Structuralism on Philippine Creational Mythology
“Myths are sacred prose narratives which, in the society which they are told, are considered to be truthful accounts of what happened in the remote past” (Bascom 1965: 4). It functions as the accompanying narration that goes with cults and rituals – rituals that tell of events such as the beginning of time, origin of the world, mankind and other species, shamanism and many more. Others have the reverse idea that rituals are dramatized illustration of the myth. “Regardless of whether the myth or the ritual is the original, they replicate each other; the myth exists on the conceptual level and the ritual on the level of action” (Levi-Strauss, 1963, p. 232). These myths carry “events which are far removed in time, and yet from them came the present structure of society, which still depends on them” (Francisco R. Demetrio, 1978, p. 4). It is considered to be as ancient as man itself and is regarded as eternally relevant to the culture it embodies and to the continuity of life as a whole. “Like art and religion, myths have their roots in the underground base of the unconscious” (Eliade, 1963). The truth that it bears is not that of the truth of history, but the truth of experience, the truth of nature or the truth of life. As Demetrio (1978) explained, this is analogous to the truth experienced by an anguished person crying for the recovery of his sick child, who eventually finds a feeling of order after praying to God with all his might – an experience of peace, of resignation. With the use of structuralism, the significance of this paper is thus focused on unraveling the truth behind these myths which are products of the psyche as it has developed from the depths of the unconscious. It is always good to go back from where it all started. Through these “living fossils” (Francisco R. Demetrio, 1978, p. 6), specifically creational mythology, which continue to influence the life of man, we will try to find a connection from the past to the present that might just suggest the fate of humanity in the future. Ultimately, this will further help in understanding the Filipino mind and its culture.
The author chose three (3) Philippine creational myths from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao: The Creation Story (Tagalog), The Creation of the World (Bikol) and The Creation of the Universe (Bukidnon). The sampling is supported by the knowledge that geographical proximity implies close relation and intelligibility of cultural beliefs, rituals etc., as mentioned by Claude Levi-Strauss in his structural study of mythology: “the structural properties of myth and ritual may be shared by several tribes within a culture area, just as in language, phonetic and grammatical features may diffuse and areas of affinity be formed” (Levi-Strauss, Structural Anthropology, 1963). The author believes then that having one representative from each of the three main islands in the country would give out considerable meaningful discussion, even if the paper in analysis tends to reveal universals.
There are several known approaches in analyzing narratives. In the case of decoding mythology, structuralism by Claude Levi-Strauss and Ferdinand de Saussure would be the most prevalent and challenged at the same time. This methodology extracts the intellectual structures that build up phenomena manifested in the cultural reality such as kinship, art, religion, magic, mythology, social organization and so on. As Mary Douglas would put it in the case of analyzing mythology and its underlying accounts of experiences:
“Any experience is received in structure form, and these forms or structures, which are a condition of knowing, are generally unconscious. Furthermore they vary little in modern or in ancient times. They always consist in the creation of pairs of opposites, which are balanced against one another and built up various ways” (Douglas, 1967, p. 49)
These pairs of opposites which are qualities or ideologies are naturally conceived in the mind such as night and day, good and evil, light and dark, feminine and masculine, right and left, culture and nature, mind and body and so on. They constitute the basic elements of the structure of mythology. The relation between these dualities is where meaning is produced. “It assumes that the analysis of myth should proceed like the analysis of language. In both language and myth, the separate units have no meaning by themselves; they acquire it only because of the way in which they are combined” (Douglas, 1967). Consequently, a set of relations would make up what is called mythemes. In these relations of opposites (identifying point of connection), residues of differences will be isolated, from which may be correlated with other differences, so that a logical treatment of the whole will allow simplifications, the final outcome being the structural law of the myth.
Method of Presentation and Analysis
Since throughout the process of analysis, relationships of opposition, and correlation, and permutation or transformation of elements are identified, we have to “give up mechanical causality as an explanation and, instead, conceive of the relationship between myth and ritual as dialectical, accessible only if both have first been reduced to their structural elements” (Levi-Strauss, Structure and Dialectics, 1963, p. 233) Conforming to the principles of dialectics, Mary Douglas has mentioned the emergence of a mediator between binary oppositions, as an element of the structure, which appears as a synthesis product, a combining factor, or a probable source of a new branch of duality:
“the structure of myth is a dialectic structure in which opposed logical positions are stated, the oppositions mediated by a restatement, which again when its internal structure becomes clear, gives rise to another kind of opposition, which in its turn is mediated or resolved, and so on” (Douglas, 1967)
Therefore in the method of analysis of mythology, binary oppositions and mediating elements must be distinguished which are drawn from a dialectical perspective. At the same time, this will reflect the continuity (diachronic aspect) of the narrative. Relations between the oppositions and mediating factors will be discussed until eventually, a set of relations or mythemes arise. Each of the three (3) creational mythologies that are sampled will be subjected to the abovementioned process. Finding universals or dominant relations and mythemes among these mythologies with their implication to the said significance of the study will lead to the conclusion of this paper. However one problem needs to be addressed to heighten the credibility of the analysis, as significantly noted by Douglas:
“The meaning of a myth is partly the sense that the author intended it to convey, and the sense intended by each of its recounters. But every listener can find in it references to his own experience, so the myth can be enlightening, consoling, depressing, irrespective of the intentions of the tellers. Part of the anthropologist’s task is to understand enough of the background of the myth to be able to construct its range of reference for its native hearers” (Douglas, 1967, p. 65).
Thus, it is imperative that integration or relation of the results to the existing knowledge and observations on the subjects and on the whole of Filipino culture will also be included throughout the discussions. Reflections on the methodology used and on the outcome of the whole study will be shared at the last part of the paper.
PRESENTATION OF DATA AND ANALYSIS
The Creation Story (Tagalog)
When the world first began there was no land, but only the sea and the sky, and between them was a kite. One day the bird which had nowhere to alight, grew tired of flying about, so she stirred up the sea until it threw its waters against the sky. The sky, in order to restrain the sea, showered upon it many islands until it could no longer rise, but ran back and forth. Then the sky ordered the kite to alight on one of the islands to build her nest, and to leave the sea and the sky in peace.
Now at this time the land breeze and the sea breeze were married, and they had a child which was a bamboo. One day when this bamboo was floating about on the water, it struck the feet of the kite which was on the beach. The bird, angry that anything should strike it, pecked at the bamboo, and out of one section came a man and from the other a woman.
Then the earthquake called on all the birds and fish to see what should be dome with these two, and it was decided that they should marry. Many children were born to the couple, and from them came all the different races of people.
After a while the parents grew very tired of having so many idle and useless children around, and they wished to be rid of them, but they know of no place to send them to. Time went on and the children became so numerous that the parents enjoyed no peace. One day, in desperation, the father seized a stick and began beating them on all sides.
This so frightened the children that they fled in different directions, seeking hidden rooms in the house – some concealed themselves in the walls, some ran outside, while others hid in the fireplace, and several fled to the sea.
Now it happened that those who went into the hidden rooms of the house later became the chiefs of the islands; and those who concealed themselves in the walls became slaves. Those who ran outside were free men; and those who hid in the fireplace became negroes; while those who fled to the sea were gone many years, and when their children came back they were the white people.
Five binary oppositions were identified from the story: 1) the sea and the sky; 2) earth and water; 3) man and woman; 4) enough population and overpopulation and; 5) stayed (loyal) and went away (emigrant).
The kite stirred up a struggle between two hostile forces of the sky and sea, thus the earth was created. It follows the theory of being in a state of chaos only to be fashioned into a birth of newer forms through creation. The land breeze (earth) and the sea breeze (water) then were said to be married and produced a bamboo where the first man and woman came out. It is a common motif that the principal resources for the creation of human being are soil and water. These elements are primordial and are by origin, divine or semi-divine. In a sense, human beings also carry a god-like essence. The role of the kite when it pecked the bamboo to release the autochthonous parents on earth supports the notion that the birth or rebirth of mankind is done with the help of a symbolic bird. This also suggests the close relation between animals especially birds, and humans considering each as blood brothers.
As told by the story, it upholds that nature called on for a man and a woman to get married and procreate. This gives an idea that fundamentally, human beings are meant to populate the world. So children were born and from them came the different races of people. Once there were a few, and suddenly the population boosted. And as mentioned, many became idle and useless. The father, as the leader and head of the family put order over the situation which stimulated fear from his kids. Those who remained loyal to their land stayed, while others went away and found their own places where they feel would suit them better. From this, cultural, social and economic stratifications arose.
The last part of the story is very much relatable to what is continuously happening in our country. Overpopulation leads to somehow backwardness and unproductivity of a community – and a leader shall set rules and regulations to address the situation. Consequently, it is natural that men might feel reluctant or get a sense of inconvenience, even fear towards things that are new and have suddenly changed. Through hardships that are encountered as life is pursued, some stay to help fix the problem, while others leave for a while or for good hoping to achieve a better life. From here too, opportunities may arise wherein one may economically succeed or fail. The emigrants who had families from foreign countries and came back to their homeland, contribute to the cultural diversity that is ever changing and developing in the country. Hence, there formed structures in culture and society.
How the World Was Created (Panayan)
One of the stories about the creation of the world, which the old folks of Panay, especially those living near the mountain, do not tire relating, tells us that in the beginning there was no heaven or earth – only a bottomless deep and a world of mist. Everything was shapeless and formless – the earth, the sky, the sea and the air were almost all mixed up.
Then from the depth of his formless void, there appeared two gods, Tungkung Langit (Pillar of the Sky) and Alunsina (The Unmarried One). Just where these two deities came from it was not known. However it is related that Tungkung Langit fell in love with Alunsina and, after so many years of courtship, they got married and had their abode in the highest realm of the eternal space where the water was constantly warm and the breeze was forever coo. It was in this place where order and regularity first took place.
Tungkung Langit was an industrious, loving and kind god whose chief concern was how to impose order over the whole confused set-up of things. He assumed responsibility for the regular cosmic event. On the other hand, Alunsina was a lazy; jealous and selfish goddess whose only work was to sit by the window of their heavenly home, and amuse herself with her pointless thoughts. Sometimes, she would go down from the house, sit down by a pool near their doorstep and comb her long, jet-black hair all day long.
One day Tunkung Langit told his wife that he would be away from home for sometime to put an end to the chaotic disturbances in the floe of time and in the position of things. The jealous Alunsina, however, sent the sea breeze to spy on Tungkung Langit. This made the latter very angry upon knowing about it.
Immediately after his return from the trip, he called this act to her attention saying that it was ungodly of her to be jealous, there being no other creature living in the world except the two of them. This reproach was resented by Alunsina and a quarrel between them followed.
Tungkung Langit lost his temper. In his rage, he divested his wife of powers and drove her away. No one knew where Alunsina went; she merely disappeared.
Several days after Alunsina left, however, Tungkung Langit felt very lonely. He realized what he had done. Somehow, it was too late even to be sorry about the whole matter. The whole place once vibrant with Alunsina’s sweet voice, suddenly became cold and desolate. In the morning, when he woke up he would find himself alone and in the afternoon when he came home, he would feel the same loneliness creeping deep in his heart because there was no one to meet him at the doorstep or soothe the aching muscles of his arms.
For months, Tungkung Langit lived in utter desolation. He could not find Alunsina. Try hard as he would. And so, in his desperation, he decided to do something in order to forget his sorrows. For months and months he thought. His mind seemed pointless, his heart, weary and sick. But he must have to do something about his loneliness.
One day, while he was sailing across the regions of the clouds, a thought came to him. He would make a big basin of water below the sky so that he can see the image of his wife, if she were just somewhere in the regions above. And lo! the sea appeared. However, Alunsina was never seen.
After a long time, the somber sight of the lonely sea irritated Tunkung Langit. So he came down to the Middleworld, and created the land; then he planted this with grasses, trees and flowers. He took his wife’s treasured jewels and scattered them in the sky, hoping that when Alunsina would see them she might be induced to return home. The goddess’ necklace became the stars, her comb the moon and her crown the sun. However, despite all these Alunsina did not come back.
And up to this time, the old folks in Panay ay that Tungkung Langit is alone in his palace in the skies. Sometimes, he would cry out his pent-up emotions and his tears would fall down upon the earth. The people say that rain is Tungkung Langit’s tears and that is why in some localities in the island of Panay, the first rain in May is received with much rejoicing and sacrifice. Incidentally, when it thunders hard, the old folks also say that it is Tungkung Langit sobbing, calling for his beloved Alunsina to come back – entreating her so hard that his voice thunders across the fields and countryside.
There are five main relations of oppositions in the above story: 1) sky god (Tungkung Langit): sea goddess (Alunsina); 2) chaos or uniformity (natural): order or organization (culturally regulated); 3) life (creation): death (absence); 4) marriage: separation and: 5) fulfillment (completeness): dissatisfaction (incompleteness).
It has been told from the myth that the world was once a chaotic place. All known elements such as earth, wind, and water were all mixed with one another and that clouds are the only thing that existed. This is a manifestation of chaos and uniformity, and that before things were created, this is the natural and orderly state of the cosmos. On the other hand, on an earthly setting or perspective, after creations were done, the former condition is viewed as disorganization or without structure – for in the present world, to put order is to be aware of the distinction of things which are culturally and socially regulated. It is through this same sense that the two opposing characters Tungkung Langit (Pillar of the Sky/ Sky god) and Alunsina (The Unmarried One/ Sea goddess) are related.
As mentioned, the sky god Tungkung Langit is kind and loving; he is responsible for creating order and regularity in the cosmos and other mundane things. He is also the sky himself and the pillar which makes it stable.
On the other hand, Alunsina, the sea goddess, who might be a mermaid because of her long hair which she forever combs, is an insecure and a selfish goddess. This jealousy that was portrayed by her acts is a cover-up to what she was really meaning to convey – which is that she does not like her husband imposing organization over things; that she wanted the uniformity and oneness of things or the natural order to remain. She is also who they call “The Unmarried One” which implies that even before she married Tungkung Langit, she has been living on her own, complete on her own – no concept of duality, but everything as one.
Between the two mentioned characters, Tungkung Langit indeed symbolizes order and organization, which inevitably results to creation, hence, life. However, Alunsina symbolizes disorganization and chaos, or denial of creation, hence, death.
When Tungkung Langit kicked Alunsina out of their abode for the ungodly deed of her, Alunsina was found nowhere. This gives the idea that, for change, creation of new things and organization to proceed, conservatives are needed to be eradicated. Alunsina is the long lost knowledge about the natural and autochthonous state of uniformity and oneness.
When the two gods started to live together, they were both happy and so each of them felt a sense of order and peace in the ethereal world. This did not last and Tungkung Langit admitted a feeling of loneliness and incompleteness. To compensate for his dissatisfaction, he created water and earth, flowers, sun, moon and stars (which was made of his wife’s jewelry). In this sense, Alunsina might have been lost but then was revived as the ‘mother earth’.
The creation might have filled the gaps in Tungkung Langit’s life for a moment, but in absolute reality, he would eternally wait in vain, feeling a sense of incompleteness – for his wife is never coming back. In relation to this, it is through conventions and regulations that are culturally and socially imposed on earth, that unity is hampered and made impossible. Thus, no one is experiencing perfect state and ultimate happiness – for Alunsina has been forever gone. And that the opposition between fulfillment and dissatisfaction will never be resolved unless, Alunsina comes back in the form of ‘mother earth/nature’ and then brings back chaos and uniformity to earth.
The Creation of the Universe (Bukidnon)
In the beginning there was only a small circular space of intense brightness called a banting. It was surrounded by a rainbow. And only three beings existed.
Two of them sat facing each other in the narrow confines of the banting – one was good, the other evil.
One was the supreme planner, a good Being that looked like man. His name was DIWATA NA MAGBABAYA which means “pure god who wills all things”.
The bad Being also had a human body but he had ten heads, continuously drooling sticky saliva. His name was DADANHAYAN HA SUGAY which means “lord from whom permission is asked”.
These two were held up by a third Being suspended above them who had a hawk-like head, powerful wings and a human body. The hawk-like Being was continually flapping his wings in order to balance the banting because of the two Beings in it who were constantly bickering. The beating of his wings produced the wind. Only the winged Being could cool the heads and thus he was their guardian. His name was AGTAYABUN which means “adviser” or “peace-maker”.
One day Diwata Magbabaya, the Planner Being who looked like man, thought of enlarging the banting. To steady it, he created the earth – the banting was in the sky – so that the poor being could rest.
Diwata Magbabaya was a good planner. He knew, however, that he would have need of the soil on which the Ten-Headed Being was always so difficult to convince. The god with eagle wings immediately saw the problem. Swiftly, he swooped down and scooped some soil from under the Ten-Headed Being.
The Ten-Headed Being was startled and furious. “Why do you get what is mine without my permission?” He asked. “Don’t be angry” said Diwata Magbabaya. “I have a plan. And it is good for all of us. If you will let me use some of your soil. I will steady the banting and enlarge it. Then there will be enough space to stretch our legs and walk around so that we do not quarrel all the time.”
And so the earth was created. The hawk-like Being could at last rest his wings.
But the soil with which the earth had been made soon became extremely dry. Again Diwata Magbabaya looked longingly at the sticky saliva drooling out of the many-headed Being’s Ten heads. “If you will let me use some of your saliva we can beautify the earth.” the god planner suggested. The Ten-Headed Being was only too flattered to become part of any beautification project. And so he consented. Diwata Magbabaya took some of the saliva and mixed it with the soil. A great rain fell, for endless days water flowed over the earth. When it receded the Beings saw that various shapes had been created. There were mountains, hills, valleys, plains and canyons. Enough water still remained for streams and rivers which flowed into a big hole called the ocean. Lush green grass, trees and flowers sprang from the earth and enveloped it. The earth had indeed become beautiful. The three Beings were delighted.
They called the place HALDAN TA PARAISO which means “Garden of Paradise”.
The supreme planner had a new idea. Since we can’t always be here, wouldn’t it be wise to have Beings like us to watch over the earth?”. The winged Being thought it was a great idea and the Ten-Headed Being grudgingly agreed to it.
The three walked around the beautiful Garden. They gathered some earth to serve as the flesh, and water to serve as blood. They cut some fine rattan to serve as the veins and arteries, and the soft wide wood of the andalugung tree to serve as the bones. The Being moistened the earth with water trying to form the figures, but the soil kept crumbling.
Again Diwata Magbabaya looked towards the Ten-Headed Being and the sticky saliva drooling from his many mouths. “Can we have a little to mould these figures?” he asked. Afraid of being left out of the interesting operation, the Ten Headed Being agreed to mix some of his saliva with the earth.
Now Diwata Magbabaya stood up, put his arms on his hips and told the Ten-Headed Being, “You can make the figures. But you must copy me exactly“. The Ten-Headed Being was not quite convinced but he had no argument at hand and so he resentfully did as he was told.
Soon seven figures, each with only one head and no drooling saliva, were finished by the Ten-Headed Being. The three beings were pleased with the result. Diwata Magbabaya put the figures side by side. “Let them alone for a while,” he told the two others. “I shall go up to the sky to think further how to perfect them.”
While the Supreme Planner was gone, however, the Ten-Headed Being decided to work on the figures on his own. He had a few ideas himself. When Diwata Magbabaya happened to look down from the banting he was horrified to see that six of the seven figures were already beginning to move. He rushed down at once.
“Didn’t I tell you not to touch them while I was thinking how to perfect them?” Diwata Magbabaya scolded the Ten-Headed Being.
“What makes you believe you alone can make them perfect?” answered the Ten-Headed Being. “Why do you think only you know how to create?”
‘Maybe not,” said Diwata Magbabaya. “But so far it’s my ideas and plans that have enabled us to create the earth. And it was after my image that the figures were made.”
“Indeed,” said the Ten-Headed Being. “But all the materials used were mine. You had none. Therefore I have as much right as you to do what I want with them.”
Each Superbeing had his point. Each could defend his own arguments. As usual the hawk-like Being with the wings served as judge and head-cooler. Since neither one would give in it was agreed that there should be an armed duel. The victor should be recognized as ‘the greatest’ and could decide what to do with all the figures.
Out came the swords and the duel began. The two opponents struck swords as if each were the final blow. Their flashing blades produced the lightning. The combatants were able to go around the world fighting. The wind referee declared a recess and they went to paradise to appraise their wounds. But neither combatant suffered a single scratch!
So the duel continued. The battle became even fiercer and more furious. Whenever the Being’s feet landed on the ground a loud thunderclap was produced. They battled each other so fast and furiously that they went around the world seven times.
After the seventh round the three again retired to Haldan Ta Paraiso to examine their bodies. And each one was still unscathed. But this time the swords and metal scabbards on their belts had all melted. They slid down their bodies, sank into the ground and became the metals found under the earth.
Since neither the Good Being nor the Bad being could win nor lose they decided to settle the matter amicably. Diwata Magbabaya said, “Since you have already begun work on the six figures, just finish them. But let me work on one figure left.”
Thus it was that the six figures that were finished by the Ten-Headed Being became incantus or guardian spirits.
The talabugta was assigned to look after the soil for cultivation. The ibabagsuk was in charge of the growing plants.
The bulalakaw became guardian of the water and all its living creatures.
The mamemelig was to watch over the forest. The lalawig had as its special charge the beers and their honey.
The mamahandi was to guard over whatever wealth man acquired, therefore his cows and carabaos, his crops and his farm house.
Like all the creatures made from the efforts of the Superbeing, the incantus contained both good and evil qualities (as does man). They take care of nature and will give of its fruits. But they expect respect and gratitude in the form of prayers and sacrifices of pigs and chickens. The six creatures take quick offense and send drought or flood, or pestilence or sickness to those who do not thank them or seek their permission to build a house, or harvest to the field, or to cut the first slice of meat.
Diwata Magbabaya also finished his figure. As a distinguishing feature he endowed it with intelligence. He had created the first human being. To the first man was entrusted the Haldan Ta Paraiso.
The small bits of clay cut off from the seven diwata as they were being carved were not wasted. They became other living creatures. Those scooped from the ampits became birds, fowls, insects and other flying creatures. The clay sliced from the backs of the figures became the food that had to be carried on one’s back such as deer, wild pigs and the like. The bits cut out from between the fingers became the fished and other water creatures that are caught with the fingers. Those cut from the crotch became the animals that one has to ride astride such as horses, cows and carabaos.
The relations of oppositions are: 1) the good and god of planning Diwata Magbabaya (pure god who wills all things) and the evil god Dadanhayan Ha Sugay (lord from whom permission is asked); 2) the intellectual and physical aspects and sources of creation; 3) the banting and Haldan Ta Paraiso and; 4) tao and incantus.
Two of the three Super beings, Dadanhayan Ha Sugay and Diwata Magbabaya are considered to be in opposition with one another. They always have contradicting ideas, personalities and perspectives. Diwata Magbabaya is the good god who always wills all things in accordance to the best interest of everyone. He bears the ideological and intellectual aspect for the creation of things. He intended to create earth to have a place where Agtayabun can rest, so that he and Dadanhayan Ha Sugay can stretch their legs to avoid frequent conflicts. It is also his idea to create man so they will not worry about who will take care of the earth (Haldan Ta Paraiso) while they stay in the banting. It is from him where the image of the first earthly being, a human, is molded from. Like him, human beings are gifted with intelligence and reasoning skills.
On the other hand, Dadanhayan Ha Sugay has an eerie image, for he has ten heads; his actuations are selfish and inconsiderate, hence, evil god. He only supports and abides Magbabaya’s plans to be not left out of the progressions that are taking place. He also loves that whenever he helps in the process, he receives flattery and compliments. It is from him where materials for creation were taken from. He is also very impatient which manifested when he decided to finish the rest of the beings that are supposedly to be completed by Magbabaya once he got back from banting. The incantus that Dadanhayan Ha Sugay has created are like him – creatures who are asked for permission over the use of natural resources.
Agtayabun is the mediating factor between the above oppositions. It is a bird which has the ability to roam on earth and fly in the sky. Its role as a peacemaker is to mediate between the other two gods and keep the balance and stability of the banting. It also has the right to take things from Dadanhayan Ha Sugay without asking for permission. If not for Agtayabun, the source of elements from Dadanhayan Ha Sugay will not be put to use with Diwata Magbabaya’s ideas, and Haldan Ta Paraiso will not be created.
When differences between the good and evil gods were compromised, conflicts were resolved and resulted to the creation of Haldan Ta Paraiso – a realm opposite and separate from the banting. The gods then continue to create and put organization over Haldan Ta Paraiso. The opposition between the incantus and humans parallels with the differences between the gods who created them. Consequently, both of them have rights and responsibilities to share over the natural resources on earth. Like the gods, for them to achieve harmony and continue to be productive with the use of their provision, both have to respect one another. If not, each has the right and capability to punish the other as well (under the gods’ supervision).
From the above binary oppositions and mediators that were discussed, we can now identify the common and dominating relations among the three sampled creational myths: 1) The homology between the relation of sky and earth as to the relation of gods and human being; 2) Recurring events of state of chaos leading to imposition of order; 3) Creation as a contingent of conflict between two opposing characters or forces; 4) water and earth as foundation elements of the composition of mankind.
In Philippine mythology, when we speak of creation of the world, it would mean what is known by theologians “second creation”. “This presupposes a pre-existing matter or substratum out of which the earth was made… the concept of the earth that has been characterized by Eliade not as chthonian or as earth known to agriculturalists, but as cosmic,” (Francisco R. Demetrio, 1978, p. 28). There is no question of theological sense as in how something was brought to existence from non-existence. So as observed, all myths started with a world present with either the gods symbolizing the sea or the sky, the primordial elements such as water, wind and soil, or animals such as the bird. Also there is an indication of the existence, before anything, of the sacred and holy realm wherein the divine, the absolute and the most powerful are present, either in an explicit or indirect manner. This we may call the sky, or the banting, or the ethereal world of Tungkung Langit and Alunsina. This place is initially in a state of chaos – where everything is mixed up; where opposing forces continue to struggle; where conflicts arise. There builds tension and commotion because one of the forces would inevitably want to impose order.
As a synthesis, creation of the earth occured (a new realm apart from the sky) – along with the rest of nature components and features such as bodies of land and water, animals, kinds of weather and sense of time such as night and day or different seasons. With a sudden awareness of inadequacy and imperfection, or maybe a manifestation of further conflicts, this stimulates the need to generate something new, given with new composition and function, usually relevant to the previous creation. And so, mankind (and other creatures such as incantus), out of water and soil (primordial elements sourced from gods) came to life – whether to populate the earth, to take care of the natural resources, or to achieve and become the best they can be to justify themselves worthy to be considered created from the image of a god.
The latter also suggests that man on earth, inherently has an ultimate goal of perfecting oneself – to be conscious of how and why things are, to settle things that are struggling, to fill in and create for what is lacking, to give things definite form and content, just like how the gods started and created the world. “So that the story which the myth tells is really the story of the precarious birth and gradual emergence and strengthening of human consciousness and personality” (Francisco R. Demetrio, 1978, p. 15). Hence, we live in a world filled with recurring events of struggle and survival (chaos and order), dealing with the ever evolving culturally, socially and economically generated organizations and stratifications. To be noble and to be fulfilling of one’s purpose would be to always to aim for transcendence – to be as god-like as possible. This may on the one hand mean to make sense even of things that in absolute reality are unfathomable anyway – knowledge or truth that is as unreachable as the distance that was created between the earth and the sky, since the inevitable change happened. We all believe and we are aware for one that the more answers we come up to, even more questions arise. We will just not stop and this is how we live life.
We may conclude from the psychology unraveled by deconstructing the deep structures forming Philippine creational mythologies that, the fate of humanity is subjected to the cycle of life and death and of creation and destruction. As explained by Demetrio about the man’s contingent existence:
“…man is a being who well might not have been, or in another phrase, a being who is not needed at all in the cosmos. That is why he is called a creature. If he exists at all, that is not altogether because of him; rather, because of some other.” (Understanding Philippine Myths, 1978, p. 14)
However maybe not only us are to perish, but also everything inside the cosmos, for even time is not eternal. The only absolute truth is that ‘we will never know’. And so what is left to us is the ability to hope and the choice to stick towards positivity. We can then hope that there will be a point in time wherein we will no more worry about our status and identity or about whose life value more than the other.
“That hope, I think, the study of our Philippine myths and rituals can give us today. For there are many prophets of doom in our midst. And they destroy human nature; they dehumanize. For it is human to hope; inhuman to despair.” (Francisco R. Demetrio, 1978, p. 15)
We have gone through long and painstaking analyses of narratives of mythology, only to come up with a gamut of rhetoric and polemics. I suggest we nevertheless consider these sources of truth of experience; they are fictitious and mythic, yet so real, it produces tangible effects and reveals visible, relatable and relevant circumstances. When everything else fails, do we not get by life through faith? Not always, but so as adhering to what we call logical and scientific reasoning – like when we once believed the ‘fact’ that the earth is the center of the solar system. “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is perspective, not the truth.” – Marcus Aurelius.
Not that I do not support the above discussions and conclusions on my paper, I just have to mention a few about the methodology per se. Structuralism is reductive and selective. The methodology supported by dialects sounds very logical and achievable. However throughout the process, on the interpretation, we realize that even on the selection of relations and other elements of the structure, it becomes vulnerable to being influenced by the perspective of the one analyzing. As we proceed simplifying and looking for universals among the relations, it either adds or loses meaning. Unlike what seemed to be promised by structuralism, it does not go like mathematics wherein long equations can be simplified and with proper operations used, would arrive to the same and exact value of the original. It is because for one, in mythology, we deal with qualities and ideologies, which can be perceived in a spectrum of nuances. Validation of intellectual analysis with physical manifestation would help strengthen statements.
On the other hand, the methodology’s being reductive and selective do not make it any less relevant, less worthy of a scholarly achievement nor less likely to be passed on to the next generations. As I relate to my paper conclusion, one tend to continue to find answers, solve problems, organize and simplify complexities to make things understandable in a way one is able to creatively put it. I am neither fully knowledgeable nor well-versed with the rest of the significant ways to interpret myths, but I would assume that these approaches all have loopholes one could scrutinize. To remark areas for improvement would not hurt, but noble initiatives such as structuralism, deserve reverence and sheer recognition.
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