Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Chapter 4: Gods of the Human Society

The Ancient Visayans also believed in deities that govern their own day-to-day lives, from important community decisions to even simple household tasks, as they trust that a deity is there to guide them to success or curse them with failure if they fail to acknowledge their presence. They have specific deities that preside upon them through important community events such as choosing leaders, declaring war, weddings, death and birth of a new life. Unexplainable and common human actions, state of being and feelings are also said to be works of diwatas, such as greed, lust, happiness, justice, and even salvation. There are also gods that preside over illness and healing, the body and the soul. These special gods hold a special reverence in every Visayan home, just as much as the people of yore have high respect for the gods of nature. Old folktales in Negros says that after the creation of the world was finished and the world is starting to be populated by the first people, Kan-laon gave a "spark of his/her divinity" which prompted to the different gods of the sky, land and sea to be born, in this story, the nature gods came first to make sure everything was ready for the first humans, and the gods of the human society came second after the first humans have established the first community. Another tale is that, after the mighty Kaptan killed his grandchildren and set them in the heavens as the sun. moon, and stars, and threw the body of Licalibutan on earth to make the first islands, the mysterious god Kan-laon used some of his power to bring back the life to these heavenly bodies and used the essence of Licalibutan to jumpstart the birth of the earth gods and later the gods of the human society. No matter how these deities started and influenced the daily lives of ancient Visayans, they played a role that gives us all a hint of how early civilization and the Visayan culture started and evolved until the Spanish conquistadores arrive, and although most of these deities were no longer worshipped today, they will always have a special part in molding the Visayan culture that we have today.

An illustration of Kan-laon sharing a "spark of divinity"
which gave life to the diwatas of nature and human society.
From Children's artbook of Maria Yotoko Chorengel
Illustrated by: Bernadette C. Solina



He is a deity in the Sulodnon pantheon that is featured prominently during the first part of Hinilawod as the most aggressive suitor of the virgin goddess Alunsina. Among all the suitors of the goddess, Maklium sa T'wan (sometimes called BAKHAW in the play) was the angriest when she chose to have the mortal, Datu Paubari as her husband. This mighty diwata devised a plan with his brothers to drown the couple while they are inside their house on the plains with a flash flood, though his plans were thwarted by Suklang Malayon who warned her sister and her brother-in-law to escape before the flood destroys their house.

Bakhaw, also known in Hiligaynon mythology
as Maklium sa T'wan from the Hinilawod Comics website
Maklium sa T'wan is the god of the plains, the forests and most animals, except for the snakes and reptiles of the land, and is considered to be one of the primary earth deities due to his vast association with the land, the flora and the fauna and as such is treated by the ancient Visayans with much reverence and respect. Maklium sa T'wan is also thought to be the ancestor of the diwatas who live on land and deities who govern human society. Being the resident earth god of the pantheon, a position that usually falls on a woman due to their nurturing nature and ability to produce offspring (i.e. Gaia of Greek mythology, Papa of Polynesian mythology) he is also thought to have the power of duality, having the ability to split himself into male and female spirits and mate with the other spirits of the land to produce more godly offspring, while others say he has the ability to give birth to other deities without any help at all. Among his descendants were Panlinugon, an underworld god and lord of earthquakes, the lesser Tungkung Langit who supports the sky on his shoulders, and his wife Luyong Kabig, his granddaughters Lubay Lubyok Mahanginun si Mahuyokhuyokan, the goddess of the night breeze, Nagmalitong Yawa Sinagmaling Diwata, the lust goddess and bride of darkness, and the golden deity of greed, Burigadang Pada Sinaklang Bulawan to name a few. Maklium sa T'wan himself was said to have descended from the essence of Licalibutan, god of the world when he died and his body fellon earth to form the great islands, some tales in the South say he appeared when Kan-Laon gave a part of his/her "spark of divinity" to all aspects of nature and space, giving birth to the diwatas governing both nature and human society.

He was widely worship by many tribes before, especially during planting and harvest seasons, hunting seasons and even during weather invocation ceremonies. Babaylans would often pray to him for signs and visions to guide them when would be the best time to plant and hunt for food. They would also give him blood sacrifices after a successful hunt as thanksgiving and tribal huntsmen were careful not to harm the young and were careful to avoid "sacred" areas in the forest, in fear that they may anger the forest god and will be punished by an incurable disease or pestilence and famine on their tribe.

from a Children's artbook by Maria Yotoko Chorengel
Illustrated by: Bernadette C. Solina

When the Spanish regime started on the Philippines, the worship of this deity suffered and declined, having to compete with the teachings of Christianity and the baptism of most Visayans to the new faith. His altars were replaced by churches, chapels and icons of Christ, the Virgin Mary and the Saints, nowadays only a few untouched tribes that escaped the modernization of the world revere Maklium sa T'wan, but his name will never be forgotten by the Philippine people due to his part in the epic poem of Hinilawod.



Maklium sa Bagidan (Being of the Flint) is the god of Fire in the Panayanon pantheon and was also featured in the epic poem Hinilawod along with his brothers Maklium sa T'wan and Maklium sa Tubig, vying for the hand of the beautiful virgin goddess Alunsina and ultimately losing out to Datu Paubari. He, along with his brothers plotted against the couple and agreed to the decision of drowning them while they are in their house with a violent flood from Maklium sa Tubig, although their plans were thwarted by Alunsina's sister, Suklang Malayon who warned her sister to evacuate in advance to avoid the catastrophe.

image of a fire god
Maklium sa Bagidan was worshipped as the god of Fire. He is described to be a god with a cheerful, happy-go-lucky attitude but can also be hot-headed when angry and very temperamental. He is thought by Ancient Visayans to be a spirit that resides in the flint, stones that the ancient Visayans use to make fire and they thought that the flame was a gift from him, making him one of the important gods of the household and the community, where some thought he also resides and listens to human affairs and stories which were told in community gatherings around a bonfire. Some also thought that the demigod Paigrab, husband of Luyong Baybay, the goddess of tides was his descendant and that the man inherited his hotheadedness and passionate spirit. He is worshipped by homemakers to avoid any mishaps while cooking, tribal leaders to help them with community decisions, and babaylans to provide them with divine visions through the sacred flames, which was used to burn offerings for the gods.

The veneration for Maklium sa Bagidan started to decline however when the Spaniards colonized the Philippines, the native people were baptized one by one to the Catholic faith and only the remote tribes who were unreached by the missionaries due to impossible landscape and bad weather that continually thwarted their efforts, were the only ones who would continue on worshipping the deities of old, and keep the spark of faith in Maklium sa Bagidan alive for generations to come.



Balud, also known in Hiligaynon mythology
as Maklium sa Tubig from the Hinilawod Comics website
Maklium sa Tubig (Being of Water) is the god who rules the Visayan seas in the epic Hinilawod. In the plays however, his name is sometimes BALUD (Tide) and is one of the suitors of the virgin goddess Alunsina. He also has two brothers vying for Alunsina’s hand in marriage, named Maklium sa T'wan and Maklium sa Bagidan. When the goddess Alunsina chose the mortal Datu Paubari as her husband, all the other gods were enraged by her decision and plotted against them.
Maklium sa Tubig was assigned by his brother Maklium sa T'wan to release a violent flood on the couple who lived peacefully on the plains, but their plans were thwarted by the goddess Suklang Malayon, who warned her sister Alunsina of the impending danger, which allowed the couple to escape ahead of time.

Maklium sa Tubig is also said to be the ancestor of the water gods of the Visayan Pantheon, as according to oral tradition of some tribes… he mated with the different aspects of water to beget his divine children which included Paiburong (the god of the middle world, which some also believed came from the elder brother Maklium sa T'wan, Kasaraysarayan sa Silgan, the river god), Luyong Baybay(goddess of the tides who is sometimes believed to be also a descendant of Maklium sa T'wan). He is also said to be the great uncle of Burigadang Pada Sinaklang Bulawan(goddess of greed), Lubay Lubyok Mahanginun si Mahuyokhuyokan(goddess of the night breeze), Nagmalitong Yawa Sinagmaling Diwata(bride of darkness and lust goddess) and also a brother/half brother of Panlinugon, an Underworld ruler and the master of earthquakes. 
As a sea god, he is also revered by the Visayan people living on the coasts as the source of aquatic life, giving thanks to him for a bountiful catch and offering prayers and sacrifices for a calm sea and a fantastic bounty. The Panayanons of yore see him as a benevolent god, who has an impulsive temperment and can stir the seas to make unforgiving tides and whirlpools that can do a lot of damage and claim lives of fishermen, thus prompting the people to never forget honoring him in their daily lives.

His worship was also replaced by the numerous Catholic saints whom the natives venerated when the Spaniards introduced Catholicism in the archipelago, and Maklium sa Tubig's fame and veneration was almost eradicated, except for a few native people who were unreachable and therefore, avoided the baptism into the Catholic faith... segregated from the modern world and free to worship their own pantheon as they please.


Paiburong as portrayed by Mike Gayoso
GMA Network's Indio, 2013

Paiburong is the mighty Ruler of Pagtung-an or the Middle World. It should be noted that during the ancient times, the Visayan ancestors’ once believed that the Earth is flat and that the “MIDDLE WORLD” denotes a vast expanse of water in the middle of the earth which travellers have to brave in order to get from one place to the next.

It is also a symbolic "crossroad" between the living and the dead and it is Paiburong's duty to guard the mighty expansion from island invaders, pirates to even lost souls who escaped the world below, also known as Idadalmun. Paiburong is described as a mighty god with immense strength and abilities to shapeshift, his favorite form is the mighty saltwater crocodile which was once abundant on the salty estuarines and sandy beaches of the Visayan archipelago, and naturally, this fearsome creature which is both revered and feared by travellers is regarded as one of his sacred animals.

Some tribes believed that Paiburong was nursed by a giant female crocodile when he was abandoned by an earth diwata on the shore of the sea. His mother, some say is the female aspect of Maklium sa T'wan (while some say it is Maklium sa Tubig) who mated with the different male and female aspects of nature and human society to beget descendants. He is also said to have been blessed by Magwayen with a magic shell that allows him to change size at will in order to pursue and defeat any intruder that comes close to his domain. Paiburong also has a wife, given to him by his sister or relative Burigadang Pada Sinaklang Bulawan when she saw the god in a lonely state one fine day and she felt pity for him. Burigadang Pada Sinaklang Bulawan fashioned a girl out of gold and breathed life into her and gave her to him as company. This maiden's name is Bulawanon (Maiden of Gold) .

Paiburong as portrayed by Mike Gayoso
GMA Network's Indio, 2013
Ancient Visayans would appease this god for safe passage along the seas and rivers, making offerings of meat and delicacies to appease the mighty crocodiles, allowing them to pass safely with their bangkas (small, wooden boats or balangays across the channel of water, some even say that the most fearsome of tribes would even give human tributes, usually a prisoner to these huge creatures.

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

When the Spaniards came to the archipelago, Paiburong's worship ceased and was replaced by Catholicism. The use of human sacrifice was banned by the foreigners and imposed heavy punishment on those who will practice it.
Due to his nature of being a savage god, Paiburong was slowly wiped away by the Spaniards out of their altars and his veneration slowly disappeared. Now this mighty god of the middle world could only be found in stories and oral traditions of Visayans who strives to maintain the culture and traditions of yore.