The province of Pampanga is traditional homeland of the Kapampangans. Once occupying a vast stretch of land that extended from Tondo to the rest of Central Luzon, huge chunks of territories were carved out of Pampanga so as to create the provinces of Bulacan, Bataan, Nueva Ecija, Aurora and Tarlac. As a result, Kapampangans now populate a region that extends beyond the political boundaries of the small province of Pampanga.
It is no wonder that Pampangan and Tagalog mythology mirror one another so much. I have no doubt that shared stories from the ancient Kapampangan region have influenced Tagalog Mythology as well as the other way around. Much of this can be tied to the Indianized influence and the Datus and Rajahs who came from the Pampanga region, but there are still stories which are unique to the area. The Formation of the World is one such story. It is of particular interest to me because it talks about a very violent formation of the world over an extremely long period of time. This Pampangan tale was documented by Alfredo Nicdao, in 1917, so it is unlikely that the local residents had a firm understanding of the Precambrian Era of Earth at the time – because very few people in the world were hypothesizing about it at the beginning of the 20th century. Still, as you will read, the story would seem to parallel the science and indicate an inherent understanding of how the earth was formed. Perhaps it is just a coincidence, but I am learning more each day about how advanced the thinking was of early Filipinos.
In geologic time , Precambrian time encompasses the time from Earth’s formation, approximately 4.5 billion years ago, until the start of the Cambrian approximately 540 million years ago (mya). Because the Precambrian is not a true geologic eon, era, period, or epoch, geologists often refer to it as Precambrian time (or simply, Precambrian). Precambrian time represents the vast bulk of Earth’s geologic history and covers nearly 90% of Earth’s history.
Within Precambrian time is the “Hadean” Era (from Hades, the Greek god of the underworld) describes the hellish conditions then prevailing on Earth: the planet had just formed and was still very hot owing to its recent accretion, the abundance of short-lived radioactive elements, and frequent collisions with other Solar System bodies.
What makes the Kapampangan beliefs even more interesting is that Mangechay, the creator in the myth below, is also known as ‘the net weaver’. Through science, we know that dark matter forms a sort of cosmic web of filaments and sheets that intersect at nodes where galaxy clusters form. Again, this may be all coincidence and a far-reaching match on my part, but as science (still in its infancy) progresses in its understanding of energy, it finds more validity in the religious beliefs of our ancestors.
Formation of the World (Creation Myth)
A long, long time ago, the universe was full of gods and goddesses. Of all these gods there existed one supreme god by the name of Mangechay. He ruled the universe for several millenniums with great power.
These gods lived in the different planets, and their common temple was suspended in the air. These planets were far apart. It took hundreds of years to go from one planet to another.
The great god who ruled over them lived in the sun and his bride lived in the moon. Their daughter lived in a planet called after her name (presumably Venus).
The supreme god sent for all his vassals to meet in great council to decide on a certain affair in the universe. The gods responded to the call and the elements were disturbed greatly by the swiftness of their chariots.
As soon as they gazed at the beautiful daughter of Mangechay who was seated on her golden chair the gods were charmed at her beauty. Instead of deciding on the affair of the universe, the gods proposed marriage to the pretty goddess.
The great god was troubled and did not know on whom he should confer the hand of his daughter. Finally he decided that the question was to be settled by combat. The gods returned to their respective abodes and made the necessary preparations.
The encounter lasted for several thousand years and nearly all the gods perished. During the battle the daughter of Mangechay died and consequently the trouble ended. The great god, after the combat, looked down and saw the earth of today to his great surprise. The earth was formed by the great masses of stones used in the fight.
- Mangechay or Mangacha – The great elder, is said the creator of the Heavens, it is said that she is the ‘net weaver’ with the sky as her weaved fabric and at night the stars that shine are the fabric holes.
- Aring Sinukûan – The Kapampangan sun god of war and death, taught the early inhabitants the industry of metallurgy, wood cutting, rice culture and even waging war.
- Apûng Malyari – The moon god who lives in Mt. Pinatubo and ruler of the eight rivers.
- Tálâ – The bright star, the one who introduced wet-rice culture.
- Munag Sumalâ – One of the children of Aring Sinukuan who represent dawn. Also known as the golden serpent.
- Lakandanup – Son of Aring Sinukuan, the god of gluttony and represents the sun at noon time.
- Gatpanapun – Son of Aring Sinukuan, the noble who only knew pleasure, his name means ‘afternoon’ in Kapampangan language.
- Sisilim – The child of Apûng Malyari, she represent dusk and greeted by the songs of the cicada upon her arrival, her name means dusk or early evening in Kapampangan language.
- Galurâ – The winged assistant of Aring Sinukuan, he is represented by a giant eagle and believed to be the bringer of storms.
- Nága – Are serpent deities known for their protective nature. Their presence in structures are talismans against fire.
- Lakandanum – A variant of the Naga, known to rule the waters
Source: “Pampangan Folklore,”Alfredo Nicdao, (1917)
ALSO READ: IGOROT Origin Myths: The Creation
2018 © The Aswang Project
Jordan is a Canadian documentary director/ producer. He made the 2011 feature length documentary THE ASWANG PHENOMENON - an exploration of the aswang myth and its effects on Philippine society. Currently he is in post production for "The Aswang Project" web-series, which will feature 6 myths from the Philippines. The TIKBALANG, KAPRE and BAKUNAWA episodes are available to watch on YouTube.
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