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Philippine Folk Tales   By: (-1978)

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Philippine Folk Tales

Compiled and Annotated by

Mabel Cook Cole



From time to time since the American occupation of the Islands, Philippine folk tales have appeared in scientific publications, but never, so far as the writer is aware, has there been an attempt to offer to the general public a comprehensive popular collection of this material. It is my earnest hope that this collection of tales will give those who are interested opportunity to learn something of the magic, superstitions, and weird customs of the Filipinos, and to feel the charm of their wonder world as it is pictured by these dark skinned inhabitants of our Island possessions.

In company with my husband, who was engaged in ethnological work for the Field Museum of Natural History, it was my good fortune to spend four years among the wild tribes of the Philippines, During this time we frequently heard these stories, either related by the people in their homes and around the camp fires or chanted by the pagan priests in communion with the spirits. The tales are now published in this little volume, with the addition of a few folk legends that have appeared in the Journal of American Folk Lore and in scientific publications, here retold with some additions made by native story tellers.

I have endeavored to select typical tales from tribes widely separated and varying in culture from savagery to a rather high degree of development. The stories are therefore divided into five groups, as follows: Tinguian, Igorot, the Wild Tribes of Mindanao, Moro, and Christian,

The first two groups, Tinguian and Igorot, are from natives who inhabit the rugged mountain region of northwestern Luzon. From time immemorial they have been zealous head hunters, and the stories teem with references to customs and superstitions connected with their savage practices. By far the largest number belong to the Tinguian group. In order to appreciate these tales to the fullest extent, we must understand the point of view of the Tinguian. To him they embody all the known traditions of "the first times" of the people who inhabited the earth before the present race appeared, of the ancient heroes and their powers and achievements. In them he finds an explanation of and reason for many of his present laws and customs.

A careful study of the whole body of Tinguian mythology points to the conclusion that the chief characters of these tales are not celestial beings but typical, generalized heroes of former ages, whose deeds have been magnified in the telling by many generations of their descendants. These people of "the first times" practiced magic. They talked with jars, created human beings out of betel nuts, raised the dead, and had the power of changing themselves into other forms. This, however, does not seem strange or impossible to the Tinguian of today, for even now they talk with jars, perform certain rites to bring sickness and death to their foes, and are warned by omens received through the medium of birds, thunder and lightning, or the condition of the liver of a slaughtered animal. They still converse freely with certain spirits who during religious ceremonies are believed to use the bodies of men or women as mediums for the purpose of advising and instructing the people.

Several of the characters appear in story after story. Sometimes they go under different names, but in the minds of the story tellers their personality and relationships are definitely established. Thus Ini init of the first tale becomes Kadayadawan in the second, Aponitolau in the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth, and Ligi in the seventh. Kanag, the son of Aponitolau and Aponibolinayen, in the fifth tale is called Dumalawi.

These heroes had most unusual relations with the heavenly bodies, all of which seem to have been regarded as animate beings. In the fourth tale Aponitolau marries Gaygayoma, the star maiden who is the daughter of the big star and the moon. In the first story the same character under the name of Ini init seems to be a sun god: we are told that he is "the sun," and again "a round stone which rolls... Continue reading book >>

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