.She then clapped her hands and all the kasoy seeds were outside the fruit. They thanked the diwata for this opportunity and she went away again, carried by the night breeze to the other end of the forest.
The seeds were happy, and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the outside world, until nightfall comes again, and they became really scared, the creatures of the night and the sounds they make made the seeds unhappy, they soon started to complain once more. To make it worse, a thundercloud passed by, creating violent rain and thunder and lighting over the forest canopy, driving the seeds wild with fright. They began screaming in unison, begging to return inside the fruit because it is warm and safe, they said. Each night after that, the seeds, started to wail more louder and louder, because now they do not want to be outside for it scares them. One fateful night however, LLMM appeared to check on the kasoy tree, and the seeds begged her to return them inside once more. The goddess was angered by their frivolity and petulence and told them to shut up and took away their voices with her magic. She then looked sadly at the kasoy tree, and said her goodbyes, saying he will never see her again, before commanding the evening air to carry her far away from the forest. 

As the story goes, the seeds, learned to persevere the weather and the frightful scenes they saw at night, and it took a toll on them...the once straight seeds are now bent like a bean, and their outer shells hardened due to constant exposure to the wind, rain, and heat. And that is the story of the kasoy.


Rainbow Deity

Barangaw is a beloved deity from the Sulodnon pantheon of ancient Visayans living in Western Visayas. He is also one of the more popularly known deity because he has also
Art by James/Squeegool
been incorporated by other Visayan tribes in the archipelago, some even say his fame has reached the lands of Luzon and also in the more Islamic territories of Mindanao. Barangaw is known as the god of the rainbow, in the old days, the rainbow is thought of as a phenomenon that brings luck and victory… but most importantly the rainbow symbolizes hope against opposing forces in life. Barangaw is thought of as the guardian of this natural phenomenon that occurs after a huge storm or heavy downpour, thus he is also an important deity to pray to during times of war because a rainbow seen by his devotees are seen as a sign of a huge chance of victory against the other tribes. Barangaw is seen as an able-bodied man who guards the rainbow,

And the people long ago believed that it is also his job to transport the other deities from their home in Ibabawnon (Heaven) to Earth to visit the land and the people. In Antique, it is said he also help transport deities and worthy humans to the mountain fortress of the gods in Madyaas. He was also seen as a god of good luck, and rainbows during a wedding feast or village celebration is seen as a good omen.

Barangaw has been associated with a lot of good things, but even he too did not escape controversies in the old age. Some old folktales associate him as a god who prefers the company of lower form of spirits like the dwendes, taihos, busaw, and especially the Philippine Kentauride the Anggitay, which according to some legends was a mortal woman, who was vain enough to challenge and mock Burigadang Pada Sinaklang Bulawan, the goddess of greediness. The goddess punished her and turned her into a half-horse half human with golden hooves and a large horn for her foolishness and cursing her with endless thirst for gold that she will never find, but Barangaw granted the Anggitay a home beneath the rainbow. Due to this, local grandmothers would warn their children never to enter the forest when they see a rainbow unless they want to be spirited away by these mythical nature spirits. 

When the Spanish colonies established themselves in the Visayan Islands, Barangaw’s importance decreased due to the successful conversions of many Visayans to the Roman Catholic faith. In his place, grew a number of saints and angels that were seen by the ancient Visayans as better substitutes of their own gods. The devotions of the diwatas lessened and the veneration of the Catholic religion flourished little by little, and soon Barangaw was forgotten by many Visayans. His fame now lies in stories, when the world was young and the diwatas roamed freely. Barangaw, the noble rainbow god will always be in the minds and hearts of Visayans and a part of our country’s rich mythical heritage.

Story of Anggitay (the Philippine Kentauride/ female centaur) and Barangaw

Once upon a time there was a beautiful girl, a descendant of a datu who was punished by Lubay Lubyok ni Mahuyokhuyokan and turned into the first "taiho" or the Philippine Centaur, her name was Angga (means " love" in visayan) Angga was beautiful but very vain and selfish, the god Barangaw fancies her and wherever she goes a rainbow appears. She also had a penchant for shiny things and loved jewels very much, that she isn't above stealing the jewels and precious things of others to adorn her milky white body. One day, she happened to pass by a sacred grove of Burigadang Pada Sinaklang Bulawan and saw her servants, dwarves carrying gold on sacks, and followed them, she asked them to whom this bulawan belongs, they answered "only to the fairest among the earth's children, Burigadang Pada Sinaklang Bulawan". Angga got jealous and arrogant, and proclaimed herself being the fairest of earth's children, she then rushed home and told the villagers to build her a throne encrusted with jewels and gold and carry her back to the shrine of BPSB. Her arrogance and fury boiled over and shouted, "Nothing and no one is more fairer than me, only I deserve those earthly treasures!"  

In a flash of golden light, Burigadang Pada Sinaklang Bulawan, appeared before the girl. The townspeople fled but they were all turned into yellow field mice in a flash, BPSB then stepped hard on the girls toes, and they turned into golden hooves, she then conked the girl in the forehead with her golden slipper and a big ivory horn grew, she then cursed the girl for her folly of declaring higher than any deity and made her the image of her ancestor, the lusty datu, into a half-woman, half horse and everyone would flee from her hideousness. Barangaw however felt pity on the girl and blessed her with her good looks back, even though she still has a horn and is half horse, and gave her the power to ride the rainbow, and take shelter at the end of the rainbow. Up to this day, natives believe, when you see a rainbow, make sure of it, an Anggitay is at large at the end of it, still looking for Burigadang Pada Sinaklang Bulawan's coffer of gold!  

The curse of Burigadang Pada Sinaklang Bulawan turned the girl into the first anggitay, promising she would be reverted to normal if she is able to collect 7 sacks of gold. Barangaw promised to continue helping the girl, and they would hunt for it after the rain (BPSB does not like getting wet), however BPSB also blew some gold dust in her eyes, which makes her see mirages of golden forms from a distant, that way she is eternally bound to her monster form for she cannot finish her task!

Barangaw portrayed by Will Devaughn
GMA Network's Indio, 2013

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Saragangka Bagyo Profile

Saragangka Bagyo 
God of Storms

The name Saragangka Bagyo, strikes fear in the hearts of ancient Visayans, for he is known to be a wild, uncontrollable, unpredictable deity who really doesn't take sides that much. The name Saragangka Bagyo could be roughly translated as (Shielded Winds of the Storm or The Armored One of the Storm or Armored Wielder of Storms) is one of the fierce gods in the pantheon of Visayans in Panay, his name is even mentioned in the epic poem of Hinilawod. The Visayan islands are no strangers to big, impenetrable typhoons since the Philippines is near the equator and flanked by several seas and the Pacific Ocean, therefore making archipelago close to the breeding grounds of storms and typhoons, therefore it was natural for Ancient Visayans to thought of this storm god as an intimidating, fear-inducing deity. He is described as a god of awesome appearance, large physique and multiple wings which can cause the clouds and winds to mix and create a chaotic phenomenons like typhoons and tornadoes, with sharp blackened teeth or a black beak and claws on his hands and feet (while others say he has a body plated with armor or a shield, which the Hiligaynon term "sagang" which means to protect, shield or defend, and a giant staff to stir the heavens like a large cooking pot and create the

hurricanes below). In some myths, he turns into a large bird and disturbs the sky with the flapping of his wings, which causes the foul weather below, and people, especially virgin maidens who disappear during stormy weathers were thought to have been kidnapped by Saragangka Bagyo and taken in to his place in Ibabawnon to be his bride or his slave. They also thought that a ferocious god like this need live sacrifices to be appeased, using livestock and in worse cases human lives, like those of war prisoners or captive maidens. He is the most feared god of fishing villages and sailors, for typhoons can destroy whole villages by the sea with his powerful winds and large waves from the sea, capsize travelling boats of any shape and size, leaving many dead bodies along the coastline upon his wake.

On the other hand, Babaylans thought they could appease the god and appeal him to save their village from upcoming storms with offerings and prayer, they also would try to convince this deity to bring forth misfortune to other warring towns whom they have a grudge against, in return for sacrificial offerings of live sacrifice (usually large, fat livestock owned by the datus like carabaos, deer and wild hogs.) The babaylans would often cut the animals open, take the lean meat for the village to consume and leave the fatty and best parts for the god, like the fat, liver, heart, brain, intestines and the large bones. Sometimes he is also believed to accompany other weather deities like Ribung Linti in hunting down evil spirits in the sky, and he is said to have a close relationship with the ants because of a legend involving these tiny creatures earning his respect. Saragangka Bagyo is not seen in a bad light most of the time, sometimes he is also regarded as a hero god, for his strong winds protect town in high places from intruders and pirates, destroying the ships and decimating the armies of men with his fury who try to plunder the towns who sought his protection.

When the Spanish colonies started to appear around the Islands of the Philippines, the foreigners tried to eradicate all signs of pagan worship, and in the Visayas it was no different. Many gods and goddesses were replaced by Christian worship, and the idols of these deities were replaced by altars of saints, the Blessed Mother and of Christ. The Spanish however was not able to affect all of Panay, for they had hardship going to the mountains of inner lands due to the harsh weather and difficult landscape. The ancient Sulodnon thanked their weather gods, Saragangka Bagyo included, for they were spared from the Spanish invaders who have occupied the lowlands and the shores of Panay, and until today they are continued to be amazed by this storm deity's might and power.

Related story
Children's Folktale: The ants and the storm god

Once Upon a Time, the storm god, Saragangka Bagyo was bored in his heavenly home and decided to fly down to earth. He passed through a forest looking for something to pass time. He first passed a group of wild boars, and he told them he is looking for the strongest animals in the forest who can endure his test and they will be rewarded. The boars agreed, and the storm god unleashed his fury and they were all blown away, dying as they fell to the ground. Next, he came upon a group of eagles and told them the same thing. The eagles agreed to accept his challenge and huddled themselves on a big tree, the storm god turned into a big bird and with one flap of his wings, the tree uprooted and fell down, crushing the eagles. Next he came upon a school of fish by the stream and told them the same thing, the fish accepted and hid under the rocks, the storm god changed into a giant bird again and blew all the water out of the stream, leaving the fishes flopping helplessly, and he ate them all. It seemed that no one in the animal kingdom could survive the god's challenge, and the animals started to flee, making sure they do not come across him. Finally, he came across a colony of ants living in a mound under a mango tree, and gave them the same challenge. The ant queen was wise and knew the tactics of the storm god, so she accepted the challenge. First the storm god summoned the winds, and the ant queen ordered her children to go inside the mound, so they were unharmed. then the god changed into a bird and tried to peck and claw them out, but the ant queen ordered her children to go down deeper into the earth, so they were safe. The god became angry and impatient, he summoned all the storm clouds and created a heavy rain, and flooded the forest. The storm god thought he had finally drowned the little ants but to his shock, he saw all the ants floating in leaves and crawl up the nearest tree or plant they could cling on. Finally, the deity admitted defeat and praised the ants, he spoke some magic words and the ants felt something grow on their heads, it was a pair of antennae! Then the storm god told the ant queen, these are his rewards for earning his respect and that the antennae on their heads will tell them if a storm is brewing far away, thus giving the ants enough time to look for a shelter to protect themselves from the storm.

Storm God
Art by Yu Cheng Hong

Monday, May 20, 2013

Pahulangkug Profile

God of the seasons
The Philippines is a tropical country found near the equator, it is capable of only 2 kinds of seasons per year, the dry season and the wet/rainy season. For ancient Visayans especially the Hiligaynon group, they believe that the changer of the seasons is a god named Pahulangkug. Pahulangkug is thought to be an industrious god who works all year round, making preparations for the dry season by rounding up the warm winds and directing them in all directions, taming the unruly storm clouds and storing them in his giant magical pots until rainy season comes around, and in rainy seasons, he would open his house in the heavens, letting all the cold winds out, releasing the storm clouds from their containers and accompany gods like Ribung Linti, notifying the people of impending rains to come. Some believe he is some sort of wind deity that accompanies the winds and other gods on their journey all over the land bringing rain, wind, and storms all over the island, for ancient Panay natives who crossed over to Negros and have adopted some of their religious beliefs, including their gods, they believe Pahulangkug also accompanies the harvest goddess Lalahon in her journey of ripening palay and other crops, bringing warm weather to the land during the dry season and keeping the storm clouds at bay. One could say, that Pahulangkug is the director of both the dry and the rainy season, and without his guidance and permission, a season cannot begin.

Pahulangkug is an important deities for farmers, as well as potters, because both the farming industy and the pottery-making business rely on good weather to be able to work. The farmers pray and offer some of their crops and animals to him so that he will grant them rain and make the rainy season start early in order for them to plant their precious rice in their fields, sow the seeds of their crops, allowing animals to graze, get fat and reproduce before the hunters come once more. He is important to potters,for they pray to him for a warm, dry season so that they can have much heat and sunlight to harden their wares. Pahulangkug is sometimes also seen as a guardian of growth, since humans undergoes a certain number of "seasons" ranging from infancy to childhood to adulthood to old age, and people would pray to him for not only good weather but also a long life. Life expectancy in the ancient days were low, and many people perish through natural calamities, wars, disease and pestilence and in worse cases, famine. People would hold special rituals, dances and ritualistic singing to appease Pahulangkug, seeking his blessing for the first raindrops of the rainy season, and this is important since most of the livelihood of the inland groups back in the olden days rely very much on the land, farming and hunting included, and thus the weather is very much important to them. They would also hold special feasts in the god's honor after a successful harvest or planting of rice, as thanksgiving for hearing their prayers.

However, the introduction of Christianity that came with the Spaniards made the people forget their beloved Pahulangkug, although some ethnic groups kept their practices and veneration for him intact, most Hiligaynon islanders all over the Philippines replaced his rituals, with Catholic observances like going to mass, remembering feast day of saints, devotion to the Blessed Virgin and Christ and observing Catholic traditions like Lent and other Holy Days of the calendar. When the calendar was finally introduced, the popularity of Pahulangkug decreased even more, since now the people have a clearer idea how and when seasons would come and go. But Pahulangkug's legacy as the god of seasons, still remains in the few ethnic groups that remain untouched by foreign customs deep in the mountains of Panay, still praying to bless them with seasonal bounty.

Mapulon, The Tagalog counterpart of Pahulangkug, god of seasons
Artist: psyduck-mcGee

Ribung Linti Profile

Ribung Linti
Art by James/Squeegool
Ribung Linti
Deity of Thunder and Lightning

This weather deity is found in the Sulodnon pantheon in the island of Panay, the ancient Visayans think of Ribung Linti (Linti means “ lightning” in Hiligaynon) as the deity who is responsible of ushering in the rainy season and the master of lightning and thunder. He is also seen as one of the warrior/hero gods, they believe that his appearance is that of an able-bodied fighter or hunter and that the thunder was his booming voice and that his lightning was his “bangkaw”(bamboo spear) and his “binangon”(war blade) that he hurls towards unseen, dark forces and evil spirits that stay in the sky before the seasons change from dry to rainy. It was Ribung Linti’s job to let the people know that the rains are coming by flashing his lightning across the skies and shouting as loud as he can, so that people may start to go back to their homes and take refuge. 

The people of yore believe that aside from announcing the start of the rainy season with thunderstorms, Ribung Linti is also fighting off any lingering evil spirits in the skies, who managed to enter the island by riding the warm winds of “summer” (known as dry season in the Philippines) bringing bad luck to the people below. It is said that he hunts them in the stormy skies, throwing his mighty “bangkaw” at these mischievous, evil beings, and the people below can see this “spear” in the form of lightning streaking across the sky, followed by a loud thunderclap which they believe is the voice of the lightning god himself, shouting with glee as he pins his enemies. He is a beloved deity of the Ancient settlers in Panay, because it is with his presence that they can finally start to prepare for planting season, since thunderstorms are one of the first heavenly signs that the rainy season is just in the horizon. Other cultures in Western Visayas, believe that Ribung Linti is the leader of the “ heavenly parade of weather gods”, and that he is the first in line to cross the Visayan heavens when the god of seasonal changes, Pahulangkug opens the door of the rainy season in Ibabawnon (Upper World) . Ribung Linti is thought of as the master of this parade, clearing their path of evil spirits, guiding other weather deities, the winds, and the rain spirits on their heavenly path as they water the world once more. They also believed that of all the evil spirits in the skies and earth, Ribung Linti particularly hates the malicious tree spirits, and the evil dwarves, living in places called the “ bongsod” (termite/ant hill) and when lightning strikes the earth, the ancient people believed he is hitting one of these two malignant entities. 

There is even an ancient children’s bedtime story. The good dwarves of the earth, built a vine ladder for a year just to reach Ibabawnon and appeal to the lightning god for mercy, for he sometimes hits their homes with his lightning, thinking they were also malignant spirits who would harm the people. Ribung Linti was impressed with their dedication and for making the effort to visit him in his heavenly abode, that he told the white dwarves, that in order for him to avoid hitting their homes the next time the rainy season comes around, all they have to do is raise their little roofs of their houses (some say umbrellas) so that he would see them. The dwarves were happy and the next time the rainy season came about, they did exactly what was told, and today these little “ roofs” or umbrellas are what we now call as “uhong” or mushrooms that grows especially on termite hills after a thunderstorm. 

Aside from striking down evil spirits, Ribung Linti is also invoked by ancient babaylans as a god that grants them divine retribution on their enemies, criminals and most of all… blasphemers. It is said that the word “lintian”(those who would be hit by lightning) is a term in ancient times used for people who were marked as blasphemers of the society, people who disobeyed the laws of the gods and nature and would do blasphemous things like, stealing sacrifices and things offered to the gods from the altars,drinking the sacred “tuba” (wine from coconuts), defiling a babaylan, or betraying the datu and their community to their enemies. Nowadays the term “ lintian or lilintian” is a derogatory, cursing word in the modern Hiligaynon vocabulary and it’s use is frowned upon by Ilonggos all over the nation, they would even spank their children’s mouths when they hear them using that term to their friends and relatives. And on the other hand, Ribung Linti is also invoked as a deity who protects his patrons against accidental deaths by lightning, fire and storms.

When the Spanish conquistadores arrived in Visayas, they propagated Christianity and banned the natives from worshipping their own deities, and instead gave them saints they could venerate to help them with their everyday lives. Ribung Linti’s worship was replaced with the veneration of St. Barbara who is also a patron against lightning, fires, and storms and accidental deaths. Today, only a few untarnished Sulodnon communities in mountainous regions of Panay still have high regard for this lightning deity and still have him in their pantheon, and thus the beliefs in Ribung Linti continues to thrive on the hearts of these people for more years to come.

Ribung Linti portrayed by Steven Silva
GMA Network's Indio, 2013

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Luyong Kabig Profile

Luyong Kabig
Goddess of Snakes 

A deity found in the Panay pantheon of deities, Luyong Kabig (Kabig means tight embrace or draw/pull to oneself)
is the wife of the lesser Tungkung Langit, the Pillar of Heaven, sister-in-law of Panlinugon the god of earthquakes who lives in Idadalmun(Underworld). She is known in mythology as a guardian goddess in Idadalmun(Underworld) guarding the entrance against invaders/escapees together with her stream of snakes. She guards the entrance also from lost souls who wants to escape from the Underworld to join the mortal world, pulling them back into the realm of the dead with the help of her serpentine subjects. Naturally, she is seen by ancient Visayans of Panay as a goddess of snakes, reptiles that the ancient ancestors both revere and fear, and sometimes seen as a source of protein. She is venerated by babaylans, since snakes are seen in ancient times as messengers of the nature gods, they are creatures who are sensitive even to the slight changes occurring in the area, particularly, typhoons, floods and earthquakes. The ancient visayans have observed that snakes come out of their hiding places/burrows during earthquakes and floods, seeking higher ground away from danger, and encountering a large group of snakes running away is said to mean a big earthquake or flash flood is about to happen, and the ancient people follow suit. The babaylans would then offer live meat outside the community for the snakes to feast on, giving thanks to Lubyong Kabig for sending her servants to warn them of the incoming danger. She is also an important deity during the last rites of the deceased, they pray to her that she would guard the wandering soul of the dead, that she may keep a watchful eye on them in Idadalmun so that they will not come back to haunt them or get lost in limbo in the process of escaping from the Underworld. 
Hunters would pray to her asking for her blessing when they are hunting for snakes to accomodate the needs of their communities whether as food, as an accessory, or for medical/apotherical usage. 

Role as Goddess of Snakes, Sex and Fertility

Luyong Kabig is usually portrayed as a woman, with a snake around her waist or shoulder, or standing beside/on a stream of snakes, naturally, all types of snakes were sacred to her, and should be treated with reverence and respect, especially when killing it. People who have been bitten by snakes outdoors were said to have offended this goddess by committing a taboo against her subjects (these taboos usually include stealing eggs of a snake, eating a snake without praying, killing a snake without remorse or reverence, killing a pregnant snake to name a few) She is also said to have poor eyesight and relies on her nose a lot, a characteristic she shares with her subjects. There is even an old belief that when a person senses a snake has intruded their home, one should crush and throw garlic in all corners of the house to drive them away, since killing them outright is considered bad luck for the owner. She is also considered as a fertility and sex goddess due to the ability of snakes in coupling for a long period of time and prolificity giving birth/laying eggs and is invoked by pregnant mothers of some tribes for an easy delivery of her baby.

Importance during Spanish Acquisition:

When the Spanish arrived and introduced Catholicism, Luyong Kabig was regarded as an abomination, due to her affiliation with snakes, due to their bad reputation of being venomous or eating small livestock like chickens... but more importantly because ancient Visayans also practice very strange sexual customs, which the Spanish considered unnatural and inhumane. It was even said when they banned the rituals and practices linked to the goddess, the Visayan women wept all day and night with sorrow. Today, Luyong Kabig only exists in oral tradition, there is not much written about her or the mythical stories she played a part in, but her memory will always be preserved through the memories of village elders, ready to pass on the knowledge about this enigmatic goddess to the younger generation.

Snake Goddess

Sexual Practice associated with Luyong Kabig

The Spanish found out that the mating rituals of ancient Visayans can be quite sadistic/masochistic in nature. They want to emulate how the snakes mate for a long time by being stuck together for HOURS. They have "spurs and pins" for the male genitalia which allows the man to make love to the woman for along time,which of course could cause harm to the woman's sex organ. These genital accessories were designed for longer copulation and the Spanish observers thought of it as barbaric and decided to banned it's usage, they even thought they were doing the Visayan women a favor, and much to their chagrin the women WEPT day and night because their "exotic" treat is now a taboo !

Tungkung Langit profile

Tungkung Langit
Creation Deity and Pillar of Heaven

Tungkung Langit is a popular deity of the people of Ancient Panay, he is their version of the all-powerful, creator deity who made the world out of primordial chaos, his counterparts in the Philippine Mythology are Kan-Laon of the Negrense tribes, Bathala of the Tagalogs, Kaptan, the All-Powerful Sky God of the Visayans, Gugurang of the Bicolanos, Kadaw La Sambad of the T'boli tribe to name a few. However, there are 2 gods in the Panay pantheon called Tungkung Langit. Tungkung Langit continues to live on in the hearts and minds of ethnic Panay groups,especially those who escaped the Spanish Acquisition, and his stories continue to live on till this day!

"Tungkung Langit the Creator"

In the Panayanon Myth, Tungkung Langit was the hard-working god who created order out of chaos and made sure that things should be in their rightful place when he made the world. He was also the industrious husband of Alunsina, who was said to be jealous and lazy goddess who would rather spend time brushing her hair and admiring her beautiful self, while Tungkung Langit was perpetually busy arranging the universe. They had a quarrel when Alunsina thought Tungkung Langit was havign a secret affair behind her back and when he discovered her servant, the eastern breeze, Tungkung Langit scolded Alunsina for her pettiness. proclaiming that he would never cheat on her and that they were the only ones in the Universe. Alunsina ran away and he never saw her again, no matter how hard he tried to impress her and bring her back, his efforts were fruitless. He decorated the earth with flowers and trees and threw her comb into the sky to make the moon and her jewelled necklace to make the stars, but Alunsina was nowhere to be seen, and he forever lived alone in their majestic home in Ibabawnon (Upper World) and people believed that the rain they see during the wet season is Tungkung Langit's tears and the thunder is his voice, sobbing or calling out for Alunsina to come back.

"Tungkung Langit, The Pillar of Heaven" 

The other Tungkung Langit was a lesser deity, brother of Panlinugon, god of earthquakes. He was a god of immense size, gigantic in stature, The name "Tungkung Langit" means "Pillar of Heaven" therefore it was his duty to bear the skies upon his shoulders so that it would not fall down and crush the citizens below, this is most important job and it also says he never leaves his post as not to risk crushing the other gods and the citizens of Earth, much like the Greek titan, Atlas. This Tungkung Langit has a wife also, her name is
Luyong Kabig, she however lives in the Underworld, guarding the entrance as no live mortal may pass it accidentally or otherwise, until their time has come.

Alunsina with Tungkung Langit
adapted by F. Landa Jocano in Outline of Philippine Mythology

 (Manila: Centro Escolar University Research and Development Center, 1969).

Thursday, May 16, 2013



A prominent goddess in the Panay Pantheon of Gods, Alunsina also called “ Laun-Sina” is considered to be
Alunsina portrayed by Crystal Maria Esmero-Oliva
Hinilawod Play 2010
Photo Credit Chito Zubiri, MD
the virgin goddess of the eastern skies and the wife of Tungkung Langit (“Pillar of Heaven”). In a version of the Creation Myth found in the Panay Island of the Visayas. Alunsina’s name has been translated as the “Unmarried One”, “ The One from Foreign skies” and “ One who is Foreign”, these names connotes her title as a goddess of the heavens, as she is considered as a foreigner who came from the east (some say northern direction) before the world came into being.
Alunsina was believed to be also a goddess of astounding beauty, but she was also presented to be quite lazy, and would prefer combing her long, silky, black tresses than do any actual work in the creation myth.

In Hinilawod, a Visayan epic poem from the
Alunsina as portrayed by Joyce Ching
GMA Network's Indio, 2013
Photo Credit: Dencio Isungga
Suludnon tribe of Panay, Alunsina is believed to be the virgin goddess who came from Kaptan, a sister of Lihangin born after his demise, and was cared for by the Sky God so much that he protected her chastity from wandering eyes until she reached adulthood. Many gods sought the beautiful goddess, the most aggressive of the suitors was Maklium-sa-t’wan, the earthly god of the plains, Alunsina however, fell in love and chose a human husband named Datu Paubari.

Despite her conflicting origins, Alunsina was worshipped as one of the major deities in the Panayanon pantheon. She was regarded as the goddess of the eastern skies that brings in the light of the sun and cool winds during hot days of the dry season, she was also said to be a guardian against strong typhoons and of beauty and marriage, it was also said that she was the patron goddess of women especially single women and virgins, lovers, housewives and brides.
She was mostly venerated by young girls entering womanhood, due to her part in myths as being a virgin goddess herself before she was married, and they pray to her that she may help them find the right husband for them when they are of age to marry. In ancient Ilonggo housewives, Alunsina was a symbol or marital fidelity and a patroness against hidden affairs, and wives would pray to her that she will keep their husbands faithful and avoid them from straying or going away with other women in secret. There was an ancient belief among ancient Ilonggo farmers that when a wife would feed the husband’s beast of burden, usually a carabao, with grass blessed by the babaylan in her name, the creature will lead the wife to where her husband and his hidden mistress have built their lovenest.

Alunsina in GMA Network's Indio, 2013
Sketch artist: James/Squeegool

Alunsina’s popularity dwindled with the coming of the Spanish to the island of Panay, her worship and veneration was replaced by the veneration of the Holy Mother Mary of Catholic Christians and many Panayanons were baptized to the religion. However, unlike most gods of the Visayan pantheons, her fame and worship did not dissolve completely, since there are still some Sulodnon living in the mountains, untouched by modern civilization and religious reformation,therefore they continue on with their culture and customs. Thus Alunsina was saved and preserved not only through the mythical stories of yore, but also in the pantheon worshipped by Sulodnon families of Panay, who until now, continue the fight against modernism and Western influence.

Alunsina with Tungkung Langit
adapted by F. Landa Jocano in Outline of Philippine Mythology

 (Manila: Centro Escolar University Research and Development Center, 1969).



Lalahon is a mythical diwata found in ancient visayan folktales and written myths, her traditions has changed greatly especially since the Spanish conquistadores occupied the Philippines. She is seen as a goddess of harvests, guardian of volcanoes, and goddess against natural calamities brought about by volcanic eruptions, wildfires and earthquakes.

Lalahon as portrayed by Solenn Heusaff
GMA Network's Indio, 2013
In the old pre-Spanish days, Lalahon was more popular deity from the aeta and negrito tribes that live on forests in Mt. Kanlaon to the farmers on the plains of ancient Negros. The ancient Negrense groups who live in Mt. Kanlaon believe that volcanoes are like women, quiet and serene and beautiful sometimes, but can also be fierce, damaging and violent in it's outbursts, and the island of Negros itself has it’s own volcanic belt which were said to be the favorite haunts of Lalahon (aside from Mt. Kanlaon which is considered her home, she is also believed by the ancient settlers to also frequent, Mt. Silay, Mt. Mandalagan, and the complex volcano of Negros Oriental, Mt. Talinis. The malay neighbors that live in the Island of Negros adopted these aeta beliefs and Lalahon evolved into a representation of a woman, with hair of fire, ruby lips, eyes of hot coals and a beautiful body that can turn into a river of molten lava due to her associations with the Kanlaon volcano, while a majority also believed she is more of an agricultural goddess, in charge of harvest time and protectress of wildlife.

Her worship is predominantly found in the Negros Isle, which has it’s own volcanic belt and Mt.Kanlaon, the famous volcano in the island of negros and also a member of the Pacific Ring of Fire, it is also known as one of the “salad bowls of the Philippines” due to the rich minerals found in the soil around the area of the volcano, it provided the people with a rich assortment of crops, giving rise to Lalahon’s fame as an agricultural deity. The people in this region in the olden days believe she is also a harvest goddess and the goddess who brings in the bounty during dry season when harvest season comes aside from being the protrectress of the fields from calamities earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
Lalahon in GMA Network's Indio, 2013
Sketch artist: James/Squeegool

Lalahon is seen as a benevolent deity, often seen as goddess formed from the essence of Kan-laon making her his daughter, while some even see her as the female aspect of Kan-Laon who’s name means “ Eternal One”,”Exalted One” or “The One who moves Time”, while Lalahon’s name means “ the one who ripens”or “the one who brings the time of plenty”, these titles give a nod to her being an important harvest goddess and her relation to the Supreme deity of the Negrense people, Kan-Laon. These two deities have some shared similarities yet Lalahon is distinguished from Kan-Laon mostly due to a couple of reasons, one being the gender and secondly through their appearance and contributions in mythical stories. While most stories picture Kan-laon as the supreme god who left the mortal world and decides to spend eternity in his own heaven from inside Mt. Kanlaon, Lalahon is seen as the goddess who lives in Kan-laon and graces the people with her presence, time and time again, especially during harvest season, ready to grant abundance to the righteous and punish the selfish and the wicked. But even Lalahon wasn’t spared from controversy, some speculations include that she likes female virgins, since their flesh would make her even more beautiful, and if a tribe sacrifices a virgin princess from a warring tribe, she will be satiated and bless them with a good harvest and will spare them from catastrophes like volcanic eruptions and earthquakes for the year. She is also speculated to hate excessive noise, and in harvest times, she would send locusts to eat the golden palay to make the villagers miserable and hungry as punishment. She was seen as a deity capable of unspeakable cruelty but also venerated during harvest festivals, with a day of worship and sacrifice dedicated only for her. She has her share of the crops and also the finest wine or “ tuba”, spilled to the earth in her name so she can taste the bounty of the people.
Lalahon as portrayed by Solenn Heusaff
GMA Network's Indio, 2013

However, when the Spanish came, bearing with them the teachings of Christianity, Lalahon's image evolved again, linking her with an early christian saint named Sta. Agatha, the patroness against earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and also of nurses and against breast cancer. She was depicted during those days as a full figured woman with very large breasts and a veil of smoke, reminiscent of the catholic saint.

Lalahon remains to be one of the well-loved, independent deities of ancient times, a deity of multiple origins and functions; regarded as of noble birth; born out of the lava of Mount Kanlaon from the supreme deity’s essence, a female aspect of/from Kan-laon himself, she was also associated with a few visayan heroines like Catalina of Negros Oriental who is also believed to reside in the vicinity of Mt. Kanlaon and the legendary Princess Kansilay, a local mythical heroine of Silay, who’s patrons include Lalahon. Some babaylans believed that deep in the heart of the volcano is the ”gateway” to Kanlaon's Upper heavens and Lalahon is the goddess who protects that gateway, people who push their luck too far to gain access to this vortex are immediately punished by this goddess. The tobacco plant is sacred to her (as also to Kanlaon) and her favorite animal is the Negros spotted deer or Visayan spotted deer (which is now very endangered and near extinction one of the few fauna only found in Negros). The fire tree is said to be her tree and sometimes in the olden days, babaylans would go into a trance with sacred herbs and intoxicating “tuba” under the tree or near the crater of the volcano to gain wisdom from this impressive diwata.

Lalahon as portrayed by Solenn Heusaff
GMA Network's Indio, 2013

Chapter 3: The Gods of Nature

The Visayan pantheon, as a whole, is full of deities that the ancient Visayans show devotion and reverence so that they may be blessed in their everyday lives. Aside from the Elder Gods, the Visayans also worship other deities that do not belong to a certain “family tree”, so to speak. Some of these gods are believed to have risen from the bodies and essences of the elder gods that “ died” in mythical stories to continue with their works. New water deities sprang from Lidagat, while other air deities came about through the essence of Lihangin before he passed away or even from Kaptan or Kan-Laon themselves, and some even believed that earth and nature deities sprang from the body of the ambitious Licalibutan when he was transformed into the world himself to watch over the new earth. These gods are said to continue the work of the elder ones, keeping a watchful eye to the daily activities of humans and their interaction with nature.

One can divide the independent gods into two groups, the gods that watch over nature and the gods who influence the human society. This chapter deals with the gods of the natural world, gods of the wildlife that is revered by the ancient Visayans and respect with utmost esteem for they believe upsetting these gods could incur their wrath on their communities in the form of bad harvests, ill weather, lack of hunting game, volcanic catastrophes, earthquakes etc.

Nature gods with no definite pantheons are usually independent deities found only in a certain community, and whose popularity exceeded expectations and therefore are also known to other communities of the Visayan Islands, these are deities whose fame was spread through the need of migration, the importance of trade, even wars, wherein the introduction of the deities of the winning baranggay or the “captors” are also enforced into the belief system of the losing tribe. The Visayan ancestors are fervent animists, they believe that every plant, place, event or even animals have a dutiful diwata that guards them, and it is no surprise that they have a deity for almost every natural thing, whether they may have been their own or acquired from a co-existing community, these diwatas of nature dictate the cycle of life and surroundings of the people in olden times.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Creation Myth Variant 4: The Bird, The Sky and The Sea

Creation Myth Variant 4: The Bird, The Sky and The Sea
This version is said to be the pre-spanish and one of the earliest creation myths in the Philippines.

In the beginning, the earth only consisted of the endless seas and skies. The great bird, Manaul, flew across this sapphire expanse searching for a perch. Tired of his endless flight, he appealed to the god of the Sky, Kaptan, and to the god of the Sea, Magauayan, for aid but both did not give him anything, Manaul, dove into the deep blue sea and saw there was land at the bottom of it. And since the two gods would not help him, the great bird Manaul, devised a devious plan to make the two deities fight with each other by telling both Kaptan and Maguayan that the other wanted to take over their respective kingdoms. The plan of Manaul worked and Kaptan and Maguayan fell into a quarrel with each other over who was more powerful, they then sought to resolve this dispute by war. Maguayen sent furious and immense waves at his nemesis and Kaptan, meanwhile, unleashed whirlwinds that pushed back the seas to reveal the lands underneath. This went on for a long time, with neither gaining on the other, but the lands below the sea kept getting bigger and bigger, higher and higher as more of it is continued to be exposed due to the duel of the two deities. Manaul, desiring peace once more, then sent emissaries, the winds Kanauay and Amihan, to ask the gods to reconcile but Magauayan and Kaptan ignored their pleas. Tired of the battle, Manaul thus flew to the tip of a high craggy mountain overlooking the ocean, and gathered colossal boulders. He then dropped these on the warring gods and succeeded in stopping them.
Manual Bird
Ateneo Art Gallery
Art by Rodel Tapaya

When a lull was finally reached, Manaul flew down from his mountain perch until he landed near a tall clump of bamboo. A few moments later, he heard a voice inside the grove asking him to open the bamboos as those inside wanted to be free, and in some versions, Manaul stabbed his feet on a sharp bamboo spine and opened the plant up with a blow from his powerful beak out of spite. The bamboo plant split open and revealed to the world the first man, Sikalak and the first woman, Sikabay, who populated the place with their offspring.

Maguayen by Rodel Tapayas
Makaptan by FranzDG