Ene 30, 2013

THE FALL OF RAJAH SOLAIMAN: Fourth Annotation of "Rajah Indarapatra Slays Omaca-an, A Big Giant"

Let us now attend the battle that ended Rajah Solaiman. After an exchange of challenges, "Rajah Solaiman said [to Omaca-an], '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.' Immediately after this, Omaca-an, with a fierce look, tried to grab Rajah Solaiman, but instantly he drew his sword and struck him. The giant being wounded in the thigh and nearly cut into two pieces said, "That is not the way a datu will cut off a man without cutting up the whole body into separate pieces." The giant after saying this again tried to seize Rajah Solaiman who immediately struck him and cut the gaint into separate pieces. But look! The giant became two giants instead of being killed." In [1] and [2].

Tilde began a line of thinking for us to pursue. According to his reading  "our folk stories (as in the repulsion felt towards the omaca-an and the bakunawa) never described in detail how horrible horrible monsters look. so, we would rather slay them and opt not to understand them, communicate, negotiate with them, because trying to do so will probably result to consequences such as being the omaca-an's dinner or losing the last moon forever into the dark of the bakunawa's gastrointestinal labyrinths." Where does such a "communication" with the monster lead? To a communion perhaps? As had been discussed in the third annotation, Rajah Solaiman and Omaca-an exchanged words before blows. I think that this dialogue allowed the giant to gain the upper hand even before the Rajah drew his sword.

Omaca-an had been taunting his adversary, reminding him of his station, how he was "pitiful", yes, but also that he was "Rajah Solaiman, son of Sultan of Bacaramandil of Komamaramantapoli". Was Omaca-an flattering the Rajah, strumming his pride, surfacing this weakness so he could easily manipulate it? For pride was indeed the Rajah's weakness. Through it, Omaca-an had been able to condition  how the highborn would fight him. The giant sealed the deal when he said, "That is not the way a datu will cut off a man without cutting up the whole body into separate pieces," because these words led his enemy to activate a secret power: Omaca-an's ability to replicate upon being severed.

So it came to pass.  Rajah Solaiman cut and cut Omaca-an until he could not cut anymore, until he had to fall to eight giants. "After a severe struggle, the giants overcame him and cut off his head."

Let us highlight three details related to the Rajahs' idea of clearing the land. First, Omaca-an's replication. This seems to me a certain kind of peopling, a multiplication of a mighty self so that a land could contain nothing but this presence, project nothing but this will. This multiplication may refer to some heterogenizing political system (think like I think, repeat what I say, do as I do), or it may have been a mockery of the brothers' project. Omaca-an was a people unto himself, the means of his eradication was itself the method of renewal. Violence begets violence.

Notice also how the Rajah brandished a sword while the giant used only his bare hands. This seemed to me part of Omaca-an's rhetoric, how he's setting himself against Omaca-an, declaring himself as no datu, no ruler of people, beyond the rules of engagement, perhaps someone less noble. Yet, despite such a station, it was he who reminded the Rajah how a datu ought to fight, perhaps poking a finger on a physical lack, or to paraphrase the giant on way:  "Are you sure you're a datu when you can't even cut an enemy properly!"

Thus provoked, the Rajah became Omaca-an's own sword, his first "clone". By means of measured taunts, his fighting stance, insults coupled with recognition, Omaca-an was able to wield the Rajah himself so that he could cut "himself" in the proper, most advantageous manner.

This brings me to one last observation. Omaca-an cannot split himself at will. In fact, there was no mention that his replicates could cut each other in order to speed up his multiplication. Also, as Omaca-an's fight with Rajah Indarapatra would later reveal, the process does not permanently multiply the giant. Rajah Indarapatra would have to fight only one Omaca-an, not eight, just one giant who was unable to replicate himself despite his desperation. It seems that this giant cannot multiply asexually, he needs another, someone he could seduce into his design. Maybe Rajah Solaiman was susceptible to Omaca-an's words because he took the path without women (a point made in the previous annotation), without intercourse with the natives, the land. Maybe Omaca-an was truly representative of the nature of war, that it never truly begins with weapons, that all it ever needed was one man, and then one other—of his own heart—against whom he could throw himself.

In the end, Rajah Solaiman indeed became of the land, through the battle that shaped it, the agony that offered it both a name and a ghost. These last things shall be the purpose of the fifth annotation.

[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 | Fifth Annotation

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