Ene 14, 2013

CANNIBAL GIANTS: First annotation of Eugenio's recounting of Adeva's recounting of Rajah Indarapatra's slaying of Omaca-an not only to avenge his brother but so that Lanao might live to tell the tale

"About a thousand years ago, more or less, Rajah Indarapatra and his brother Rajah Solaiman came to Lanao. They found not a single human being because Omaca-an, a horrible and ferocious giant, ate many human beings that he ever found anywhere in this province."

Thus begins Damiana L. Eugenio's retelling of "Rajah Indarapatra Slays Omaca-an, A Big Giant" [1] as sourced from Victoria J. Adeva's thesis on Maranao Folk Literature [2].

I now intend to and annotate these retellings in order to populate a space for Philippine Folk Literature in my own creative and teaching acts. Damiana Eugenio shall be my main source, Tilde my main co-conspirator, and hopefully I can take at least three of my handful readers along for the ride (and, a further hope: that at least one of them would weave their own art or discourse from this material).

In Eugenio, the Omaca-an account takes only two pages and a half, tells the story straight, then indexes it with the motifs she learned from her particular school of folkloric studies (in this story for example, you see among her endnotes such markings as "G11.2. Cannibal giant; P251.3.1. Brothers avenge each other; P251.5. Two brothers").

As for this turn, I shall attempt to read "Rajah Indarapatra Slays Omaca-an, A Big Giant" as closely I would a contemporary short story. This process will inevitably marginalize concern for authentic folk representation in favor of creative speculation. I do not wish to undermine the good work of folklorists or disrespect folk literature, whether living or dead.

Still, this type of thing is known for its violence, and it's been bloody even before I got here. One example: How are we sure that all the folk sourced by Eugenio's sources (such as Adeva, and her sources) would have surrendered their myths and epics to a codification system if they knew that it would reduce their cherished tale—sung in the flavor of their own language, in the context of their communal tragedies, perhaps the occasional wedding celebration—into but one of many stories made English, itself only two and a half pages in a book of 490, third in a series of many neglected volumes stacked in the moldy shelf of a stranger, an unworthy reader, just one among other books, some of its companions rather unsavory, all of them vulnerable to the regular vandalism of the awful reader's young?

This ill-written question shall not absolve me, why, it's hardly a defense. It's just me, again, trying to convince myself  that I am no evil-doer despite the fact that I now represent a potentially evil, imperial Manila type of thought: "everybody owns every story." A tale belongs to hearer and teller both, or else it does not live. Yet that path from hearer to teller, that's live, shifting ground. I have mourned this fact of communication in the past, but in the case of these annotations, I have chosen to celebrate it.

I will try my best not to lie. I will guard my statements with as many maybes as I believe necessary. Still, the past of these stories is less important to me (mea culpa, mea culpa) than their future.

I will take these meticulous and delightful (but possibly inaccurate) accounts from Eugenio and her sources (and their sources) as I would a story I heard on the bus or over the radio. Then I shall do with these what I do to my own stories, and the narratives of my students, the yarns of the national artists the world over: I pay attention.

And, I attend with glad company. Below you will find Tilde's first work on the matter (sourced from the Carcosite where you will find his notes toward the illustration):

"Rajah Solaiman said, 'Yes, that is why I am going around this province of yours, to kill you, as Lanao province cannot be inhabited by people unless you are killed.'"

I will try my best not to lie, I said. Here then is my first attempt to not lie: Rajah Solaiman and Rajah Indarapatra wish to rid the land of monsters in order to make it Lanao, a peopled country, therefore a country with a voice, a folk that would sing the songs of the Rajahs.

The birth of a country involves two things: the destruction of giants and the peopling of the land. That is, however, merely the baby's breath. For the land to live, it must sing of broken giants.

[1] Damiana L. Eugenio. "Rajah Indarapatra Slays Omaca-an, A Big Giant (Maranao)". In Philippine Folk Literature: The Legends. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 2002: 45-47.
[2] Lanao Progress, v. 6, no. 12 (1938), p.8. In Victoria J. Adeva's, "Maranao Folk Literature" (MA Thesis, UP, 1978).
[3] Tilde's illustration and notes | teasing | othering | re-viewing | leeching
[4] tekstong bopis | Prelude | First | Second | Third | Fourth Annotation | Fifth Annotation

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