Kapampangan Origin Story - Looking Elsewhere...


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            Hello everyone! Kumusta ka! Welcome to today’s episode. And it’s something of a special one. Or I guess it kind of is. This episode marks the end of the beginning. You see, I started this podcast with my own origin story and then thought it would be poetic to turn to the origin stories of the Philippines only to realize that I didn’t fully understand the scope of Filipino mythology. Like, I knew nothing. Well, I mean I knew there was a lot I didn’t know. Which is low hanging fruit if there ever was some.

            But you know, I’ve had fun. I’ve found that I really, really like reimagining and retelling stories. In this way, I guess I’ve proven myself to be my grandfather’s granddaughter, which is not an established expression but still feels accurate. I think I’ve really come into my own through this, in some small way. I mean yes, H. Otley Beyer has been a bit of an annoyance. And look, I’ve done my best to keep my frustration in check because I still stand behind a potentially misguided belief that he was doing his best given his circumstances. Circumstances that weren’t ideal for someone who took the historic and culturally significant place that he did. But it is what it is.

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            That’s the part of the podcast you can see. In terms of behind the scenes stuff, I found the Aswang Project during the brief period of time this podcast was in the development stage. (Pause) Yes, it should have be longer, I know, but I’m making the most of it now. The Aswang Project is a website and a collective endeavor to gather as many Filipino folklore stories, myths, and legends as possible in one easy to navigate website. Obviously this desire to explore my grandfathers’ stories led me to this website. I had to pour through it.

            That’s when I found the first origin story. One that led me back to Beyer. Now, I haven’t just stuck with his accounts, but once I was reminded of this dear old friend, it only felt appropriate that I return to his work and bring him into this. Whenever possible. It wasn’t always possible.

            In fact, that’s how I missed this particular story. It’s wasn’t in his paper. I found it again when I went back to the Aswang Project to play around. I clicked through a few stories, and there it was. I’m not proud that this happened. In fact, it probably bothers me more than it bothers you. And still, I’m going to go ahead and say, not my fault. Because not only is this story not attributed to Beyer, the attributed source is not easily found on the internet. Or I’m just really unlucky. Which is very possible

            Regardless of all of that, I still think this is a story worth telling. So that’s what this episode is. Well, it will be this and next episode. And then I’m taking the first posting day in April off to do some prep work and I’ll be back on April 25th with what will feel like season 2, probably except that season will never seem to end. Hopefully.

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            I genuinely want to leave Beyer out of this as much as possible, but knowing his track record, I wonder how much confusion he first encountered when he encountered this group…

            Traditionally, the province of Pampanga is the homeland for this ethnolinguistic group, although that’s what we say now. They once occupied a vast stretch of land that reached the central area of Luzon, where the Tagalog people have traditionally resided. And because of this—or so I imagine—we see some level of blending between the two mythologies. I wonder if he focused on that or if he noticed the distinction. And I’m sure you’ve noticed that he and I need some time apart.

            So it’s a good thing this isn’t about him. This is about this group of people who produced four presidents, three chief justices of the Filipino Supreme Court, a senate president, and the first Filipino cardinal, amongst others. Yeah, remember when I said I wanted to do episodes profiling famous Filipinos? That’s something I would have loved to be able to refer to as a kid, so that’s where this is going to go.

            But more important for this context, this is a group of people with a proud history and tradition, and that extends to food. Pampanga is hailed as the “Culinary Capital of the Philippines,” and if my office chili cook-off experience is anything to go by, the bar for Filipino food has always been very high. Then again, this designation can’t be that surprising. Sisig, kare-kare, and tocino all come from this region. And just to reveal a bit of my hand, my grandmother knowingly stocks up on tocino when I go to visit, so there’s that.


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            But you didn’t come here for that. You came here for an origin story, and I’m really into this one. You see, I went through an astronomy kick when I was younger that I don’t think ever truly went away. And this story scratches the itch that I didn’t realize I still had. What’s even more interesting, this story parallels what is generally understood to be the earth’s beginning: a violent and restless formation, drawn out over what could feel like an eternity relative to our daily life.

            I’ll leave it to you to fill in the blanks and imagine how they came up with what they did. That part doesn’t interest me so much. It’s always been more about the story than anything else.

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            So let’s get to that.

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            It may be hard for you to fully understand the scope of space and time. It’s something we will never fully experience, and it’s something we’ll never need to worry about. But if you want to understand where the universe came from, it’s something you need to try and think about.

            The story I’m about to you happened in a time long before us and in the space outside of the world we know. (Pause) What? Did you think there was space for the gods here among us? How cute. They are far too big for this world. And if they were here, we would have noticed. They would have towered over heads. They would have spread their limbs into the ocean and create catastrophic waves to swallow us up every time they moved. They would have kept the sun from us. And our crops. Oh, the chaos they would have caused had they come here with us…

            And of course, back then, there was no earth for them to inhabit. Back then, the gods and goddess only had the universe to dwell in. (Pause.) Only the universe. How silly of me.

            It just seems more isolating and that makes it feel like a loss. The gods and goddesses each had their own domain on stars and planets like ours far apart, spread across the void. It could take hundreds of years for even a being as mighty as a god to cross from one planet to another. And yet, they remained connected in many regards. Modern families can’t even manage that half the time, but the gods could do it. Perhaps it was because of the temple that connected them all, in the otherwise empty patch of the universe.

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            Then again, they were also all under the dominion of a supreme god and goddess. The great god dwelt in the sun, his bride in the moon, and their daughter lived in a planet not too far from our own. Or from the temple, for that matter.

            From time to time, the supreme god would summon all his vassals to the temple for a council that would decide on the current affairs in the universe. He was a surprisingly fair and knowing being. “Knowing” in that he knew he did not know all. And so there were matters in which he deferred to his vassals for guidance. These councils were few and far between, truthfully. The universe being so sparse and barren there was hardly any need, and the distance being so great that it served as a deterrent. But honestly, the gods wouldn’t have cared how frequent the calls or how great the distance they had to trek was, they always came when they were summoned. After all, this was their duty. And they understand that the delicate balance of the universe depended on their willingness to maintain order.

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            And so, one day, faithfully they swarmed upon their meeting place, the elements of the universe rippled from the force of their chariots as they rode. But disturbances like that—brief and in pursuit of a higher end—resolve themselves rather quickly.

            At the temple waiting to greet them was the daughter of the supreme god. She is perhaps what we would call the princess of sorts. The princess of the universe or the princess of the gods. It is hard to say if that is accurate. While she had the strength and abilities of her parents and no siblings to contest her throne, her parents would not fade away as earthly kinds and queens do, and this goddess had a good heart that would never lead her to seize what was not hers.

            Undoubtedly, though, she was beautiful. That could not be debated or denied.

            Beauty is undoubtedly wonderful, though I don’t need to convince you of that or of how badly we want to approach it when seen. Even after millennia, these truths have not faded from creation. Even after all this time and all our sins…

            The princess of the universe waited at the gate for all the gods to arrive. Her beautiful glow drawing them in. Drawing them into the Temple. And then past it. (Music cuts) On to her.

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            And then her father who found himself bombarded with requests for his daughter’s hand in marriage. And unsure what he should do about it. But he would have to figure it out quick, he could tell. The eyes of the love-struck gods were restless.

            And his princess, a delicate lamb in den of lions.

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            Thanks for listening. I just want to remind everyone that this podcast is going on a brief break in the early part of April but will be back on April 25th. In the meantime, you can check out Miscellany Media Studios’ other podcasts, Miscellany Media Reviews and The Oracle of Dusk. Find them wherever you hear my voice or find links at our website: miscellanymedia.online.


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