Ene 24, 2013

TWO APPROACHES: Third Annotation of "Rajah Indarapatra Slays Omaca-an, A Big Giant"

"Raja Indarapatra told his brother Raja Solaiman to pass at the Western side of the like and he himself would pass at the eastern side, and they would meet at Timbalangan cape. Rajah Solaiman arrived first at this cape but did not meet  his brother as he was delayed on account of his marrying the Queen of the Nymphs in Mimbalas who is called Ba-i Karimbang by the Moros." In [1] and [2].

The brothers divided the land into two paths, both strewn with struggle and murder, but only one marked by a marriage and women. Tilde has already touched upon a basic distinction between the Rajahs, and I would like to quote an essential excerpt from his reading:
omaca-an's might and magic was first faced by solaiman because indarapatra was busy with another other: the opposite sex. within the text, indarapatra is shown as a charmer of at least three women: 1.) the nymph he married while his brother solaiman waits for him at the rendezvous point; 2.) the baliti tree dwelling female demon who told him what happened and where omaca-an is; and, 3.) since we usually call our homeland 'motherland,' the province itself.
thus, there are types of the other that we find tolerable. remember that though lanao was then uninhabited by humans during the reign of the omaca-an, there were nymphs and indarapatra married their queen during those the fight of solaiman and omaca-an. the dweller of the baliti tree helped indarapatra, maybe because there is some sort of alliance between these feminine, not-human, perhaps divine inhabitants of lanao. and indarapatra's marriage could have been insightful of this alliance-building with these various types of other, and maybe through these connections, indarapatra knew what he would do and not do to defeat the omaca-an.
Negating the "before" does not suffice in establishing the after. Maybe Rajah Indaraptra had to see in himself and in his relations the land he had been envisioning with his brother. It's possible, even if only partially, that this was what the marriage meant. He had to perceive more than the fight. He had to understand—and therefore create—what he was fighting for.

Note however that, unlike the Rajahs, the Queen is of the land, her Mimbalas territory among those threatened by the monsters and the wild. Yet, she also represents some of the wild, being a nymph, perhaps the more peaceable, companionable, and provident aspect of the wild, as opposed to another aspect, the monster Omaca-an who was beyond domestication.

Here, I'm testing out a possible answer for something that's been bugging me: why would Indarapatra win where Solaiman fell? The two paths can offer some answers: Rajah Indarapatra went native, gathered intel, established roots. In a very real sense, Rajah Indarapatra made himself more vulnerable by assimilating the land, assuming the folk, throwing his lot (perhaps) completely with the people.

On the other hand, it was entirely about the battle for Rajah Solaiman. I see him lost in the bloodlust, noble still, maybe, but there was nothing for him other than the fight. Done with his share of beasts, having cleared half of the land, the Rajah waited for his brother at the Timbalangan rendezvous. In [1] and [2]:

"While he was patiently waiting, Omaca-an, a horrible monster, came upon him. The big giant neighed at Rajah Solaiman and said, 'O pitiful Rajah Solaiman, son of Sultan of Bacaramandil of Komamaramantapoli, why did you come to my dwelling place? You will never get back home.' 

"'You must return to your place,' said Rajah Solaiman, 'as you are a pitiful giant.'

Omaca-an the big giant replied and said, 'As you will not get back to your place, let us fight.'" 

Face to face now, and almost toe to toe We hear the taunts, mutual belittling of the other, the intimidation. But it's an exchange I find curious for at least two reasons: (a) by recognizing Rajah Solaiman's station, Omaca-an reveals his own, and (b) by means of dialogue, we find the combatants setting the stakes, already engaging in tug-of-war over the land.

When Omaca-an recognizes Rajah Solaiman as "son of Sultan of Bacaramandil of Komamaramantapoli" he sets himself apart from the beasts of the land. He has both intelligence and the accountability that goes with it. A man slain by animals differs from the same man, slaughtered too, but in the hands of someone who knows where he comes from, who he is, perhaps also, his purpose. Perhaps Eugenio was right when she identified Omaca-an as a "cannibal," as someone cut from the same cloth as basic humans. It's possible that Omaca-an was also a hero of an older legend (as what sometimes happens in myths and legends, for example, Baal was himself the Canaanite's idea of god long before Yahweh's people came and demonized him). If so, then it politically makes sense that the dominating culture who was carrying the song of the Rajahs would sacrifice one Rajah to him in order to appease the dominee, marry off the stronger Rajah to one of the heroines or prominent figures of that same older story (who the Moros name Ba-i Karimbang) and see that Rajah (now already also of that older folk) destroy the old order.

This brings us to the confusion of the dialogue. Who should be going home to where? Omaca-an tells the invader that Timbalangan is his place. Rajah Solaiman tells him to go back to his place.

One possible explanation: Rajah Solaiman is saying he is home, it is already his place, and therefore nobody else's. If Omaca-an has a home, it must be somewhere else. A complicated, yet possibly gratifying method of saying go away: "This was never your home in the first place."

Perhaps even without force of arms, the giant has already won, and not only because Rajah Solaiman was merely echoing his words "pitiful" and "place". Omaca-an knows that the Rajah hails from another place (Komamaramantapoli) while Rajah Solaiman could only say "you don't belong here, go home" without saying where that home was. Saying it's just not "here," because "here" is "mine" just won't cut it.

Another possible explanation for this dialogue is that "place" here means social station, therefore: claim. So to paraphrase Omaca-an: "You are prince of another land, Solaiman, son of a stranger to this land, but you have entered my territory without permission, beyond protocol, therefore with ill intent. You have lost any claim for safe passage home. Your royalty shall find no purchase here." Which might be a stretch, yes, I know but wait till you hear the Solaiman paraphrase: "You hold no sway here as I have come with my banner. You must return to servility as you are a pitiful giant."

"As you shall never again taste the comforts of your kingdom, your privilege, your power, Rajah Solaiman, let us fight."

I hope I've brought us closer to a certain point I've been trying to make: "place" is always a spatial and a political position. And this idea makes sense if we pay attention to Omaca-an when he said "As you will not get back to your place, let us fight."

The logical sequence here marks the difference. What Omaca-an said was not "We will fight, and therefore you will not be able to return to your place" (which would have meant merely that he means to slay the Rajah) but in fact "We will fight because you will not return to your place". The latter proves much more difficult to read. Could it mean "because you're too stubborn to leave" or "because you would rather place your life at my mercy" or "because you refuse to know your place".

"Because you belong to me now" or "because you belong to this land now, Rajah Solaiman". And indeed, Omaca-an will unite his enemy with the place, both frustrating the Rajah's hope and fulfilling his destiny.  This shall figure in the fourth 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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