What Are Philippine Narrative?


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Sam Easterbrook answered
The Philippine Narrative is a reference to the folk lore of the Philippines, a country in South-East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean.

Such folk lore, or myths and legends can be split into different categories:

Examples of Philippine folk narrative in prose include:
  • The kuwentong bayan (folktale)
  • The alamat (myth)
  • The legend
While examples of Philippine folk speech include:
  • The salawikain (proverbs)
  • The bugtong (riddle)
Traditional songs can also be included in a study of the Philippine narrative as the origins of this history is oral, these stories and tales existed long before they were committed to paper.

As the Philippines are a collection of many islands, there isn’t one agreed narrative history, but many variations on a theme. However, almost all stories will have an Indian influence and will include references to:
  • Heaven (kaluwalhatian, kalangitan, kamurawayan)
  • Hell (impiyerno, kasamaan)
  • The human soul (kaluluwa)
It is important to remember that these stories pre-date the introduction of Christianity to the archipelago. Some of these stories are synonymous with religious practice and there are some of the Gods and deities that frequently occur, these include:
  • Bathala - the Supreme Being and Creator
  • Apolaki (Apolaqui) – another supreme deity
  • Mayari (Mallari) – another chief deity
  • Kabunian
  • Amansinaya (Aman Sinaya)
  • Pati - Rain God
  • Lakambakod (Lachan Bacor)
  • Idiyanale (Idianale) – the god of animal husbandry and aquaculture
Examples of non-deities in Philippine Narratives include:
  • Aswang - a ghoul or vampire
  • Agta - a black tree spirit
  • Kapre - a tree-residing giant
  • Tikbalang - demon-horses
  • Wakwak - a night bird which either belongs to a witch or vampire or the witch or vampire itself in the form of a bird
You may also be interested in the narrative traditions of fellow South-East Asian countries Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.

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