Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ynaguinid and Macanduc


Ynaguinid in GMA Network's Indio, 2013
Sketch artist: James/Squeegool
There are a few gods in the Visayan pantheon that play a significant role in important moments for a Visayan community, and Ynaguinid and Macanduc are examples of such deities. They are the personification of war and they also serve as inspiration and standard for ancient Visayans on the art of warfare, sieges and pillages. Babaylans and chieftains pray to these formidable gods to bless the warriors with their might, bravery and strength to overcome their enemies in the olden days, such as the Moros from Mindanao, whose raiding tactics have caused problems to Visayan barangays all over the Southern part of the archipelago. Ynaguinid and Macanduc are favored deities of warriors, war leaders, chieftains, guards and slave masters. They believed that these deities also awesome appearances to go with their titles: They are said to be able-bodied men covered in many tattoos, symbols of a victor and slayers of men, their dark bodies are smeared in coal or mud, their faces streaked with blood, their teeth sharpened like shark teeth yet blackened with coal and herbs. They were the epitome of bravery and victor in battles for many Visayan warriors, and they try to emulate them by also covering their bodies with coal, mud and red tints from herbs, sharpening and blackening their teeth, and when victorious in a skirmish, have their bodies tattooed to symbolize the men they killed in battle so that the villagers will glorify them more, raising their status in the village system.Ynaguinid is also known to be a deity of weapon and poison-making, and an old story once states that Ynaguinid appeared to a group of lost hunters or warriors as a beautiful woman of the forest, and taught them the secrets on how to create poisonous, oily concoctions by mixing poisonous plant oils from toxic floras such as the kayos/kolot, makasla and kamandag plants, to be used in hunting and wars.

Ynaguinid as portrayed by Sarah Lahbati
GMA Network's Indio, 2013
Ynaguinid also taught them how to extract viper venom and mix it in herbal oil to create the special war poison called, the "odto" which means "high noon" in english, for anyone who was wounded by any weapon coated with this poison was not known to survive by noontime (most battles of yore were done in early morning till afternoon) from and how to coat their arrows and "bagakay sibats" with these potent potions. It was due to these stories and contributions attributed to Ynaguinid that made this deity also the deity of poisons, and in the North of the archipelago till the Bicol region, Ynaguinid is also known as Nagined, and was paired with Makbarubak and Arapayan as the trinity of poison gods. Macanduc is a popular deity to southern and southeastern Visayan tribes of yore and was believed to be a really bloodthirsty deity, who loves spreading carnage and strife in the battlefields he walks on, taking lives of people from both sides without discrimination. It was also believed that he possesses tribe leaders and babaylans before the war, to empower the people with courage and a thirst for victory.

The Babaylan Asinas loses her voice after getting the ire
of Malanduk (Macanduc)
GMA Network's AMAYA, 2011
William Henry Scott, who documented the lives of ancient Visayans in the 16th century noticed some rites and rituals were made before war to appease the war gods. He noted that the ancient Visayans celebrated the art of sea warfare and excelled it, partly due to the fact that Moros tend to attack tribes from the sea and that the Visayas were made up of islands rather than a large mass of land. He noticed that one of the rituals Visayans do before going to a Sea Warfare is the ritual called, "pagdaga", which is a ritual of smearing the blood of the enemy on the prow and keel of the boats of the warriors. Ynaguinid and Macanduc are also venerated by weapon smiths, and prayers before making a weapon are customary as also are prayers done after the successful completion of a weapon. Ancient Visayans also kept idols of these war deities in the homes of the chiefs and head babaylans, and they bring them out on festivities such as the start and end of a war, to celebrate the warriors and the victors of these battles.

Ynaguinid as portrayed by Sarah Lahbati
GMA Network's INDIO, 2013
Photo Credit: Dencio Isungga
When the Spaniards came to archipelago, Visayan warriors fougth valiantly against these invaders, believing that they are blessed by the powerful Ynaguinid and Macanduc in their endeavors of protecting their lands and villages. While most of these tribes were successful in driving out the Spanish fleets, they soon found out that their pursuers were only gone temporarily, as the Spaniards came with more force and struck the Visayans hard, claiming victory in the end. They did not waste time colonizing the Visayan islands, and converting natives into the Christians. The Spaniards also ordered for the idols of nature gods and anything that reminds the natives of their old religion destroyed and burned, including idols of Ynaguinid and Macanduc, causing them to be forgotten over time. Nowadays, the powerful war deities Ynaguinid and Macanduc, and also the stories of bravery of the ancient Visayan warriors whom they inspired in life and in the battlefield, remains in the memory of the few surviving Visayan tribes all over the country, passed from generation to generation the the spoken word, and oral traditions these tribes still practice to this day.



Falling star photo courtsy of davmel.wordpress.com
Bulalakaw is said to be a deity who has the appearance of a gigantic, shining bird or a bird-humanoid hybrid, as some believed he looks like a thin boy wearing a bird-like headdress or even a genderless deity with a bird's head. Some stories describe him to be a diwata who visits the earthly plane in form of a comet, hence the name "bulalakaw" (shooting star).

Bulalakaw is regarded more of an omen than an actual worshipped deity, although he is worshipped by babaylans, it is usually to spare the villages of the disasters a "bulalakaw" may bring to earth. It was once believed that whenever a comet is seen, pestilence is sure to follow. In ancient times, the people thought that when a star "falls" it usually means a bad omen is going to befall their community, especially if the comet "falls" on rainy, cold seasons, when sickness is rampant in the community due to lack of modern medicine and proper hygiene and sanitation observed by ancient communities, but nonetheless… ancient Visayans believed that the bird god of illness can be appeased by performing necessary rites and rituals are performed by the shamans or "babaylans". Some of the rituals and rites involve sacrifice of the flesh for the bird god, in order for him to be satiated during his rare visits to earth. These sacrifices of the flesh in ancient times include, animal sacrifices, sacrifices of young maidens or children and even drawing of one's own blood or flesh and burning it in the community fire to satisfy the deity.

deviantart of the bird god of illness
from www.smitefire.com
It was also believed that anyone who sees the "shooting star" that fell to earth would be seriously blinded as a punishment from the god, or would suffer from an incurable illness, elders would tell the youth of the village to not look at the direction the bulalakaw will fall unless they want to suffer a great illness. Some babaylans would also tie this deity to war and famine, although he is mostly seen as a bringer of pestilence, as they believe that the nights bulalakaw is seen is a sign of other disaster about to come. Some babaylans would also burn some sacred "kamangyan" (incense) to appease the forest spirits and drive out the illness from the tribes, prompting Bulalakaw to leave and take the sickness with him back to Ibabawnon or Mt. Madia-as, a place that was believed to be a sacred ground for deities.

One should also take note that beliefs regarding Bulalakaw continued till the modern times, even as the Spanish missionaries converted the people to Christianity, and tried to change the belief's of the ancient Visayans, as the strong beliefs of this bringer of illness prevailed to this day, and until now whenever there is a comet that darts in the night sky, the superstitious folks would warn the children not to point at it, or bite their fingers when they do, warning them that Bulalakaw does not like to pointed at and might punish them for this deed.

as some believed he looks like a thin boy wearing a bird-like headdress or even a genderless deity with a bird's head. Some stories describe him to be a diwata who visits the earthly plane in form of a comet, hence the name "bulalakaw" (shooting star).