Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Notes on the Philippine Epic

Philippine folk literature reaches its highest point of development in its epics. These are long heroic narratives that recount the adventures of tribal heroes. E. Arsenio Manuel calls heroic narratives in verse “folk epics” or "ethno-epics” and defines them in terms of characteristics common to them as,

1)      narratives of sustained length,
2)      based on oral tradition,
3)      revolving around supernatural events or heroic deeds,
4)      in the form of verse,
5)      which is either chanted or sung, and
6)    with a certain seriousness of purpose, embodying or validating the beliefs, customs, ideals, or  life-values of the people (Manuel 1963:3)

To date, more than 20 folk epic texts have been collected, transcribed, translated, and published, many more still have to be transcribed, translated, and edited for publication.

According to the literary critic Damiana L. Eugenio, a Philippine folk epic has 11 functions. These functions form the sequence of the narrative:

1)      The hero leaves home.
2)      The hero acquires the use of a magical agent.
3)      The hero is transferred, delivered, or led to the whereabouts of a lost object and person, who is a loved one. 
4)      The hero starts a battle.
5)      The hero fights for a long time.
6)      The god/goddess comes and stops the fight.
7)      The god/goddess reveals that the hero and his enemy are related by blood.
8)      The hero dies.
9)      The hero resurrects.
10)    The hero returns home.
11)    The hero is married.

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