Saturday, December 11, 2004

The Dueling Dual Volcanoes

The following translation of a Kapampangan legend by Michael Panglinan will help us unravel the socio-political situation of the Nusantao that developed. I have added a few translations of notes.

"The history of the Kapampangan opened with the great war in heaven. They were siblings (I don't know if they are brothers or brothers and sisters...but they were siblings) Aldau (the Sun) and Bulan (the Moon) were fighting for control of the earth.

From the heavens they descended on the banks of the great river, from which they pulled out two bamboo poles each. In the ensuing battle, Aldau, the sun had struck the light out of one of Bulan's eyes and its brightness dimmed. Aldau was victorious and Bulan surrendered. Magnanimous, Aldau lifted his capatad up and divided his rule between himself and Bulan. He even let Bulan sit on the throne first. Thus Bulan ruled by bengi (night) and Aldau ruled by aldau (day).

They settled on the two sacred mountains of the great river bank plains. On earth, Aldau chose as his abode Alaya, the center, the navel of the world. Thus the words 'paralaya' meaning going towards Alaya, the home, the base, the navel, and 'padauba' which means to go away from the center, or to go down to the flatlands. Paralaya also came to mean east since it is the abode of the sun.

On earth, Aldau came to be called by man as Apung Sukû meaning antiquity or even summit or zenith. Bulan, on the one hand settled on the source of eight rivers, Pinatubu, from which man derived its food and livelihood as the rivers became not only a source of fish, but was also the watering hole of game and fowl.

Man favoured Bulan with the name Apung Mallari, to whom all things were possible. He was said to be more approachable than the distant Apung Sukû.

Apung Sukû, the Sun, had for his children: Munag Sumalâ (Dawn) who was betrothed to Manalastas (the rooster), Abac, Ugtu (known also as Lakandanup who devoured shadows at noon), and Gatpanapun (the prince who knows only pleasure).

Apung Mallari had two daughters. The most beautiful was Sisilim (sunset) who was devoted to her uncle Apung Sukû by welcoming him in the western skies with songs of the cicadas at sunset. The other daughter was Kapitangan.

All things went well with their reign over man on earth till the rains came. The rains did not stop. The eight Rivers of Pinatubu overflowed. Man's possesssion were washed away and the fowls, game and fish went to seek calmer waters or went deep into the mountains. Man hungered. Man despaired. Finally man called upon Apung Sukû for help.

Apung Sukû then sent his grandson Tala (the planet Venus), son of the red serpent Munag Sumalâ and the bird Manalastas, to be born as a man.

Deep in the forest of Mount Alaya, an old manalaksan (wood cutter) went to the pool of Sapang Tacûi to quench his thirst. There in the middle of the pool, a tucal flower blossomed. in the midst of it was a healthy baby crying. The old manalaksan took pity and took the child to his old wife mangkukuran (potter). There the child began to speak and walk. The couple bowed low to the ground and paid homage to the god child.

Soon the child grew up to become a strong bayani. Riding on his friend Damulag, the guardian against the storm, Tala descended the mountain chewing on a sugarcane. On the slopes of the mountain he fell in love with a woman called Mingan. Together they made love. As they did so, Tala took some of his seeds and placed them in Mingan's hand. "Plant them on the flooded ground," he said. Mingan was doubtful at first since nothing grew on the flooded soil save for lumut or algae.

Immediately after Mingan planted the sacred seeds, a curious green looking plant sprouted from the ground. These were the first palai, rice plants. Tala showed her how to cook nasi, from the unhusked seeds of the palai plant. Soon Mingan's tribe was able to conquer all the flooded plains and convert them to fertile rice fields. Tala went back to the sky.

Soon, man forgot about the goodness of Apung Mallari before the floods. They endlessly praised Apung Sukû for sending them his grandson Tala. In anger and jealousy, Apung Mallari threw a huge boulder to the perfect summit of Apung Sukû's abode, Bunduc Alaya. The earth trembled. But worse was Apung Sukû's anger at the insult. From that day on, Apung Mallari was cursed. He was to be called as Punsalang (the source of enmity, the enemy).

Apung Sukû took all the huge boulders of the great river bank plains and threw them all at Bunduk Pinatubu. Apung Mallari, now Punsalang, saw his abode crumble. Seeing her father lose miserably, Sisilim decided to stop her uncle the sun but she too was struck and she fell dead. Seeing this, Punsalang shouted in anguish and surrendered to his brother Apung Sukû. From then on, Apung Sukû was Apung Sinukuan (to whom everyone surrendered)."

Paul Kekai Manansala