Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Notes on forms of Philippine pre-colonial prose

Notes and anecdotes on the forms of Philippine pre-colonial prose, mostly taken from my Filipino 14 class under Mr. Popa.

    Philippine pre-colonial prose was made with the primary objective of explaining events that happen in nature, events that happened in the past and contemporary beliefs so as to ease one's fear of his/her environment. There are several types of Philippine pre-colonial prose. First are the highly similar mito (myth) and alamat (legend).

    The mito deals primarily with the creation or destruction of certain things. Through the mito, the community's acceptance of the cycle of life and death is expressed. Also, the mito is a method through which the needs, problems, responsibilities and goals of the community are embedded, which in turn bolster the community's unique culture. The mito is considered sacred amongst the people of the community, containing beliefs and values that the community places importance in. The mito usually takes characters from the world of gods and spirits and the world of human beings and serves as a bridge through which the two worlds meet. As such, it is an important part of rituals and is recited during religious events.

    The alamat is another form of pre-colonial prose that usually centers on a certain hero from the maharlika, or upper class. The hero's goal (and by extension the alamat's) is to defend the interests of the tribe/community it represents. Like the mito, it dabbles in supernatural forces and abilities, and is also taken to be factually true.

    The kuwentong bayan is a secular form of pre-colonial prose that centers on a class persona from the alipin or taumbayan (the lower class). Its main objective is to show the life of the ordinary person in light of the vastly different life of the maharlika. It usually employs comedy, with stories that use trickery and silliness, a method by which the lower class gets to bring down the maharlika a peg or two. The kuwentong bayan may be recited during special occassions and gatherings, such as drinking ones.

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