Tálâ - Harang for our Anitos and Diwatas
The Filipino in Me - Insights into Living Heritage
Entry by Chef Earl Briones. Edmonton, Alberta
Harang for our Anitos and Diwatas
My submission aims to celebrate our pre colonial beliefs, rituals, and offerings through a cultural lens of someone from the diaspora. The Philippines has had a rich culture before the Spanish colonization absorbed some of our ancient beliefs with theirs. My submission aims to tell some of my favorite folktales from the three main geographic areas of the Philippines. From Luzon, the tale of Tala and how wet rice cultivation was introduced. From Visayas, the legendary moon eater Bakunawa and how we explained lunar eclipses in ancient times. From Mindanao, the legendary bird Sarimanok, and the old tales from the Maranao people.
I also aim to showcase our traditional food in a modernized look according to my interpretation. These submissions are my love letter to the Philippines. Our food, our culture, and who we are and were. A way of telling the past using the medium of our food and presenting it in the present.
Bringhe with Roasted Duck and Rice Syrup
Art through food and plating while telling old folktales of Pre-Colonial Philippines
All things went well with their reign over man on earth till the rains came. The rains did not stop. The eight Rivers of Pinatubu overflowed. Man's possession were washed away and the fowls, game and fish went to seek calmer waters or went deep into the mountains. Man hungered. Man despaired. Finally man called upon Apung Sukû for help.
Apung Sukû then sent his grandson Tala (the planet Venus), son of the red serpent Munag Sumalâ and the bird Manalastas, to be born as a man.
Deep in the forest of Mount Alaya, an old manalaksan (wood cutter) went to the pool of Sapang Tacûi to quench his thirst. There in the middle of the pool, a tucal flower blossomed. In the midst of it was a healthy baby crying. The old manalaksan took pity and took the child to his old wife mangkukuran (potter). There the child began to speak and walk. The couple bowed low to the ground and paid homage to the god child.
Soon the child grew up to become a strong bayani. Riding on his friend Damulag, the guardian against the storm, Tala descended the mountain chewing on sugarcane. On the slopes of the mountain he fell in love with a woman called Mingan. Together they made love. As they did so, Tala took some of his seeds and placed them in Mingan's hand. "Plant them on the flooded ground," he said. Mingan was doubtful at first since nothing grew on the flooded soil save for lumut or algae. Immediately after Mingan planted the sacred seeds, a curious green looking plant sprouted from the ground. These were the first palai, rice plants.
Tala showed her how to cook nasi, from the unhusked seeds of the palai plant. Soon Mingan's tribe was able to conquer all the flooded plains and convert them to fertile rice fields. Tala went back to the sky.
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