Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Notes on the awit

Notes and anecdotes on the awit, mostly taken from my Filipino 14 class under Mr. Popa.

    The awit or awitin, loosely translated as song, is a form of Philippine pre-colonial literature that existed across many regions and dialects, such as the Tagalog, Pampango, Cebuano and Ilongo tongues. It employs the usual characteristics common in all forms of poetry; specifically, rhyme and meter. However, it is not as restrictive as the other forms, usually employing heptameters and octameters (although not at the same time) alongside a single rhyming scheme. It is also chanted and not simply recited. One example is as follows:

Original:Translation (English):
Ang mangingisda't anong hirapBeing a fisherman is hard
Maghulog bumatak ng lambatDropping and retrieving nets
Laging basa ng tubig dagatAlways wet from seawater
Pagal at puyat magdamagTired and lacking in sleep all night

This awitin from the Tagalogs employs a nanometrical syllabication, which is a little unusual. However, the single rhyming scheme is followed, with all ending syllables having the malakas na katinig sound (for more information, consult Additional Resources#1). The use of this type of rhyme has an onomatopeic effect; the sound is harsh, reflecting the fisherman's hardships noted in the text. This awit romanticizes the life of a fisherman as he goes about his daily routines. Being transcribed as an awit, this poem may have been used not only to highlight the hardships of the fisherman's life but also as a way to distract the fishermen from their work. The awit can be formed and used to stave off the banality of daily routines, providing a diversion from their boredom while also becoming a reminder of the importance of their profession.

    A certain form of the awit is called the uyayi or oyayi, and is from the Tagalogs. Loosely translated, it means lullaby, and is usually used in the same manner. It employs the malumanay sound and repetitive verse, and can be didactic or ridiculous. A simple example is as follows:

Original:Translation (English):
Kung lumaki't magkaisipWhen you grow up and become aware
Ikaw bunso'y magbabaitYou, youngest should be good
Mag-aaral na masakitStudy very well
Ng ??? malinis*?????*

This oyayi is probably chanted in a soft manner to lull the child to sleep. The verse is repeated until the child falls asleep, while also serving as a calm reminder to the child to study well when he grows up.

    Another example of an awit is as follows:

Original (Mangyan):Translation (Tagalog):Translation (English):
Si aypod bay upadanMahal na kaibigan Dearest friend
No kang tinagindumanLungkot ka sa isipanYou bring sadness to my memory
May ulang madi kagnanIlog ang naghihiwalayA river keeps us apart
May takip madi kaywanMay gubat pang pagitanA forest too, in between
No kang tinagindumanNgunit pag naalalaYet when I remember
Ga siyon di sa adanganWari ko'y narito kaI feel that you're here
Ga pagtangdaysaKaharap ko't kasamaIn front of and alongside me

This certain awit employs a heptameter and a single rhyming scheme. It is chanted, and while the chant may not follow the line breaks syntactically, the awit gains a certain flow that enhances the listener's experience once heard. Using the reference to nature, the song is able to elevate the message of the awit to a deeper level, allowing the listeners greater insight into the sorrow that the speaker feels.

    The awit is used in formal speeches called arambahan. It is also sung during large gatherings such as the panludan**. However, it is also used for practical purposes, such as courting rituals, and other religious functions. Sometimes, the awit is transcribed in elaborate objects, such as the ones etched on bamboo displays made famous by the Mangyans.

    A certain form of awit, called the kalusan, is common amongst the Ivatans. It is a song used during the harvesting seasons. One example is as follows:

Un as kayaluhan, kakaluhan
Un si payawari, parinin,
Un nu akma diwiyaten
Un as payawa, paypisahen;
Un as payawa, palagen,
Un si wayayat mo nay.

    Another form of awit is the tagay by the Cebuanos. It is a song freqeuntly used during gatherings, especially drinking ones.

Ay, Liding, Liding, Liding,
Ay, Liding, Liding, Liding,
Uhaw tagay.
Uhaw tagay.
Uhaw tagay.
Kon walay sumsuman
Ihawan ang hinuktan
Uhaw tagay.
Uhaw tagay.

    Last is the dung-aw of the Ilokanos. It is a short biography of someone who had died and is sung during that person's funeral wake.

Additional Resources:

  1. Mahahalagang tala tungkol sa katutubong tugma at sukat ng tulang Tagalog by Michael M. Coroza

* Text missing due to undecipherable writing
** Unsure spelling, may be incorrect

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