Tuesday, May 7, 2013


Makaptan as portrayed by Roi Vinzon
in GMA Network's INDIO, 2013
Photo Credit: Dencio Isungga

Kaptan is known to ancient Visayans as the Sky God, he was highly venerated and known by ancient Visayans, especially those who live in the South Central Visayas on the islands of Cebu, Bohol, Negros Siland, Samar, Leyte and in Panay he was regarded as the king of all the gods, which puts him on par with Kan-Laon, the supreme deity of the Negrenses. Ancient Visayans of Negros and some Southern Islands though believed Kaptan was the first god created by Kan-Laon from his magical breath to arrange and rule the Sky and the lower heavens, the first alpha male that represents one side of the spectrum, balanced by the more submissive and cunning Magwayen.

Kaptan is pictured as a strong, capable, middle-aged man, proud and protective of his domain like a proud datu. He is also impulsive and easily angered or displeased, especially with deities or people worshipping other gods or heroes before him, and his favorite weapon of punishment is his devastating lightning bolts.

He was the Great Leader of the elder god pantheon in Visayas, and probably the only pantheon in Visayan myths that has a proper familial lineage and relations, like those of other cultures, especially the Western ones.

Kaptan was not alone in his realm, and the Visayans of the South believed he created Lihangin, his only son with his divine breath, the same way that he was created by the supreme god, Kan-Laon.  Kaptan gave his son, Lihangin, the power to control the winds that move and support his heavenly home, which proved to be quite useful during his significant albeit short war with the sea goddess, Magwayen.
According to them, Kaptan was also the maker of the first human race, creating the special seed that contains both the first man and woman and delivered it to Magwayen to plant and care for until it is fully grown. He did this after feeling remorse and regret for killing his 4 grandchildren, especially the lovely Lisuga, his only grand daughter and his favorite.

Kaptan's home is said to be a very big house in the sky and has steel gates for protection, from which he has windows that could see any part of the world, and therefore nothing escapes his eye. He could see through his magic windows anything on land, on the sky, even underwater. It should be noted that it was never mentioned that he can see what happens in the Underworld, which gives us a hint that his powers probably cannot reach it.

In fact, in one variant of the creation myth, Kaptan gathered the pieces of his grandchildren when they melted or shattered and used all his sky powers to try to revive them, for between him and Magwayen… he was the more persistent one in bringing them back to life. However, his attempts were of no avail, so he blessed them to emit light instead and set them in the heavens to be near him. In other myths, after Kaptan set them in the sky, Kan-Laon gave the moon, sun and stars some lifeforce when he saw them in the heavens one day when he returned to earth to see how Kaptan and Magwayen were managing with his world.

Most stories do not show how involved Kaptan was with the first people, except when he comes down to punish blasphemers, and one can only think that maybe Kaptan does not like being close to people or to associate with them as he is a higher being, though he keeps close tabs on them from his house in the sky. Kaptan is probably one of the most famous gods in Visayan myths, as he is known in almost ALL of the Visayan islands and was regarded as the king of all the gods, a supreme deity and father of mankind (except for Negros and a few Southern Visayas isles who regarded Kan-Laon as the most powerful)!

Alas, when the Spanish explorers came, worship for him did not stand the test of time, unlike Kan-Laon's, who until now in the modern age is thriving among indigenous groups living on or near the volcano that bears his name. Kaptan was easily replaced by Christianity, whose doctrine states that there is only one, most powerful and divine Creator who is above everything in this world and the Universe, and that Jesus Christ, his Word made Flesh, was sent to the world to teach mankind about the will of the Creator and eternal life.

And with that, Kaptan took the background, but his fame lives on in the hearts and minds of the Visayans all over the Philippines, as “Kaptan’s creation myth” is considered as one of the first known creation myths in Asia, and even the world!

Sketch Artist: Le Fou


  1. hay , i want to ask you , where the place for captan . example kanlaon place at mt kan-laon , thank's before

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