Friday, January 19, 2018

Throwback on Bulong (boo'-long) Marinduque folklore



A compilation of Marinduque's folklores was published in 1914, annotated by Henry Otley Beyer, an American anthropologist and professor at U.P. He spent most of his adult life teaching Philippine indigenous culture and became known as the Father of Philippine Anthropology.


Beyer's compilation of Marinduque folklores included stories on folk beliefs and cultural practices that prevailed on the island. It was our inspiration for the staging of "Bulong". Pronounced boo'-long (not bu-long' the Tagalog word for 'whisper'). Bulong is defined as the collective name of spirits that transport humans bodily into another place or dimension. Often on this island, old folks have endless stories to tell about them based on personal experiences.

In 2002, this blogger upon request of the mayor of Gasan for assistance in conceptualizing their first "Araw ng Gasan" celebration thought of staging a dance-drama titled 'Bulong' among other events. Belief in the spirit world and ancestral worship was of course, the order of the day when Gasan was 'discovered' by the Spaniards centuries before introduction of Christianity. 



"Bulong", written and directed by this blogger was thus a re-shaping of those traditional stories, presenting bits and pieces of historical data to help today's generation get inspired and to perhaps serve as a vehicle for reflection by those who dwell on this stuff. It has since been presented in all of Marinduque's six municipalities as part of an NCCA-PGM project.

'BULONG' SYNOPSIS:

Teen-aged Salve, catching 'bilabila' (butterflies) finds herself in a half-awake, half dream state and sees strange creatures, the elemental spirits, around her and is at once taken to another world. That's the world of spirits and strange creatures we've all heard about on this island. There she's also brought to a door that leads to the island's prehistory.


Salve encounters 'patianacs' (a kind of scary crow), asuangs, tikbalangs, swaying bamboo trees, duwendes, enkantos.. The elemental Bulong spirits take her to the enkanto until a tug-of-war between the menacing asuangs and friendly spirits ensue, thus saving Salve. The enkantada (known as 'white lady' too), enters and since Salve is a mortal decides to take the girl to the world of those who were once mortals, the world of Salve's ancestors. Here the Katalona of "Mara Unduk" fame is seen still wielding power. Salve becomes witness to the romance and tragedy of the Alon-Baylana-Kidlat (Katutubos), love triangle and its tragic end. She also gets to see the island's Pastores anito for the first time.

Salve sees how intruders from other shores supplanted a new set of beliefs to those of her ancestors by the power of the sword and the cross. As the ancient people cry in protest Salve begins to understand why she was taken there. The elemental spirits free her at last, their mission accomplished.



But the enkanto, so smitten with Salve, gets in the way. He connives with the asuangs and ugly characters for her capture. With no one to save her except herself Salve uses the folk formula to set herself free at last from her new abductors.


Susong Dalaga Hill

Susong Dalaga Hill
Susong Dalaga Hill from Bagtasan isthmus

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