History

In this page, you can also share any of the following:

  • the story about your place of origin (mention original Blaan name if applicable)
  •  important burial sites
  •  rituals and cultural practices you knew growing up
  • myths and legends you learned from your Fu, Tame, Ye or other Blaan elders
  • anything of historical importance to the Blaan tribe

You can write it in Blaan, Tagalog or English.

You will be recognized as the author/contributor.

Send your historical account via e-mail to
tubadblaan@yahoo.com.

Below are some Blaan myths and legends as shared during a cultural research project conducted by the Indigenous Peoples Development Program (IPDP) of Sarangani Province with historian Dr. Heidi K. Gloria. The output of the research resulted to the publication of a book called Sarangani Peoples and Cultures.

If you knew of any cultural research publication from your home province, we can also have a link to share that research.

Music background for this page (Dwata Mangfunis an original composition by Kernie Fanagel.

Bong salamat!

The indigenous peoples (IPs) constitute a significant segment of the Philippine society. As defined by the Indigenous Peoples Rights Acts (IPRA), IPs are those groups of homogenous societies identified by self-ascription, who continually lived as organized communities on communally bounded and defined territories which they have occupied since time immemorial, sharing bonds of language, customs, traditions and who become historically differentiated from the majority of the Filipinos (Section 3, Article II, RA 8371).

  

The Spaniards who were the first outsiders to describe the Blaan thought that their name was derived from their supposed place of origin, the region around the Lake Buluan in Central Mindanao. The Spanish missionaries who were the first to observe the various non-Mulsim groups further noted that the Blaan settlements were widely dispersed throughout Mindanao. Then as now, the largest concentrations of Blaan are found in central and southern Mindanao. Most of the Blaan settlements are found in the Allah and Koronadal valleys but considerable numbers live in the mountains west of the Davao Gulf from Balutakay and all the way down to the bay of Sarangani including two islands of Balut and Tumanao at the entrance of this Bay. West of Malalag in the present Davao Del Sur Province, the Blaan inhabit the mountains and the grassy plains but are kept from occupying the coasts by a stretch of homesteads traditionally owned by the Tagakaolos who are mainly riverine dwellers as their name implies. Between the districts of Davao and the Cotabato, the Blaan predominate as far back as the American period in the 1900s (Fay Cooper-Cole, 1913).

West of Sarangani Bay, the Blaans live in close association with the Tboli with whom they intermarry. East of the Bay, intermarriages with Maguindanaos also go back to several centuries which is why influences from both groups are evident in the Blaan culture. The wonder is that the Blaan identity has remained distinct from both the Tbolis and the Maguindanaos and the today Blaan and the Blaan-speaking peoples are one of the most numerous indigenous groups of Mindanao (Gloria, H.K, Carino, J.L., et.al. 2006).

The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) also noted that although many of the Blaan adopted the ways of modern Filipino and have been integrated into the main body politic, the Blaan still believe and practice indigenous rituals and customs. Blaan’s religious and traditional beliefs, practices and rituals have evolved out of our relationship with our land, forest and the diversity of resources therein. The interconnectivity of these factors plays important role not only in the economic aspect of our life, but also in the development of our culture and religion, our socio-political systems and our community in general.  

Blaan Myths and Legends 

Blaans called the world Banwe or Tah Tana. Fye Tana is how they describe the world when there is sunlight. It is Se Tana, when the wind is blowing and the sky roars and unleashes thunder while the sunlight and the rain take place at the same time (mayaw tana). The world was created by Dwata. A long time ago, there was no land and there was only darkness. They called the land Tah Tana,the sky as Tah Labun, the ocean as mahin, the rivers as salwen or ba yeel, the stars as blatik, and the mountains as bulol.

The people were created from ashes and were given a human form. The eyes and nose were also created. When Se Weh created the nose, he positioned it in a way that water could not easily get into the nose when it is raining. Then the figures made of ashes were cooked and became human beings. The ones that are brown were cooked just right.

Creeks before were straight, not zigzag.Fye Weh wanted it straight, the creeks as blangon (hearts), the sand as rice, and the water as oil and dugos so that people will leave a good, smooth life. However, Se Weh, the evil one wanted the creeks to be full of stones so that the people would die when they hit their heads on the stones as they stumble. He also wanted the creeks to be in a zigzag form to provide warring peoples, some place to hide. People live a difficult life because of Se Weh (Helen Lumbos, Malungon, Sarangani Province).

The Blaan name for God is Mele. The term "Dwata" was barrowed from the Tboli. No one knows Mele's gender or appearance. No one has seen Mele except those whom Mele has called to be his companions (mabatun) in the eight heaven. Mele is also known as Ftabo To, one who gives life to human beings, made the horses and the other animals, so that persons who have comitted offenses to the tribe may be able to pay for their offenses to the tribe may be able to pay for their offenses. Mele expects obedience from all human beings who look to Mele for life without death (immortality). Dis-obedience to Mele warrants punishment.

A good spirit does not envy man and does not harbor anger against humans. The bad spirits are called busaw, or gaman, these are the purveyors of death. These spirits influence man to commit offenses that lead to their death. The spirits of the trees (amfun kayo), water (amfun eel), or hills/mounds (amfun bungtod) are easily appeased. They let us know if we have, in any way, offended them. If they are offended, a token (damsu) may be offered to them to ask forgivenes, which is ordinarily given.
 
In ancient times,  the Blaan had a prophet known as Mlabat, a known leader who had many properties and wealth and two wives. One day, he called all his relatives and told them that he dreamed that god would soon call him to join the eight heaven. Mlabat will soon become a mabatun, a companion of the god and will soon go to heaven. He told all his family members to prepare for the event. Not all of his relatives took his words seriously and some seriously doubted Mlabat. The first to defy Mlabat was his brother-in-law, whom he told not to work on his kaingin anymore but to prepare to accompany him to heaven. Mlabat also told his brother-in-law that on the day he sees the splinters of wood from the trees that he is cutting turn into butterflies (kalbangi), he should go home immediately since this is the sign that Mlabat will ascend to heaven. But Mlabat's brother-in-law went on cutting trees for his kaingin, and it was late when he finally got home. Upon arriving, he saw the whole house of Mlabat lifted from the ground with Mlabat inside. Mlabat's brother-in-law was turned into an insect (miw).

Next, Mlabat told a sister in law not to continue washing clothes in the river for he would soon go up to heaven and would take her along. Mlabat warned the sister-in-law that when her falo-falo (a piece of wood used for trashing clothes) turns into a fuh (bird), that would be the sign of Mlabat's ascent to heaven. For not listening to Mlabat, the sister-in-law turned into a fuh.

The third to dis-obey Mlabat was his second wife, whom he told not to dig camote (sweet potato) anymore because he would go up to heaven and would take her along. His wife insisted, saying that she would cook the camote in order to be able to eat when they go up to heaven. Mlabat warned her that when the daludol of the camote turns into kyawit (bracelet) and the camote itself turns into a byokong (shells which are pounded into lime for making betel nut chew), that would be the time that Mlabat would go up to heaven. When his wife finally finished digging for camotes and went home, Mlabat was gone, as punishment, she turned into a monkey.

Before reaching the eight heaven (banwe fanggula), Mlabat had to pass the seventh heaven. The following signs indicated the eight heaven:
1. sufe blawen ( a yellow bamboo with many thorns) - Mlabat had to cut his way through this bamboo thicket, the eight heaven;
2. falimak (agong) - The God's told Mlabat that when he hears the sound of this agong, it was the sign that he had already crossed the second heaven.
3. ye-el banwas (water that gives eternal youth) - God told Mlabat to drink this water with his right hand. When Mlabat did this, he became a young man again. With hjis left hand, god told him to give a drink to his first wife and his children, who accompanied him. As he did so, his family was also gifted with eternal youth.

Mlabat began to feel sorry for his relatives that were left behind, and asked if god might also give them eternal youth. Mlabat also worried that up to this time, he had only heard god's voice, but had not seen god. But god told him not to worry, for soon he will see god. Finally, at the end of his journey, he and his family reached the seventh step, and at this moment, they all raised their right hands towards the sun. As they did so, they saw god, resplendent in its glory and all bowed their heads. In the eight heaven, happiness, sickness, and anxiety were no longer felt. Everyone looked like Mlabat and they all lived happily with god in their midst. This is the place that everyone hopes he/she will be. From this eight heaven, known as banwe fanggula, god gave everything Mlabat needed. God also told him to return to earth, he would have to travel for 80,000 years. This is because Mlabat still worried about his people who were left behind in banwe fanbaya (earth). So god allowed him to go back to earth through a dream. When Mlabat saw the sorry conditions of his relatives, he asked god to give them various powers and make them amloos so ordinary people will ask favors from them. This is why the Blaan believe that forests, streams, trees, stones, etc. have owners or spirit protectors whose permission must be sought before appropriating any of them. At the same time, the amloos' help may be also sought for help or cure of sickness. When a Blaan is sick, it is believed that a spirit had been offended and in order to cure the sick person, the ceremony dmatah must be performed to ask forgiveness of the amloos. All those who were punished by Mlabat for dis-obedience to him became the bad spirits of this earth (Betty Katug, Malapatan, Sarangani Province).

While the mother was out in the fields to gather some beans (monggos), a Busaw took her two kids, one of which was a girl. Busaw brought them to his world located somewhere between the land and the gu samfa (heaven), Busaw will offer the children to his guests. Datu Ngabal (the older brother of the two kids), searched for his brother and sister. He searched the place for Busaw. Inside Busaw's palace, he saw his brother and sister playing musical instruments entertaining Busaw's friends. He walked around the palace until one of the guests saw him. Busaw approached Datu Ngabal, and the two began to talk. Datu Ngabal told Busaw how grievous their mother had been since his brother and sister were missing. There and then, Datu Ngabal killed Busaw and all of Busaw's guests. He then freed his brother, his sister, and all the prisoners in the palace. He brought them to their lands and brought happiness to his kin. Datu Ngabal has a musical instrument so small, yet has a sound that could reach the farthest places. Its sound echoes back with fortunes (Sung by Herminia Lacna Lumbos, Malungon, Sarangani Province).

At the beginning, the companions of the god, Lumabat, in his travels across the skies were all human beings. One day, while traveling, Lumabat asked someone named Angok to make some plates out of the tree, Ago-o. Since there were no trees in sight, Angok murmured, "Lumabat should have asked for this while we were on the ground where there are banana leaves..." But Lumabat heard Angok and, offended by his remark, pushed Angok off their flying ship. As soon as Angok's body fell to the ground, it took different form. His head took the shape of gabi and a ladle, which accidentally fell from Lumabat's ship became Angok's tail. Thus, Angok became the first monkey in the Blaan creation (Sung by Dad Buan, Mindang Salwa, Martin Tamba and Herminia Lacna Lumbos).


Watch the Blaan-Creation story courtesy of mimodel on You Tube for some similarities of the oral accounts mentioned above.













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