The Wonder of Philippine Epic Stories

Since the time of immemorial, Filipinos have possessed such minds full of creativity. Out of their daily labors, chores, and experiences came numerous wonderful works of literature like songs, poems, proverbs, myths, and other folklore stories. These are evidences that the Filipino culture was already rich even before the Spanish colonization took place. Like all other civilizations around the world, Filipino culture has taken roots on its own.

Given the abundance of Philippine literature, its epic stories are interesting enough to be focused on. Biag ni Lam-Ang, Aliguyon, Tuwaang, Agyu, Bantungan, and Indarapatra at Sulayman are few of the several famous Philippine epic stories. These all depict a native hero (or two) who has tremendous powers which are usually given by gods and goddesses as a gift in order to protect and fight for his land or a loved one. Moreover, each epic story tells a reader about the culture of the place where it originated from. All in all, Philippine epic stories reflect the Filipino culture in the past, more specifically the pre-historical identity of the Filipinos. These further serve as a peek hole of what the past looked like —how the natives think, their beliefs, their activities, their lifestyles, and many more.

As aforementioned above, these epic stories reflect the Filipino identity. Although these display the wild and vast imagination of the Filipinos, these also show some negative Filipino traits. Through the characteristics of the heroes, one could infer that Filipinos are somewhat gullible or easy to trust and believe other people. This might be the indication why Filipinos wholeheartedly accepted the foreign Spanish invaders during that time.

It is also important to note in the epic stories the similarities of gender stereotyping between the Filipino society and the society of many other countries where the men have the “macho image” and are considered as the stronger sex while the women have “helpless image” and are considered as the weaker sex. It is indeed evident here that the gender roles which are still imposed in our current society came from the country’s distant past.

Understanding one’s culture includes studying both the past and the present times. Looking back to his country’s past allows a Filipino to fully grasp and appreciate his present cultural identity. And since there are no written records about the Philippine history before the Spanish colonization, spending time on reading past Filipino literature such as these epic stories could help quench his thirst for knowledge about the origins of his being.