Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pinatubo and Arayat (3 of 3)

Rituals and Practices

The peoples in the regions around Arayat and Pinatubo considered these mountains sacred and they had various ritual and practices concerning the mountains that are known to an extent.

  • Animism -- certain trees, stones, caves, streams, etc., were thought to harbor special spirits called Anito. Aduarte in 1640, for example, mentions a sacred speaking stone among the Sambals. Certain black rocks were considered to be remnants of Sinukuan's great bridge before it was demolished.
    Every valley, river, rock, outcrop, or tree in Pinatubo had a significance in Aeta lore. (Elder and Wong 1996:280)
  • Careri states that fruit and other products of Arayat should only be eaten while on the mountain. It was taboo to carry them to the lowlands. According to Serrano, one should first ask permission before taking any fruit of the mountain:
    Apo dinan mo ku pu, ke pung mangan darening tanaman mo "Lord, please grant this to me which I would like to eat from your fruit trees."
  • One should not commit acts of greed on the mountain like excessive logging (Dominador G. David, Pampangan Folklore Stories, 1917) or gold mining (Manuel Carreon, Pampangan Legends, 1917). One should not even have greed in one's heart in case you should come upon Sinukuan or his daughters, who often test people in this regard.
  • The bathing pool of Sinukuan on Arayat was considered a place of healing where the sick could come and bathe to free themselves of illness.
  • Both Pinatubo and Arayat, or their deities are believed to control the weather, especially when angry. Prayers are made to these mountains/deities for help during inclement weather. Hiromu Shimizu relates an incident in which Pan Bangay, a Pinatubo Ayta, made an offering to appease Apo Pinatubo. The pair had come close to the mountain and it suddenly became dark and started raining. Pan Bangay lit a straw from Shimizu's hat and uttered the following appeal:
    Pakida-ep mo Apo Pinatubo, agmo kay kik oranan
    Apo Pinatubo, kapapa-ingalo ya kik nabaha
    ang! (Grandfather Pinatubo, please smell the
    smoke. Don't expose us to the rain, have pity
    for we will get wet!)
    When Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991, the Ayta held a manganito seance in which they said that they were informed that Apo Namalyari was angry due to modern commercial encroachment on Pinatubo. They conducted the talbeng ritual to appease Pinatubo and to ask Apo Namalyari to bring back the forest.
  • Be kind to animals, insects, plants, etc., on Arayat and do not even point at them unnecessarily for fear of angering Sinukuan. (Eugenio 1993:180)

Batung Maputi, the White Rock of Arayat. Legendary location of Sinukuan's palace.

Source: Ronnie Muring,

Recurring themes

One way of reconstructing the original motifs and themes of the local legends is to ascertain which ones are found independently from at least a few sources. In practice though, it is often easy to discern when outside myths and legends are mixed into those of local origin.

Here are some of the recurring themes and motifs involving Pinatubo and Arayat:

  • Power of mountains/deities to control weather, earthquakes
  • Deities of mountains involved in creation of land formations
  • Excessive logging, mining angers mountain deities
  • Deities live inside their respective mountains. Sinukuan has a underground palace of gold or bronze.
  • Sinukuan's daughters, usually three in number, like to interact with humans trading gold for pig's feed (darac "rice husks")
  • Sinukuan was very rich with gold and generous giving away gold and magical items.
  • Malyari is associated with Moon and Sinukuan with Sun. Many of their children are also associated with the heavenly bodies or locations in the sky where the Sun sets, crosses the zenith, etc.
  • Sinukuan and Malyari are associated with a bridge to each other's mountain or to some other mountain or area.
  • Marital and courtship relations existed between the gods of Pinatubo and Arayat. However, they also engage in land-altering battles.
  • Both mountains have many taboos and restrictions against desecration. The sacred mountains are meant to remain in a natural and unspoiled state as much as possible.
  • Anything that originates on the mountains is sacred.
  • The White Rock (Batung Maputi) is the location of the entrace to Sinukuan's palace.
  • A future eruption from Pinatubo was expected.
    There is the myth recorded by Beyer, and also a warning before the last eruption that Ayta elders gave their children that Apo Pinatubo Namalyari would awake and throw stones if they did not behave. (Rodolfo 1995:88)

Rainforest in southern Zambales


Paul Kekai Manansala


Elder, John, and Hertha Dawn Wong. Family of Earth and Sky: Indigenous Tales of Nature from Around the World. The Concord library. Boston: Beacon Press, 1994.

Rodolfo, K. Pinatubo and politics of lahar. Eruption and Aftermath, 1991, University of the Philippines Press, 1995.

Shimizu, Hiromu. Pinatubo Aytas: Continuity and Change. Quezon City, Metro Manila: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1989, 50.