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.