A Quick Look at Philippine Mythology

Philippine Mythology: Different Stories

Philippine mythology is a messy, multifarious creature. Before the Philippines became a colony under the Spanish crown during the 16th Century, it was a scattering of islands inhabited by disparate tribes that mostly didn't have much to do with each other. Sure, there was the occasional inter-island war, and there was definitely a lot of trade going on, especially with China, but one couldn't really properly say that the archipelago that is now known as the Philippines was, by any stretch of the imagination, a singular entity.

Keep this in mind if you're looking up Philippine pre-Hispanic literature and Philippine mythology.

There are a lot of different Philippine creation myths, from all parts of the archipelago. While a lot of the different stories share certain traits, there is no unifying spiritual framework or singular pantheon in the world of Philippine mythology. Philippine mythology isn't like Greek mythology, for example, where Zeus is indisputably the Big Boss Man of the gods. For example, in some Philippine myths, that Big Boss Man is a god named Bathala (Tagalog), in some other myths, that god is known as Laon Laan (Visayan). There are a lot of other gods, and they all have their own stories, although sometimes unearthing them can be a bit of a challenge, especially since scholarship on Philippine mythology is still a sparsely-populated field.

For the folklore enthusiast or the undergrad though, there is a comprehensive compilation of Philippine folklore and Philippine myths and legends, compiled by respected academic, Damiana Eugenio. Spanning several volumes, the Philippine Folk Literature series was published by the University of the Philippines Press, and is available outside of the Philippines in major bookselling websites like Amazon.com and Borders.

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