Stories, a lot of stories

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By Stella A. Estremera

Spider’s web

Saturday, August 16, 2014

KADAYAWAN brings forth not just a harvest of ruits and flowers, but a bumper harvest of stories.

The greatest source would be the Hiyas ng Kadayawan, especially if you were among the judges made to sit with the candidates for one whole day to probe their knowledge about their tribes.

You go home with brain teeming with once unknown words like shaitan that had this been Harry Potter then it’s someone who knows defense against the dark arts. Then there was the constant reference to a masjid, only to realize that masjid is the common term for mosques. (Common to them, the believers, not us, the clueless.) There’s even the torogan of the Labawans in Waan that stands there until today, but is no longer used.


Then of course, you get to meet the great DatuTulalang. Tulalang is a character in myths and legends of the Manobo. He’s all powerful and rode stuff like shields and airships. Yeps, Mindanao myths and legends are hip, and full of superpowers.

You’d also learn that sablay in our part of the world is a blouse and not the piece of cloth UP graduates hang on their shoulders during graduation and that the maidens of the Tausug sing with their fingers covering their mouth. Katintingan or to show your beautiful fingers but is really an act to hide the most of the face. The eyes are looking down and the hand covers the mouth in a graceful manner, like whispering into the ears of another.

Malong, that big piece of cloth we learn to wrap around our bodies as blanket, skirt, full dress, and tapis? They come in different names depending on the tribe. There’s Landap, the Os, and the dagmay, among many others.

Then there are the different songs and chants they do, the bayok to introduce what they are about to sing, the ulahing, the oranda.

The “never heard”, at least to me and my seatmate, until Iranun candidate Bai Mina mentioned it is the Kirim.

Her grandmother, she said, still writes in Kirim. She describes it as looking much like Arabic letters but in Iranun. The darangan, the sorrow of DatuBantugan is written in Kirim, she said.

Of course, there are the otherworldly, like the Lutaw, the spirits of bad people who died.

It’s fun to listen to history in the manner of a young woman of today where the Tausugs were the last people conquered in the whole archipelago, until one datu turned against his people and sold their land to allow Jesuits to enter what was once land that never hosted a Christian. “Yung natira, niresbakanyun,” Tausug candidate Fahmia said like telling a regular police story.

Browsing through my hastily written notes, there are more questions than answers as with the bits and pieces shared by the 11 ladies, with not much literature and studies to double-check on, the curiosity is sparked to chase those stories down and learn more of the Mindanao that have long been hidden from us.

Before this encounter with the Hiyas candidates, I was still trying to get to know Tulalang, Tuwaang, and Agyu. These superheroes of the tribes are so big by themselves, their stories can fill your days for months on end. If you’re not familiar with these names, I invite you to start to get to know them for in these names are the stories of the Mindanao people that we have long ignored. While you’re at it, get to know Mamalu and Tabonaway as well. Once you know their stories, you will come to realize that Malakas and Maganda and even Lam-ang were nothing compared to the colorful lives painted through oral traditions in our part of the world.



Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on August 17, 2014.


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