Author Archives: juliettn

Maria Makiling

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Filipino
Age: 49
Occupation: Secretary
Residence: Chicago, Illinois
Date of Performance/Collection: 3/15/2016
Primary Language: Tagalog
Other Language(s): English

Background: Y.G.M. is a 49-year-old Filipino woman who works at Nye Partners in Women’s Health as the office manager. She was born and raised in Quezon City in the Philippines, and lived there until she was 25 years old. Y.G.M. self-identifies as Filipino, and as a result of her upbringing, Filipino culture is very engrained into her personal beliefs. She attended college at Mirian College, and received a bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts. Y.G.M. then immigrated to Chicago, Illinois with her family in 1997, and got her first job working at Citibank in River Forest, Illinois. She now lives with her husband in a suburb of Chicago.

 

Main piece:

Y.G.M.: So Maria Makiling is uh, one of our mythological um, how do you call – creatures – or no no sorry – she’s one of the fairies, uh, that we believe in.  Fairies they call us diwata, usually they are beautiful women. Maria Makiling, she is associated with one of the mountain ranges in the Philippines up north called Mount Makiling. So she is supposed to be like really beautiful lady and in the Philippine mythology she is the one who actually protects the mountains and volcanos and the forests in the Philippines. She is like the guardian of the mountains and um, responsible for protecting the, you know, the mountain. Sorry. The mountain resembles like the body with two breasts and the face of uh, a woman’s face.

 

Q: Where did you learn this from?

 

Y.G.M.: Uh, my Grandma Cion used to tell me this story when I was little. Also, my teacher from 3rd grade told me this story, and… and it was in a lot of children’s books. You know, like books of Filipino legends.

 

Performance Context: This story would typically be told to Filipino children to teach them more about Filipino folklore and legends.

 

My Thoughts: I think it is interesting that mythical creatures are such a vital part of the culture, even in making up the landscape of the Philippines. This shows a close relationship between the pride Filipinos find in their landscape and the pride in their culture and folklore.

Un hombre con pelo en el pecho vale dos

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Salvadoran
Age: 18
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles, California
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/24/2016
Primary Language: Spanish
Other Language(s): English

Background: E.M. is an 18-year-old student at USC studying Cinema and Media Studies. She is Salvadoran but as lived all over the US, so she has picked up folklore and customs from a lot of different places. Her father grew up in El Salvador, so Salvadoran culture has been engrained into her upbringing and has influenced things that she learned from her parents.

 

Main piece: “Un hombre con pelo en el pecho vale dos,” “A man with hair on his chest is worth two”

 

“So this is a proverb that my father told me- he’s from El Salvador. To me as a joke-it’s not something he believes, just something he heard growing up and he thought it was funny so he decided to share it with me.

 

Basically what the proverb means is that you are more of a man if you have chest hair! It’s a parody of the more recognizable proverb that exists in both Spanish and English since It’s a comedic take on the proverb “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

 

It was something he would hear a lot growing up from his dad and brothers, as well as something that got repeated a lot and is all boys school. It was usually said to tease boys who didn’t have facial hair yet as that was seen a sign of immaturity or weakness. My dad says that to get revenge, sometimes the boys who were teased would shave their bully’s’ chests in their sleep! It was all in good fun though – this wasn’t a proverb that was taken very seriously or meant to be truly insulting.”

 

Performance Context: This proverb would be told usually among men, from older men to younger boys.

 

My Thoughts: I think this proverb better reveals Latin American society’s attitudes towards boyhood, masculinity, and coming of age. It is definitely used in a way such that growing chest hair makes a person part of “the group,” as the person now has something that all of the other members of the group have.

Hilots in Filipino Culture

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Filipino
Age: 49
Occupation: Secretary
Residence: Chicago, Illinois
Date of Performance/Collection: 3/15/2016
Primary Language: Tagalog
Other Language(s): English

Background: Y.G.M. is a 49-year-old Filipino woman who works at Nye Partners in Women’s Health as the office manager. She was born and raised in Quezon City in the Philippines, and lived there until she was 25 years old. Y.G.M. self-identifies as Filipino, and as a result of her upbringing, Filipino culture is very engrained into her personal beliefs. She attended college at Mirian College, and received a bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts. Y.G.M. then immigrated to Chicago, Illinois with her family in 1997, and got her first job working at Citibank in River Forest, Illinois. She now lives with her husband in a suburb of Chicago.

 

Main piece:

Y.G.M.: So Filipinos also have superstitious beliefs like um a person called Hilot [hee-loht] which is an expert woman who can deliver um deliver a mother in labor so they are supposed to have supernatural powers to just deliver a woman without any problems and they are blessed you know to be in to help women in labor without any problems – kinda like midwives.  So it’s like they have supernatural powers to do that instead of taking women to the hospital.

 

Q: How are the Hilots chosen?

 

Y.G.M.: They say, like “oh I have that special gift from above to perform such a miracle,” like a special gift from God.

 

Q: Is it from a specific God or just all the gods?

 

Y.G.M.: All the gods. And up to this moment, they still believe in that.

 

Q: So they just self-proclaim themselves as Hilots?

 

Y.G.M.: Yes yes – uh huh.

 

Performance Context: Hilots would be used to help women during childbirth in the Philippines.

 

My Thoughts: I think that it is interesting how the Filipinos relate childbirth to a religious and magical process with the use of Hilots’ god-given powers to help women in labor. Instead of using “medicine” in the general sense to help with childbirth, this practice shows that Filipino culture believes more in religion and magic to assist with everyday life.

Minggan the Giant

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Filipino
Age: 49
Occupation: Secretary
Residence: Chicago, Illinois
Date of Performance/Collection: 3/15/2016
Primary Language: Tagalog
Other Language(s): English

Background: Y.G.M. is a 49-year-old Filipino woman who works at Nye Partners in Women’s Health as the office manager. She was born and raised in Quezon City in the Philippines, and lived there until she was 25 years old. Y.G.M. self-identifies as Filipino, and as a result of her upbringing, Filipino culture is very engrained into her personal beliefs. She attended college at Mirian College, and received a bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts. Y.G.M. then immigrated to Chicago, Illinois with her family in 1997, and got her first job working at Citibank in River Forest, Illinois. She now lives with her husband in a suburb of Chicago.

 

Main piece:

Y.G.M.: So Minggan is also like a mythological creature and he’s a giant that lived in the Sierra Madre mountains which is up north in the Philippines and it was believed that he was in love with um a mountain goddess called Mariang Sinukuan. From time to time he would be in the mountains and um, he Mariang Sinukuan, the goddess, wanted to put him to a test and he could only win her heart if he would pass that test. Um – she wanted him to stop the river from flowing so they can build a pond in the mountains but Minggan failed the test.

 

Q: How could he have completed this test?  What was he supposed to do?

 

Y.G.M.: He was supposed to, um, create.  He was supposed to stop the river from flowing and build a pond in the mountains so she can be with all the living things that live under water. He was supposed to complete it before evening.

 

Performance Context: This story would typically be told to Filipino children to teach them more about Filipino folklore and legends.

 

My Thoughts: There are many stories throughout all of world folklore where there is a plotline involving a series of trials that the protagonist must pass in order to succeed, as in this legend. This idea of trials is a common motif and plotline that can be found in many folktales and myths. This element can be noted in Propp’s 31 Functions as well as in the ATU.

 

For another version of this story, please see Page 34 of Tales from the 7,000 Isles: Filipino Folk Stories: Filipino Folk Stories, written by Dianne de Las Casas and Zarah C. Gagatiga.

Casas, Dianne De Las, and Zarah C. Gagatiga. Tales From the 7,000 Isles: Filipino Folk Stories (Tales From the Seven Thousand Isles). N.p.: Libraries Unlimited Incorporated, 2011. Print.

Filipino Creation Myth

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Filipino
Age: 49
Occupation: Secretary
Residence: Chicago, Illinois
Date of Performance/Collection: 3/15/2016
Primary Language: Tagalog
Other Language(s): English

Background: Y.G.M. is a 49-year-old Filipino woman who works at Nye Partners in Women’s Health as the office manager. She was born and raised in Quezon City in the Philippines, and lived there until she was 25 years old. Y.G.M. self-identifies as Filipino, and as a result of her upbringing, Filipino culture is very engrained into her personal beliefs. She attended college at Mirian College, and received a bachelor’s degree in Communication Arts. Y.G.M. then immigrated to Chicago, Illinois with her family in 1997, and got her first job working at Citibank in River Forest, Illinois. She now lives with her husband in a suburb of Chicago.

 

Main piece: So in the Philippines mythology – the creation – there’s this one region up north that it says like creation started first – there were like three gods – Bathala, who was the caretaker and then Ulilang Kaluluwa and Galang Kaluluwa.  So those three gods did not know each other, then when Ulilang Kaluluwa met Bathala (the caretaker, which is one of the gods) they um kind of competed with each other and um he um like a how do you call that – was into a fight with Bathala to see who was the best and then finally he dies, so he was buried and the third god, which Bathala met – they were getting along with each other – he also died.  So when those two – when Bathala buried those two gods, then um he saw that there was like from the buried bodies like a tall tree grew with like a round nut and then from there he opened – Bathala opened that nut – which is like a coconut and then it looked like inside eyes, nose, ears so that’s when he kind of figured out that he got lonely that he has to create man and woman.  So that’s where creation started in that thing.  From the trunk of the coconut – that’s where he built the house – the house for men and women that he created. And the leaves of the coconut and the food for those people they got it from the coconut juice and the meat – that’s where he fed the people with those from the trees. So that’s where creation started.

 

Performance Context: This story would typically be told to Filipino children to teach them more about Filipino folklore, myths, and legends.

 

My Thoughts: I think that because the coconut is such a symbolic and important element in this creation myth, it shows how vital and central the coconut is to Filipino culture and the Filipino people. The central theme of the coconut may also reflect that the Filipino people have a tradition of making their livelihood through agricultural goods, and they find pride in this.

Ghost of Antetum

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Salvadoran
Age: 18
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles, California
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/14/2016
Primary Language: Spanish
Other Language(s): English

Background: E.M. is an 18-year-old student at USC studying Cinema and Media Studies. She is Salvadoran but as lived all over the US, so she has picked up folklore and customs from a lot of different places. When she was living in Maryland, she would often take tours to historical sites and picked up multiple stories from each of these sites and the people she met there.

 

Main piece:

When I lived in Maryland, we would often visit Civil War battlesites. Um and one of the major ones that was near where we lived was Antetum in Sharpsburg Maryland? Yeah Sharpsburg. Basically one of the bloodies battles of the civil war happened there. And it’s very chilling to go now because it’s all cornfields and it’s very quiet and lonely and you really get a sense of quiet and foreboding when you’re there. One of the park rangers actually shared this story with me, with us, with our family, um about uhh these strange happenings that occurred around a road known as Bloody Lane in the middle of the battlefield. Some people had reported smelling gunpowder when they walked down the lane and later it was found out that that road had been the site of this kind of standoff between the Unions and the Confederates where they were basically shooting at each other from opposite sides of the road for hours, and thousands of people died there. So it was said you could hear gunshots in the distance or even battlecries. There was also an old bridge in the park, um, where you could supposedly hear distant drumming if you walked over it at night. When I asked the park ranger whether they thought it was true, um she said that uh she had never experienced any of the gunshots or any – she had never heard anything strange. But one time she saw a woman dressed in this very old fashioned style? in the middle of one of the fields? Reading a book. And when she saw her, she assumed she was a reenactor, because there were civil war reenactments all the time, so she assumed it was a costume. But when she asked back at the visitor’s center, when she asked one of the coworkers if they were having any events that day, and the coworker said that they weren’t. So um she didn’t actually believe that she had seen a ghost, but she said that it was definitely one of the stranger things that had happened to her while she was there. When she went back the lady was gone.

 

Performance Context: This legend would be told when tourists would visit the battle site of Antetum in Sharpsburg, Maryland.

 

My Thoughts: I think that this legend was either created or shared as a way to get visitors interested in the history of the place, because everyone loves to hear ghost stories whether they believe in them or not. Such stories help visitors to connect to the site and to make it come more alive, especially for those who are not as fascinated by history.

Cow Manure as a Medicine

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 58
Occupation: Nurse Practitioner
Residence: Franklin Park, Illinois
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/22/2016
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Background: C.M. is a 58-year-old woman living in Franklin Park, IL. She was born in Chicago, and has lived in the Chicagoland area for all of her life. She works as a nurse practitioner at Nye Partners in Women’s Health, and has been working there for 7 years. Before that, she worked at Loyola University Medical Center as a labor and delivery nurse. She is married and has two grown children.

 

Main piece:

C.M.: I heard this story from my dad. He told me that before he was born, and he was born in 1932, that his mother’s brother, his name was Georgie, but his name was actually just George. His last name was Wilming, W-I-L-M-I… I think? N-G.

 

Anyway, they lived out in Iowa on a farm, I think in Elizabeth, and they were using dynamite sticks to blow out the tree stumps out of the ground, ya know, to clear the land. One of them blew up and – he was there, he was too close – Georgie, and he got injured. He had wounds, terrible open wounds from the explosion. And in order to heal these wounds, they smeared cow manure on him, and they healed! They used home remedies because there were no doctors at that time, and this one worked.

 

Q: And how did your dad learn this story?

 

C.M.: My grandma told my dad, my dad told me, and now I’m telling you!

 

Q: Did the wounds heal completely?

 

C.M.: Yup! There apparently was no scarring or anything.

 

Performance Context: I interviewed the informant over the phone, as I am in California and she lives in Chicago. This remedy would be used out on the farm, especially in the early 1900’s, when someone got terrible wounds and there were no doctors around to prescribe any Western medical treatments.

 

My Thoughts: I think that it is interesting how, without access to a doctor, people were able to come up with easy home remedies, coming from easily accessible material, to take care of the problem. However, I am curious how someone figured out that cow manure could be used as a healing salve in the first place! Folk medicines are not always superstitions, they can also be founded in fact. Many folk remedies eventually end up being validated in the scientific community, so it is possible that this one might, as well!

“El Justo Juez” – The Just Judge

--Informant Info--
Nationality: Salvadoran
Age: 18
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles, California
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/21/2016
Primary Language: Spanish
Other Language(s): English

Background: E.M. is an 18-year-old student at USC studying Cinema and Media Studies. She is Salvadoran but as lived all over the US, so she has picked up folklore and customs from a lot of different places. Her father grew up in El Salvador, so Salvadoran culture has been engrained into her upbringing and has influenced things that she learned from her parents.

 

Main Piece: So growing up in El Salvador, my dad heard this story about this ghostly creature, called the Just Judge. Um so according to the story, he was um he would appear only in the night, and he would be riding a black horse. Um and when you got close to him, you would realize that he had no head, just like um a cloud of smoke coming out of his neck where his head should be. Um so it was said that um that if you approached him, he would say to go back inside your house. You would only see him very late at night when no one else was around. And he would say that the night belonged to him, and that you shouldn’t be there. My uncle actually claims that he saw him, and that when he tried… and that he saw this figure. He saw like this cloud of smoke on the street when he was walking out at night on like a very deserted street, and when he went through it, he claims he saw that figure in the cloud of smoke, and that it walked right through him, like the horse walked right through him like it wasn’t made of anything. Um so he panicked and he ran back home. Um but since that day, he’s kinda rationalized it by saying that it was an optical illusion or that it was a cloud that was really low, so he doesn’t actually believe in it. But it’s always fun to entertain the idea.

 

Performance Context: This tale is usually told from parents to children to keep them from staying out too late. It was probably a cautionary tale, so they came up with this frightening creature to keep kids from staying out past their curfew.

 

My Thoughts: I think it is interesting how people have come up with such legends in order to precaution their children against doing certain things, yet these stories become so integrated into society that people believe they have seen or heard the characters described in these legends. This legend almost seems reminiscent of the Sleepy Hollow Legend with the headless horseman.

Cheerleading Sleepover

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 22
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles, California
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/24/2016
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Background: A.S. is a 22-year-old student at USC studying Occupational Therapy. She was born and raised in Los Angeles, and both of her parents are professors at USC. She was a founding member of the cheerleading team of her high school, and the experience of being on this team helped to define her high school experience in general.

 

Main piece: I went to a really small high school, so we never had a football team, just a basketball team. My sophomore year of high school, a few girls (including myself) founded a cheerleading squad. At first, we weren’t very good. Our coach was a competitive cheerleader her whole life, though, so she began to increase the amount and intensity of practices and we eventually got pretty good after two years. Our second year, we went to state competitions and at this point I was our captain. Making it to competition was a huge deal because we were finally earning some credit in the cheer world. In preparation, my coach encouraged me to do something to get our squad excited and ready. So I decided to host a cheer sleepover the weekend before our competition, a sort of sisterhood-like night to bond. It became a tradition for my high school that every weekend prior to a competition (the squad goes to multiple competitions now), the cheer squad has a sleepover at the captain’s house. I only got to do it twice while in high school, but it’s nice to hear that it’s still tradition! The new captains send me & my old coach a photo each time it happens.

 

Performance Context: This sleepover ritual would be performed over the weekend before a competition.

 

My Thoughts: This sleepover ritual is a way for people to feel that they belong to a group, and that others are looking out for them. It is a way for the cheerleading team to have a shared experience and even have team bonding.

Feasts Natalae

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 22
Occupation: Student
Residence: Los Angeles, CA
Date of Performance/Collection: 3/15/2016
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Background: A.S. is a 22-year-old student at USC studying Occupational Therapy. She was born and raised in Los Angeles, and both of her parents are professors at USC. The informant’s mother told this story to the informant multiple times, especially when describing her childhood or her favorite holiday. This was her mother’s favorite time of the year, because it was the one time that she could be all together with her family and celebrate, even though they were Jewish and the tradition revolved around a Christian holiday.

Main piece: “My mom was born in Rome but grew up in New Jersey. Her mother was Italian and she was also Jewish…which is interesting since there aren’t too many Italian Jews. Anyways, she still celebrated Christmas because her father was raised Catholic. So my grandmother would prepare a traditional Italian meal for Christmas in the house when they lived in New Jersey. It wasn’t like other Christmas dinners in the states…it was like specifically Italian. So they would have a bunch of courses, seven I think, because of the seven sacraments or something, and almost all of them included some sort of fish plate, but no meat. I think my mom told me it was called um.. oh it was called Feasts Natalae. It was traditional in Italy to have the dinner on Christmas eve but it was still called Christmas dinner I think. Each course was fish because it’s like a kind of fasting…they just don’t eat meat. My mom said this was a really special time for her because she knew her family would be together. And it wasn’t even about the holiday or religion or anything, it was about being with her family.”

Performance Context: I interviewed the informant while we were both together, sitting on a couch, in the house where she lives on west 28th Street in Los Angeles. Feasts Natalae would typically be practiced on Christmas Eve, and is a prominent tradition in Italy. This tradition would be practiced by Anna’s mom’s family every year.

My Thoughts: I think that this story is representative of the fact that each culture and each family has a different way of celebrating Christmas, both culturally and religiously. Each nationality and each individual family has a way of making the holiday special for them. There are a lots of Christmas traditions around the world that aren’t officially coming from the church, but are still important to families and have to do with Christmas.