Author Archive
Legends
Narrative

Filipino Aswang Myth

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Informant: This is Aswang, which was, like, an imp-like creature that takes the form of a baby. Like, a lot of peoples call it, like, a demon-baby. Basically, if you hear crying in the woods… like it’s usually found in the woods, and it’s usually making, like, a cry of a normal baby, like, it sounds stressed in order to lure in the people and try and make them get lost. And, if a person picks up the baby, he sheds his skin, like, like, like, his baby form, like, sort of like a snake and reveals his demon form and sinks his fangs into the person who picked him up.

Interviewer: Oh, so this one is very descriptive. Like, it’s very descriptive of the characteristics of like.

Informant: Yeah.

 

Context- The informant is a young man who immigrated from the Philippines to the U.S. at a young age. Although he is Catholic, he grew up hearing about the native folklore and mythology of the Philippines from members of his family as a way to preserve their heritage.

 

Analysis- The legend most likely comes from the fear of getting lost in the woods. Most likely people would get lost in the woods and be found later dead from exposure or attacked by an animal. As some animal calls can sound like babies crying, people probably assumed that those lost in the woods were lured there by such sounds in order to be attacked by some sort of demon.

Myths
Narrative

Filipino Creation Myth

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Informant: So, um, I’m probably gonna start with the creator of the universe…

 

Interviewer: Oh?

 

Informant: … or back then for traditional Philippians. There were three gods. There was Bathala. He was the caretaker of the universe. There’s Uilang Kaluluwa, which was a serpant who lives in the clouds, and there’s Galang Kaluluwa. All of these gods were separate from each other, like, they didn’t know each other, but then one day Bathala and Uilang both met on Earth and they merely just started fighting each other cause, like, they didn’t want any other god stepping into their realm. Bathala eventually won and killed Uilang and buried him in Earth. A couple year later, Galang, the winged god enters the equation but dies on Earth, but asks Bathala to, uh, to basically bury him where he buried, where he buried the… serpant god. After a couple days passed a giant coconut tree sprouted and a coconut fell down, and the husk reminded him of Galangs, like, head, since it had two eyes, a nose, and a mouth. So when… so when he removed, the, um, husk from the coconut, Bathala basically figured out… how he was going to create like on Earth and all the vegetation around him, so he… he created us, the humans and clothed us with the leaves from the coconut tree, built the houses out of the wood from the coconuts, and gave us coconut juice to drink, and the white meat from coconuts to eat. And that was basically how… well, for my culture, how, like, the universe… or, our world, was created.

 

Context- The informant is a young man who immigrated from the Philippines to the U.S. at a young age. Although he is Catholic, he grew up hearing about the native folklore and mythology of the Philippines from members of his family as a way to preserve their heritage.

 

Analysis- This mythology is, like many, made by this culture in order to explain the origin and workings of the universe. The depiction of the god, Uilang Kaluluwa, as a serpent and the winged god, Galang, most likely reflects the abundance of snakes and birds in the Philippines. The importance of the coconut in the creation mythology also shows the value of the coconut in the Philippines as it, along with the coconut trees, were used in many important ways such as housing and food.

For another version of this story see: “The TAGALOGS Origin Myths: Bathala the Creator” on The Aswang Project (https://www.aswangproject.com/bathala/)

general
Myths
Narrative

Filipino Eclipse Myth

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Informant: This one is one of the horror folklore. Like, the majority of what I chose was the horror folklore cause that was basically what I was taught. So this is Bakunawa. It’s basically a giant moon eating serpant.

Interviewer: Oh… okay.

Informant: He was basically the duwata of the underworld, and duwata’s basically… a rough translation to English is basically deity. He was the deity of the underworld and he kind of admired the seven moons and… I don’t know why we had seven moons, but the seven moons in the Philippines were basically, like, gods, I guess. So Bakunawa was kind of, like, enthralled by the beauty of the moon, so uh, he transformed into this giant serpant with one wing of a dragon and one smaller wing in the background. He had, like, catfish tendrils coming out of his face. He had a mouth the size of a lake to swallow up the moon.

Interviewer: Oh, wow.

Informant: Buit, and, so, in the Phillipines, when we have eclipses, we believe it was Bakunawa, that’s, like, eating up the moon. That’s why we have eclipses.

Interviewer: Really?

Informant: Yeah, but, Bathala, the… like, basically, our Jesus, um, prevented him from doing it, and any time Bakunawa attempts to try to eat the moon again, um, the Filipino’s would drive him off by… by smacking cans and other metal things to create sound to scare him off, or they would play music and kind of like, making him fall into some kind of eternal sleep. And for Bathala, he took offence to Bakanawa for eating the moon… well, attempting to eat the moon, so he cursed Bakanawa into maintaining that form for the rest of eternity.

 

Context- The informant is a young man who immigrated from the Philippines to the U.S. at a young age. Although he is Catholic, he grew up hearing about the native folklore and mythology of the Philippines from members of his family as a way to preserve their heritage.

 

Analysis- Like the informant said, this myth was most likely created to explain solar eclipses. When the moon begins blocking the sun, the gradual covering could make it seem as though something is swallowing the sun. The banging of the metal can probably be attributed to the temporary nature of eclipses. Because the people had to explain why the eclipse ended, they attributed it to noise they made. Due to the celestial nature of a giant creature swallowing the sun, the occurrence of Bathala, a Philippines creation God, in this myth could be attributed to the combination of the stories in order to create a singular mythology.

Legends
Narrative

Filipino Bangungot Myth

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Informant: Next one is the Batibat or the Bangungot, which is… okay, so for a rough translation, Bangungot translates into, like, a, uh, nightmare or… death from nightmare. So, uh, so, basically this is an evil tree spirit that takes the form of a giant four hundred pound fat lady, and who, if anyone cuts down the coconut tree or, or actually, the tree its currently living in and builds a house with it, that spirit follows that person and hides in the creaks and corners of the house and waits for the, uh, the person to fall asleep. And when the person falls asleep, the giant spirit, it sits on the, on the, on its, on her prey and suffocating them to death. And basically this was kind of way for the Filipinos way of explaining death caused by nightmare since then they’ve kind of scientifically proven the reason why these people died wasn’t because of the evil spirit but rather just…

Interviewer: Shock?

Informant: Yeah, shock from the nightmare.

 

Context- The informant is a young man who immigrated from the Philippines to the U.S. at a young age. Although he is Catholic, he grew up hearing about the native folklore and mythology of the Philippines from members of his family as a way to preserve their heritage.

 

Analysis- This legend is probably attributed to two causes. First is sleep apnea, which causes people to stop breathing as they sleep. The idea of a demon suffocating a person as they sleep and causing them to die could be an explanation created by people who did not fully understand the biological causes of sleep apnea. It could also be attributed to sleep paralysis. People waking up and being unable to move, and in some cases hallucinating, could lead to the idea of a demon attacking the person and crushing them. The difficulty of explaining both of these phenomena could lead to the creation of a single legend.

Legends
Narrative

Mexico City Volcano Myth

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Informant: Basically you grew up with all these legends and all these stories, but the most famous was La Llorona and the next famous is the famous is the story of the volcanoes that are actually in Mexico City. There’s two big Volcanoes, so there’s Popocatepetl? Which is hard to say, and… I forgot the lady’s name but I can look it up for you. So the legend goes that these two… a princess, kind of like a princess on like the Aztecs and a warrior, they fell in love. So the dad tells him to go fight for, you know, the… at the time of war the dad of the girl says “go fight and I’ll save my daughter for you, you know, you can be a hero and just come back and you can be… uh, you can marry her.” So he does. He leaves to war and she stays but there is this other guy that is in love with her, and he’s envi… you know like he envies his position and he says, “well, this is not going to happen,” so he poisons the girl, and she dies. When he comes back and he finds out that she’s dead, he just can’t take it. So there’s these different stories, but the one I know, it’s about him finding out… he comes back like a hero. He fights for country, and he finds out that she’s dead, so he goes to the highest mountain, supposedly this is the highest mountain in Mexico, and he lays her and he, um, holds a torch to keep her… he wants her to know he is there. So the legend is those two persons are those two volcanoes. If you go to Mexico City, you will see two mount- volcanoes, and one looks like a lady laying down next to the volcano that is, uh, Popocatepetl, and that volcano is pretty much… they said that when it makes the… like when there’s the… smoke coming out of it, it’s him saying he still loves her.

Interviewer: Aw, that part is cute. It’s a bit cute

Informant: Well, that’s good, but actually those two volcanoes are pretty famous in Mexico City because you can really see the image of a lady laying down and Popocatepetl, which is pretty active.

 

Context- The informant is a middle-aged Mexican immigrant who grew up in Mexico City and then immigrated to Los Angeles in her teenage years. She has many family members still in Mexico City, so she learned many of these legends from those family members both while growing up and during her frequent visits and phone conversations.

 

Analysis- This story interests me not only because of the origins of this story being seen in the natural landscape around Mexico City, but also because of the common tropes seen in folktales and legends. Common folktale tropes in this story can be seen in the main character being a princess, who is poisoned, the warrior being sent on a task to prove his love, and a villain getting in the way of the romance. I also find it interesting that this story is fueled by the natural characteristics of the volcanoes, such as the fact that smoke comes out from the one associated with the warrior and the fact that the one associated with the princess is shaped like a woman laying.

For another form of this legend see: “The Legend of Popocatepetl and Iztaccíhuatl” on Inside Mexico (https://www.inside-mexico.com/the-legend-of-popocatepetl-iztaccihuatl/)

 

folk metaphor
Folk speech
Humor

Mexican Euphemism

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Informant: Now this is a grosero one. This is like a bad one, like, um, I will say it to you because someone might come up with this one.

“Mucho jamón para dos juevitos.”

(Translation: “Too much ham for two small eggs”)

Both the informant and interviewer laugh 

Interviewer: I understood that one.

Informant: That is like, famous. People will say… like if they see a skinny guy with a big girl, they say “hm, mucho jamón para dos juevitos.” That’s referring to… you know what.

 

Context- The informant is a middle-aged Mexican immigrant who grew up in Mexico City and then immigrated to Los Angeles in her teenage years. She has many family members still in Mexico City, so she learned many popular phrases from those family members both while growing up and during her frequent visits and phone conversations.

 

Analysis- This metaphor is a very playful and informal one about dating and sex. Euphamisms are often amusing for people so it is not surprising that the imagery of ham and eggs is metaphor for sex. The phrase is probably a funny and more polite way a spreading gossip from one person to another. Instead of making an actual critical comment about a persons weight, they use a metaphor and present it as a joke so that the criticism would be more accepted.

Folk Dance
Game
Musical

Little Sally Walker

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Informant: So, “Little Sally Walker” is a game where there’s a bunch of people and you run in a circle… or, somebody runs out and they run in a circle. They go in a circle and they sing

 

Little Sally Walker

Walking down the street

She said “I didn’t know what to do”

So she stopped in front of me and said

 

(Now they stop in front of a person and the person copies their dance)

 

“hey girl do your thing

do your thing

hey girl do your thing do your thing”

Now stop!

 

And after that they do the same dance move and the person who did the dance move goes on and goes in the same circle and it continues to go along for a while.

 

Context- The informant is my twelve-year old sister. She learned these songs while going to various summer camps over the years and has often taught them to her friends so that they could sing them together for fun.

 

Analysis- This song has two aspects to it: the vocal and the physical. The singing alone would amuse children, but its combination with a dancing game would probably make it a great source of entertainment for younger children. It is also a great way for camp counselors to distract children when they are waiting for activity or event. The game only requires the knowledge of the song and, therefore, could basically be played anywhere. This fact probably helps the counselors when they need more time for preparation for activities, using the song to entertain the children while they wait.

Childhood
Musical

Happy Llama

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Interviewer: So, what’s the song called?

Informant: Happy Llama.

Interviewer: Okay. Go.

Informant:
Happy llama, sad llama

Totally rad llama

Super llama, drama llama

Big fat mama llama

Baby llama, crazy llama

Don’t forget Barack O’llama

Fish, fish, more fish

Turtle! Unicorn! Peacock!

 

Context- The informant is my twelve-year old sister. She learned these songs while going to various summer camps over the years and has often taught them to her friends so that they could sing them together for fun.

 

Analysis- This song was primarily created to amuse children and it does so by relying on randomness and silly sounding words. Llamas are often amusing to children so basing a song after them makes sense. Words like rad, crazy, and big fat mama are often humorous to children because of their silliness. The songs appeal then comes from the silliness of the words and the combination of those silly words with the funny animal, the llama.

Musical

There Was A Great Big Moose

Text

Informant: This is called “There was a Great Big Moose.”

There was a great big moose

(There was a great big moose)

Who liked to drink a lot of juice

(Who liked to drink a lot of juice)

There was a great big moose!

(There was a great big moose!)

Who liked to drink a lot of juice

He went “woah-oh”

(he went “woah-oh”)

“Way-oh, way-oh, way-oh, way-oh”

(Way-oh, way-oh, way-oh, way-oh)

“Way-oh, Way-oh”

(Way-oh, way-oh)

“Way-oh, way-oh, way-oh, way-oh”

(Way-oh, way-oh, way-oh, way-oh)

 

Context- The informant is my twelve-year old sister. She learned these songs while going to various summer camps over the years and has often taught them to her friends so that they could sing them together for fun.

 

Analysis- This song is amusing mainly because of the absurd rhymes. The lyrics of the song make no logical sense and instead focus on making lines rhyme. This focus on rhyming is probably what makes the song amusing to young children, as young children like to rhyme. The song also as the added element of having a leader sing the lyrics initially and followers repeating those lyrics, which makes the song sort of a game that can be played by the children singing.

folk metaphor

Mexican Phrase: “Descacharon con manos en la masa”

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Informant: You know what masa is? You know that, that doe that my mom uses to make the sopes?

Interviewer: Oh yeah.

Informant: That’s called masa.

Interviewer: Oh yeah, yeah. I know masa.

Informant: So, if you are doing something mischievous, people will say to you “descacharon con manos en la masa.” “They catch you with your hands in the dough.” That means they catch you doing something.

 

Context- The informant is a middle-aged Mexican immigrant who grew up in Mexico City and then immigrated to Los Angeles in her teenage years. She has many family members still in Mexico City, so she learned many of these legends from those family members both while growing up and during her frequent visits and phone conversations.

 

Analysis- This metaphor is very similar to the American one about catching a kid with his hands in the cookie jar. Both of these metaphors mean the same thing but have different culture connections. Because chocolate chip cookies and cookie jars are popular cultural imagery of the United States, the use of such imagery would not have the same affect in Mexico. The use of masa is logical as masa is used to make a variety of Mexican dishes. Because masa is so widely use, kids sneaking tastes of it while their mother was not looking would be very common. Therefore, the use of masa in this saying is appropriate.

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