ETHNOASTRONOMY IN DAMIANA L. EUGENIO’S PHILIPPINE FOLK LITERATURE

ETHNOASTRONOMY IN DAMIANA L. EUGENIO’S PHILIPPINE FOLK LITERATURE

Posted on July 7, 2017

The Legend of the Shooting Star, A Bicol Folklore

I slowly accumulated the complete 6-volume set of Damiana L. Eugenio’s monumental work Philippine Folk Literature Series. The work is very rich in Filipino folk literature relating to Astronomy, which is particularly important in the study of Filipino Ethnoastronomy. I would like to dig deep into this work in order to reveal the richness of Filipino folk literature and the greatness of our ethnoastronomical knowledge, beliefs, culture and traditions.

Have you ever spent the night under the stars on a clear, cloudless night far away from the city lights? If you did you should have seen some shooting stars even when there were no scheduled meteor showers such as the Leonids, Perseids, Geminids, Orionids, and others.

Perseid Meteor Shower- Mojave Desert, California, www.google.com.ph

A legend from the Bicol region says that shooting stars are their Prince Bantugan, described in Eugenio’s work as “the most handsome, strong, brave, and as generous as he was handsome”.

He was the favorite young man of the gods from the town of Anggugurang, and a lot of places in the Bicol region have been named after him. He was chosen by the god Bikol to be a celestial messenger, and so he lived in the Palace of the Gods in heaven. He was seen no more by the people in his town.

Before this happened, Prince Bantugan had a sweetheart, actually his betrothed, described by Eugenio as “the most beautiful maiden of the tribe of Acle”. Her name was Bautong na Doncella. As I could not understand the meaning of the name, I asked Dr. Salvacion Pachejo who is a Bicolana to translate this for me. She wrote “Magandang Dalaga.”

Poems by famous Bicol poets have been inspired by her. Places in Bicol have been named after her, but tragedy was to strike soon. According to Eugenio, “Doncella’s beauty was so legendary that an encanto fell in love with her and kidnapped her. She disappeared one day and was never heard from.”

The desperate Prince Bantugan looked for her everywhere but she could no longer be found. Perhaps the gods took pity on him and this is probably why they sent him to the Palace of the Gods. From there he visits earth in the form of meteorites. The people of the town of Buhi in particular see him often, as shooting stars are said to be frequently seen in this town.

They think Prince Bantugan visits them as he is the shooting stars themselves, but the legend also says that he has never given up in looking for the beautiful Doncella.

Categories: President's Corner