Cebu City – Folklore characters such as sigbin, agta, wakwak, udto-udto, unglo, diwata, yawa, and Maria Cacao took center stage in a cultural webinar in Cebu, bastion of Catholicism in the East in celebration of the traditional Kalag-kalag (All Souls’ Day).
Scholars here traced the ancient myths and folklore in the Visayas in an attempt to unravel the drastic and gradual meltdown of indigenous cultures and the assimilation of Catholicism into local lives.
Dr. Zona Saniel-Amper, professor of the Department of Anthropology, Sociology, and History (DASH) of the University of San Carlos (USC) elaborated on the anthropological perspective of Visayan folklore and rituals for the supernatural.
Amper said that because folklore are delivered orally, geographically and generationally, there would be variations and a common thread to myths and legends.
“These myths functioned as a form of control for children and to explain our origin as a people,” she said.
University of the Philippines-Los Baños history professor Ruben Jeffrey Asuncion delved in the Visayan mythology and oral tradition.
Asuncion said that yawa, based on oral tradition, was an indigenous goddess who had been demonized by the Spaniards, thus the call out ‘yawa ka’ (you, devil) was meant to describe someone doing a transgression of a religious norm. This expression had been handed down through generations.
The once mythical indigenous goddess had been transformed into the devil with the advent of Catholicism.
A group of young people also portrayed characters in Visayan mythology and folktales in the “Visayan Mythical Creatures Cosplay Contest”, one of the highlights of the hybrid event, “Di ingon nato*! Visayan folklore and mythical creatures in oral tradition”.
The webinar, facilitated by Agripina Guivelondo of Palm Grass Hotel, recalled how the prehispanic Visayans revered their heroic dead ancestors as anitos was held on October 30, 2021 at Palm Grass Hotel.
The cultural heritage event was broadcast live at the pages of Palm Grass The Cebu Heritage Hotel and partner organizations: the National Historical Commission of the Philippines; National Quincentennial Committee; USC Department of Anthropology, Sociology and History; Culture, Arts and Design Association of the Philippines Inc.; Social Science Society of the Cebu Normal University; Museo Sugbo; Central Visayas Association of Museums; SOAN 2020 Inc; Diyandi Heritage Center; and Queen City Cebu.#
(A press release and featured photo from Palm Grass The Heritage Hotel of Cebu)