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Synopsis About Iloilo's Culture, History, Literature and Tradition


This work is passionately strive to attain and attempt to present in a literary or written form and also through pictures the beautiful province of Iloilo, the Folklore and its effectiveness to the lives of the Ilonggos.

It was traced through the legends and myths the origins of the names of different towns, places in Iloilo same with plants and other objects. Probably the places or objects is baptized with a name according to the following basic fundamentals: geographic or location features, claims of general features, from a plant, bird, animals or any objects abundant in the area; a hero, saint or individual, turmoil or confusion created by the differences in dialects, an event or incident that is probably caused by a failed love or a punishment to a crime or offense committed and combination of different kinds of such.

It is contained in the folk tales the stories or accounts about heroes, mythical creatures and mysteries. Included are the events which is related to the mythical creatures just like the aswangs, kapre, dwarves, mantiw (Hiligaynon term for bugbear, hobgoblin or jinn), at tamawo or engkantada (fairies, deities or enchantress in English). Likewise the pagdalirot to the mysteries just like the spirits, people and places.

It is an interesting experience for the respective authors to listen to the songs sung by the friendly Ilonggos to the sanctuary of God, to the plazas, fiesta, in crossing the seas riding the outrigger boats, in the wakes, in the center of the golden grains of rice - songs that gave rise to the natives as an outstanding race.

The different dances became part of the folklore of Iloilo like Alegrito, Balitaw, Binadyong, Bucasoy, Katalana, Kuradang, Haplik at Palmerito.

The undying poems of the popular poets like Flavio Zaragoza Cano, Delfin Gumban, Magdalena Jalandoni, Agustin Misola, Santiago Alv. Mulato, Nilo P. Pamonag and a lot more others is presenting the dreamy minds and soul of the Ilonggos.

The epic Labaw Donggon of Lambunao signifies Ilonggo culture.

The beliefs, superstitions, the practices, customs and Ilonggo traditions also consists the folklore of the Ilonggos.

In the research done has completely realized that there is a connection between the folk knowledge to the different forms of life of the Ilonggos. The folklore is already a part of their everyday lives.

The folklore provide shapes to the imprint of the past, the history of the place, of the people because the truth is, these are the records or notes of yesterday's past. The legends and origins possesses historical essence or it reminisce us the things that has connections in the lives of our ancestors. We were brought by the legends presented during the time and kingdom of the Aeta aborigines, datu and Malays, prince and princess, king and queen, the invasion of the Moors or the bandits and the resistance and defense of the natives, Spanish colonial period, the arrival of the Americans, and the settlement of the Chinese immigrants in the area. In the included legends contains different time periods - from the arrival of the ten (10) Bornean datus to the island until the century of the Americans.

The folk tales like the legends are also a glimpse of the notes of the past and history of the place. They confirmed the period that took place. The folk songs also has imprints of the past. Madadalumat It manifests in the religious songs the deep roots of the Christian faith in the land. These hymns were for so long been played still continues to linger in the lips of the Ilonggo in masses, novena, procession, Flores de Mayo until the present time. Songs that were bounded in love at courtship and many other things sets an endless yesterday, themes of relationships born at the same time with the world and prevailing until the world is world.

There is a touch of Hispanic civilization in some of the dances. The costumes Barong Tagalog, patadyong, kimona, panuelo are tracing at a period where these dresses are a trend.

The proverbs states a touch of time like churches, procession, heaven, school, teachers, Ati, metals like gold, bronze and lead.

The riddles has anag-ag of yesterday's past in by describing or considering skirts, gowns, Santa Maria, paper, letter, gun, bolo, ax, Spanish Castilian house, native hut, carpenter's house, silver and gold.

The folklore has a spiritual effect. It describe objects that is connected with nature, holiness and religion. The places were named or called with the names taken from the saints or their apparition to the people or taken from the Marian titles like Santo Rosario, Santa Barbara, San Dionisio, San Enrique and San Joaquin. The saints are being invoked most especially in the middle of a deep or intense crisis or dire situation.

It is prevailing in the folktales of the Ilonggos the faith in God and giving high esteemed values to prayers which are the carriers of blessings and salvation. The faith of the Ilonggos are so deep that they will be delivered by the saints they venerate or revered. The miracles of these patron saints never changes in what they hear like the stories told in the folktales: "Help of Saint Anthony of Padua" and "The Miracles of Our Lady of Oton."  It is seen in "Huan Pusong" that in the prayers of a devoted couple they were granted a child. In "The Mermaid", a family was saved from a dire desperate needs through fervent knocking on the doors of heaven. In confession one can achieve a tranquility of the heart and soul according to the story of "Si Siam-Siam".

The folk songs are just a product of feelings and emotions and a mind that disturbs or annoys the heart and soul.

The poem is an effective medium of expression of recognizing the blessed hands of God and embracing protection of the saints like the "Offerings to Saint Roch".

As well as the proverbs that reminds of having a mighty Creator who created the universe and its caretaker. In the midst of hopelessness, these kind of proverbs brought inspiration, a new hope in the struggles of daily life like:

        "If there darkness, there is brightness"

        "If there are hard times, there are good times."

Regarding or considering God is still evident.

       "We are judged and sentenced by God by the things we do."

It is true that even in the riddles it is not possible not to include the things about saints or their objects.

1. Baston ni San Jose
    Hindi maisip


2. Baston ni San Juan
      Indi makaptan.


Ilonggos has different kinds of beliefs that covers the spiritual effects just like the following:

1. The child should be baptized at the soonest possible time because it was believed that baptism has a big role in the healthy well-being  and safe from illness of the child.

2. The lovers should not exchange beads of rosary or any religious objects to each other as a remembrance or souvenir because it is a sign of short lived relationships. The exchange of necklace is also not allowed or prohibited because it might foretell their love will not last.

3. The trees which barely produce fruits or flower is being shaken with the ringing of the bell in the middle of the mass during Black Saturday of the Holy Week.

4. The people are sheltering or hiding in other trees except in coconut trees if there's lightning and thunderstorm because they can easily be hit by lightning.

To the different beliefs in marriage, death, planting or gardening and farming deeply ingrains or imprints the related or connected faith.

This is just to prove that the folklore brings a spiritual effect that not only inside the church it is inscribed, imprinted or sealed but also to all corners of life of the Ilonggos from their birth until their death.

The folklore brings effectiveness in molding character.

The early indoctrination of a young individual to ethics and religion is fulfilled through the branches of the folklore - in showing the stories that describes the love of a child to his or her parents, prayerful, obedient and many other things is tumitigib in the senses of the children and serves as their principle until they grow up.

The loving and merciful God is punishing those who disobey and deceiving, just like narrated in "Ang Pinagmulan Ng Tamawo" (The Origin of Fairy). In the denials of Eve and Adam to God they eventually lost their four children.

The gaba, Hiligaynon term for punishment or sumpa Filipino word for curse is received in disobeying the will of God or of the elders - "Alamat Ng Nagaba"  that eventually became Jordan  as a memory of the Jordan river where Jesus was baptized;  "Ang Siete (7) Islas de Pecados" gave birth to the repudiation or renunciation of the sermon of the parents of the seven maiden siblings; same as the pampering to the children will not be rewarded.

The good manners and having a kind heart is honored and rewarded like the glorification to the lady "Sara".

In "Alamat ng Sampagita" sobriety or temperance is taught, without any regrets in the end, so never be in a hustle or rush for the madness or delusion same with laziness, lack of concern for the parents is frowned upon like what was stated in "Alamat Ng Pinya" (Legend of Pineapple).

The frequent communication and closeness to the only friends of God in heaven would deliver from any calamity or disaster or danger just like what it is told in "Alamat Ng Santo Niño" (Legend of the Holy Child) of San Joaquin, "Ang Saklolo Ni San Antonio de Padua" (The Help of San Antonio de Padua) to the natives. The characteristic of being prayerful is given justice.

A person who serenades became a victim of the mantiw or Hiligaynon term for bugbear or hobgoblin for disobeying or disregarding the advice of his mother in "Ang Mantiw At Ang Manghaharana" that don't stay too late outside. It is close to danger those who never learned to listen to the sermon or advice of a caring and concerned parent so to speak.

The song "Iloilo Ang Banwa Ko" cultivates patriotism that is ready to offer everything for its glory and honor.

The proverbs can give us some lessons or reminder directly or implicitly or connotative in the right manners or behavior that shapes character. The proverbs has a great impact in manners. The advice, criticism, observations, ideas were expressed and beliefs through this. It is uncommon for the elders as well as the youth to recite the proverbs. Good behavior or characters are glorified just like assiduity, diligence and frugality, cleanliness habit, promptness and sobriety, patience and persistence, reverence and good upbringing.

It's not a good behavior to disparage and laugh at the disabilities of other people - it is indicated by the belief of not laughing to the blind, sungi (Hiligaynon term for harelip) or cross-eyed if a woman is pregnant.

A good conversation yields right or better things - talking or telling stories about saint or holy individual or sacred objects. It is important to pray for the dead. These are needed by those who passed away.

In other folk tales madadalumat the beliefs in mythical creatures like the aswangs, tamawo or fairy and mermaids. These mythical creatures were said to make friends, scaring and teasing, and sometimes punish those who harm them or anything related to them. Experiencing and seeing them is presented. Are these the product of imagination or has a trace of mystery that in an instance broke the chain that separates our world and to their world of mystery?

It can also be seen in the folklore the usual past time, leisure or form of entertainment by the natives. The Ilonggos are friendly people just like suggested in "Alamat Ng Calinog" (Legend of Calinog).

The children are usually being drawn to sleep at night through storytelling of legends, folktales or by singing folk songs or komposo.

Included are the following leisures:

promenading or strolling - Ang Alamat Ng Tamawo (Legend of a Fairy)
serenading - Ang Mantiw At Ang Manghaharana (The Bug-Bear and the Person Who Serenade)
guitar in the poem "Ang Gitara" (The Guitar)
hammock, kite in the riddle

Different angles of love and life can be found in folklore. These foretells the relationship of a woman to a man, a husband to his wife, in relationships, sulking. The revolving theme is about courtship and marriage.

In "Pulo ng Bisaya" (Island of Visayas) emanate the practice of giving tests to the rivals in love to whoever wins in the test or challenge would gain the heart and love of the lady in waiting or being wooed.

Alamat ng Pulo ng Guimaras (Legend of the Guimaras Island) - disagreement of a noble clan in a relationship with the child of a slave.

Alamat ng Gintaguan, San Joaquin (Legend of the Guintaguan, San Joaquin) -  it is also held in the test the gaining of the hands of the lady.

Alamat ng Nagapa [Jordan] (Legend of Nagapa [in Jordan]) - the disagreement of parents to the relationship of the two individuals which results to the eloping of the latter.

Alamat ng Guimbal (Legend of Guimbal) - the attraction of a princess and going with her Moro lover.

Alamat ng Sampaguita (Legend of Sampaguita) - the tragic death of the lovers

Alamat ng Makapuno (Legend of Macapuno) - the revenge of someone who does not learn to accept failure in love

The folklore of "Ang Aswang" - of how a failed, abrupt or foiled love would drive an individual to commit a crime

There are lots history of love were created in the leaves of time  in the Ilonggo songs and music that features its mystery. The drama of life is presented that is present and manifested in what is called love.

Though some of the proverbs is almost similar or resembles that of the Tagalogs and in English, in it can be manifested the philosophy, beliefs and ideas. The role of the proverbs is very crucial; it serves as tools in creating social structures in dealing and socializing with people. It is manifested there the moral ideas and social behaviors about prudence or gentleness, diligence and others. It also gives a portal of ideologies of the natives, ten of their clans and generations and views in life.

It also describes plants, objects, tools and equipment common in the province and sums up or overview the province culture, the riddles. It sharpens or straightens activities, time, history and has images inscribed or impressed from it.

The folklore presents individuality, Ilonggo culture of the past so there is a cultural impact. The school which is also a beacon of wisdom and knowledge is referred in folk tales, "Ang Kapre" and in proverbs.

It can be beamed in some of the names of the places the connection of folklore to linguistics. The term ag and ig means place or community that is ideally named according to its root word.

Examples are:

     Igbaras - place of sand (baras is Hiligaynon term for sand)
     Same with an, ma: Maasin

Different kinds of jobs, work or activities were mentioned in the legends, origins, folklore, folk songs and others. The land and sea are extremely important because they were the source of livelihood. In some branches of folklore learned the truth about the sea like an unfaithful maiden - that is sometimes demure, sweet, gentle, making out with the moon, but fool of the fools and sometimes violent, fierce or wild, and cruel. There are still different motifs of the folklore but the aquatic environment, river, streams, or lakes will never be lost. Examples of these motifs are exalting the beauty of the sea, leisure and wading in the sea, direct mention of this as subsistence or a source of income, serves as nest of recreation of the cowardly lovers, or as the punishment of heaven, place of the appearance of the saints, or objects, equipment or tools of Moro's sowing of aggressiveness or maybe it became the center of mystery. The following proves it:

     Alamat ng Iloilo (Legend of Iloilo) - the sea and river has geographical significance
     Alamat ng Kagayunan [Oton] (Legend of Kagayunan [in Oton]) - place of blue waters
     Alamat ng Dingle (Legend of Dingle) - mentions Jalaur river
     Alamat ng Pulo ng Guimaras (Legend of Guimaras Island) - the lovers jumped to the sea
     Alamat ng Buenavista (Legend of Buenavista) - it enchanted the visions of the foreigners or strangers
     the blue waters that is clothed by the rays of the sun.

In the legends of Siete Islas de Pecado, Passi, San Joaquin, and Macapuno mentions river or ocean. In the folk tale of Tan Adi can be found the vista of a river.

Even in the folk songs the ocean or sea has a connection or relevance just like featured in "Iloilo Ang Banwa Ko". The Ilonggos and the sea should never be separated.

In the poem "Suba ang Kabuhi," (River is Life), the river, sea and life became metaphors.

The proverbs feature also the stream lines, suba nga magahod (noisy river), suba nga malinong (silent river), river and wave.

The mountain has been tracked in the legend of Buenavista as well as in riddles.

The activities were mentioned in the following:

Fishermen in the lake - Alamat ng Lambunao; a man fishing - Alamat ng Lambunao; fishing - Alamat ng San Joaquin at Alamat ng Santo Niño, salt beds in Mandurriao district - Alamat Ng Iloilo; logging woods - Alamat ng San Joaquin; planter - Alamat ng Sampagita; catching prawns and crab - folk tale of Tan Adi; looking for firewood, washing clothes - folk tales about Juan Pusong.

The market is mentioned in the folk tales "Si Juan Pusong" at "Ang Tamawo". The word parian gave a label in Alamat ng Molo. The market is associated with the folk song "Ili-ili, Tulog Anay."

These were also presented by other branches or category of folklore:

     washing clothes - in the folk tale "Ang Kinuhang Asawa"
     engineer - in the folk tale "Ang Puno Ng Salay"

The proverbs mention teachers and merchants.

The word mag-araro (plowing) is included in the riddle.

Having the understanding of the environment and culture that were gathered in the folklore states a social representation of ideas and conditions of the people. We can peek in the food, shelter or dwellings, clothes, tools and equipment and transports the cultural authenticity of the folklore to the Ilonggos:

1. Food, Ingredients, Drinks:

      banana - alamat ng Gintaguan, San Joaquin
      gruel - alamat ng Isla de Pecado
      rice - alamat ng Passi
      pineapple - alamat ng Pinya
      macapuno - alamat ng Makapuno

There are told by the folk tales:

crab, shrimps - Tan Adi
watermelon - Juan Pusong
corn - Ang Aswang
palm wine (tuba) - Ang Mangingibig Na Tamawo
guava - Si Siam-Siam

In the folk songs these were included:

bread - Ili-ilo, Tulog Anay

The tamarind and vinegar were mentioned in the dance Balitaw.

The proverbs mentioned  rice, sugar, fish, crab, saba (kind of banana).

Presented by the riddles were banana heart, chili, annatto seeds,  squash, ginger, jackfruit, maize, grilled corn, coconut, egg and sweet potato.

2. Dwellings -

 Different kinds of dwellings gave life:

     Salo (Jaro) or bamboo floors - alamat ng Jaro
     palace-like house of Roca Encantada - folk tale of "Ang Mangingibig ng Tamawo"
     hut - The poet "Suba ang Kabuhi" (River is Life)
     Spanish house, house of Esok, house of doves - in the riddles

3. Clothing, Garments, Adornments or Decorations:

     camisa de chino with long sleeves - alamat ng Dumangas
     kimona, patadyong, kamisa, panuelo, barong tagalog in the dances
     necklace, skirt, watch - in the riddles

4. Tools and Equipment, Weapon:

           These were narrated and explained in the alamat or legends / origins:

     staff - Siete Islas de Peccado
     gong - Guimbal
     barong - Gintaguan, San Joaquin
     axe - San Joaquin
     dagger - Makapuno
     tapayang saro (huge jars or earthenware vessels) - Jaro

In the folk tales the following were mentioned:

fish corrals - May Anting-Anting
belts - Tan Adi
guitar - Ang Mantiw at ang Manghaharana (The Hobgoblin and the Person Who Serenades)
bolo - Isang Bahay na Puno ng Aswang (A House Full of Aswangs)
fire matches - May Anting-Anting
tagub (basket) - Tan Adi

The dance Balitaw mentions ladle and pot.

Gold, plates, brass and lead were told by the proverbs.

The riddles presents a long list: cane, calendar, cannon, grater, sword, bolo, saw or handsaw, axe, dagger, umbrella, plates, clothesline, ladle, tongs for ember, shoes, hat, pail or bucket.


In alamat or legends / origin:

raft boat - Pulo ng Bisaya
outrigger - Nagaba; Siete Islas de Peccado
vinta - Guimbal

In folk tales:

cars, sea vessels - Ang Nakatagong Lunsod ng Barotac Viejo
raft - May Anting-Anting

There are also referred or talked about political organizations just like the establishment of Spanish government in Iloilo in "Alamat ng Iloilo", and "Alamat ng Gintaguan, San Joaquin" which mentions the barangay as an institution.

It was enunciated in the folklore of having a colorful imagination and creative idea of the natives.

In the folk songs and dance we can learn the artistry of the Ilonggos. The folk songs like "Iloilo Ang Banwa Ko," "Ili-ili Tulog Anay," and "Dalawidaw," can we find rhymes of different combination. The folk songs in the province reflects the gentleness in conversing of the natives. It is also the same with their vivacity in the jovial songs about butterflies and common objects.

Figures of speech were considered. It can be noticed in the folk songs the birds and flowers were used figuratively or connotative in mentioning the angles of love. The owl bird (murogmon or bukaw in Hiligaynon) is usually symbolizes a young man saving his affection to a young lady that might be a maya bird or pating Hiligaynon word for dove.

Almost all of the love songs are sentimental.

It can be said that the feelings of concern and care for the things of the environment and of the earth by the Ilonggos is very much alive in their poems. It can be noticed in the Ilonggo poems the rhythmic and deep thoughts contained.  The poem of Hernando Siscar entitled "Akon Ka Duawon" is deeply emotional. Simple and colorful words were combined. The "Gitara" (Guitar) of Magdalena Jalandoni has a melody and carrying nostalgia. It seems like there is a sound that is reflected or manifested in the words is coming and felt by the readers or those who recites the poem. The "Suba Ang Kinabuhi" by Delfin Gumban has a stand out pretty similarity and comparison in poems. The poems of Agustin Misola, Santiago Alv. Mulato and Nilo Pamonag are very rich in mental pictures or visuals and retrospect.

Having a sense of humor as well as creative imagery was seen in the interweaving loa of the Ilonggos.

The superstitious beliefs follows these qualifications: conceiving, pregnancy, childbirth, baptism, child-rearing or raising a child, courtship, marriage, death and different kinds of beliefs. These beliefs really has a big role or involvement that gave life to their different behavior or practice, tradition and culture.  Some others cover the power of God, things that cultivates trust in God or binds us to God and to each other. It can be malilimi known the claims of ardor beliefs of the native to the Almighty Creator. Examples of these are the following:

- the baptism of the child most especially at the soonest possible time in the belief that baptism has a big role in being healthy and safe from illnesses and sickness of the child;

- the stairs should face the east or where the sun rise because in this position, the family who will settle will become very happy and comfortable in everyday of their lives;

- offering of prayers for the dead;

- belief in rainbow as a sign of heaven's blessings;

- deep or solemn contemplation or reflection on the Holy Week that brings further love for God and fellow humans;

- singing of religious hymns; praying, chants or incantations to be saved from lightning and thunder;

Other folk beliefs are about good manners and proper behavior just like:

- not laughing or taunting or mocking the blind, sungi (Hiligaynon term for harelip), or libat (Hiligaynon word for squint-eyed or cross-eyed) for the fear of having children with those kind of disabilities. Pregnant or not, this kind of behavior deviates from good manners;

- plates were never stacked up while there are still eating;

- one must have a complete of everything or fulfilled what is needed during the celebration of the New Year so that throughout the entire year one will not miss or will not be insufficient or short of anything;

One thing that should continue is concerning about giving respect just like asking permission from the parents before getting married and most especially concerning about the expression of fervent faith.

While others should not be believed because they were just hindrance to progress of personal life, society and culture just like:

- wearing of necklace with a dangling crocodile tooth or any object that will serve as a weapon against evil spirits. Instead of these, medals, crucifix  or sacred objects should be used.

- not giving of rosaries or religious objects of lovers. Isn't the offering or giving of holy or sacred objects will further give blessings to the beautiful relationship of the couple; that seems like they are in custody of heaven?

This post first appeared on Ocean Breeze, please read the originial post: here

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Synopsis About Iloilo's Culture, History, Literature and Tradition


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