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December 12, 2010

2

Is the Dragon the Visayans’ Bakunawa?

by Pangga Gen

Is the Dragon the VisayansBakunawa?

First, let me say that after Alice in Wonderland, How to Train Your Dragon was the second movie I saw in 3D. I watched it in the same moviehouse in my neighbourhood mall, and the ticket came with “free” items: a box of pop corn and a bottled juice drink. No, thanks palangga, I said because you know, I never liked popcorn especially when it’s already huyot – that condition when something supposedly delicious, and therefore enjoyable, is no longer desirable. Like when it’s patay, dead, or kupos, shrunken. Susmaryahosep!

Yes, you utter this expression about something like this. Note that this is the contracted Jesus, Mary, and Joseph: venerable characters among Catholics. See how we Filipinos bastardized former mother Spain’s religion and language. Sus Ginuo, holy cow of the Father! What was labelled “free” was actually an add-on to the ticket price.

The movie was about Viking dudes fighting dragons. Coming-of-age blah-blah that ended in brotherhood: oh yeah, let’s go for equality and world peace. Not that I’m not a fan of Bono (the hunk of U2, in case you don’t know), but it was so pirit, pilit - imposed that it was contrived, not organic.

And so, let’s just talk of dragons instead.

The dragon is a popular mythical character – always there in any adventure story way before I ever heard of George Lucas or 3-D.I remember our grandmother’s “Sang una nga panahon…” (“Once upon a time…”). Lovely creature that spits fire at the hapless prince-hero on his way to save the palangga, beloved princess, tucked in some underworld by some evil suitor. Raw-ay, ano pa abi (Ugly, what else). Remember, too, that the hero had to answer a riddle. Paktakon, you guess, for a price and a reputation as maaram (wise, intelligent).Pogi points (mark of being handsome, attractive) in the early times, when perhaps, as the movie wants us to believe, dragons surrounded us, and they were so feared that they had to be killed. Pamatyun!

And so I remember bakunawa. Our Visayan mythical creature said to be the cause of eclipses. Because this bakunawa, serpent-like with wings you can ride, eats the bulan, the moon, and so darkness descended upon the earth and mankind feared for his fortune. It was eating bulan, as in lamon (devour, swallow), that we rushed outside with our palanggana (water basin) for a glimpse. We made sounds with the hope that these would lull him to sleep, and the moon would be left up there. It was a spectacle until we heard the news that the appearance, the phenomenon, was actually an omen of a forthcoming disaster. Hala ka (Be warned)! And so we behaved, palangga.

Salamat sa Diyos, thank God, there is science. But don’t be fooled. The dragon remains a powerful symbol. Look at China. Yes, the dragon-dancing Chinese. Their country is spitting fire and America is grumbling. Okay, you might say, an old dragon whose tail is still a kick-ass. Uh-uh. Indi mag-ugot (don’t be angry), don’t make away (quarrel) with me; just read this somewhere. You know me, pasaway (deviant). Oh, exactly like that Viking boy. That was why he befriended a dragon and proved to his tatay (father), the barangay captain (chieftain), and the whole baranggay (village) that dragons are mayad (good), mapinalanggaun (loving), masarigan (reliable) creatures who are meant to bulig (help) men and women toward a malinong (peaceful) and mainuswagon (prosperous) co-existence.

Whew, this sounds like your politician’s campaign ad, huh? Now you know, palangga, why the movie was a turn-off. Dragons are right there, galupad (flying) toward your face, before your very eyes kay 3D man bala (because it’s in 3D) but ambay gani, a (I don’t know why), there was no magic. Like it lacked imagination in graphic and production design. Not as spectacular as, I might say, that memory of the bakunawa sighting.

But okay, we can’t turn back time. No time as well for kasubo (sorrow, loneliness). Never mind if Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of My Heart” is a YouTube sensation. It was sad enough that the pop corn was huyot and the bottled juice drink was, ew, sugary. Got to cut down on that, you know. So let’s answer the pamangkot (question), which could also be the paktakon at this moment: Is the dragon the bakunawa?

I tried to remember, asked around, searched online and offline, and here’s what I realized: their dragon is also our dragon. Yes, the Visayans’ bakunawa. Like Viking is Norwegian, right? Now it’s Hollywood.That leads us to the punto, point, that you can make tudo-tudo (point with finger) like it’s your original 3D straight to your face: not only to our eyes, but hopefully to our utok, brain, as well. No one owns dragon exclusively but the Kalibutan, the Universe.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Dec 13 2010

    yes, i think so fuji. thanks for your kind words.

  2. fuji m.t.
    Dec 13 2010

    thanks for this..its possible that ‘bakunawa’ could be the fabled dragons of old.i love the way you play with words.its apt for our current short-attention-span-age…

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