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Tagalog Kwentong Bayan

Updated on February 19, 2011
Examples of Alibata, an ancient form of writing in the Philippines
Examples of Alibata, an ancient form of writing in the Philippines

What is Tagalog Kwentong Bayan?

Kwentong Bayan is a term for folklore or folktales from the Philippines. Tagalog is the native language, a dialect prominent in Luzon, and so a Tagalog Kwentong Bayan would be folklore that is in the the Tagalog language. These forms of literature were mostly passed on by word of mouth by Filipino ancestors and were only written down by scholars centuries after they were told. The stories usually revolve around the lifestyles and livelihood of the Filipinos during the time of its origin such as relating to farming, tribal community, family, and Filipino mythology.

Filipinos love hearing and telling stories and this is shown in their folklore. Through these stories we can unravel the consciousness of the people of that time. We can see their world and life through their stories. In Philippine Legends, we see them give explanations, through the storytelling, for things that they cannot explain. This would usually contain supernatural aspects and mostly leading to the origin of things.

The Philippines is rich in literature long before the colonists arrived. This shows they were a group of creative and thinking people that had a strong sense of community. These stories would usually be told during gatherings or celebrations and usually it is the elders who would be telling these stories.

These folktales are a significant part of the precolonial culture of the Philippines. Also check out Mga Tulang Pinoy and Lyrics of Philippine Folk Songs.

Mga Halimbawa ng Tagalog Kwentong Bayan

There are many different examples of Tagalog Kwentong Bayan. The most common would be Philippines Legends or Mga Alamat. These stories would show the ancient Filipino's need to have an explanation for things. They would usually attribute different natural phenomena with supernatural or mythological explanations. These stories would also have a moral lesson in the end and were used to instill values into the children of the community. Here are some examples of Alamat:

  • Alamat ng Pinya
  • Alamat ng mga Bituin
  • Alamat ng Ulan
  • Alamat ng Lupa
  • Malakas at Maganda (Mito tunkol sa Pinagmulan ng Tao)

Other examples are the Mito or Philippine Mythology. These tells stories of the many different gods that the ancient Filipinos recognized such as Bathala or the god of all gods. Other parts of their mythology would talk about supernatural intervention of gods in their wars, farming and harvest, natural disasters, travel, and other parts of their life.

An illustration of Lam-ang, a character in Philippine Epics
An illustration of Lam-ang, a character in Philippine Epics

Kwentong Bayan Examples

Other forms of folklore or folktales from the Philippines would be Epics such as Biag ni Lam-ang that tells of one's struggle and adventures. If you read the stories and really analyze it, it would be as if you are looking at the world through the eyes of the people who lived in the time the folktales were being told. It is actually a good thing that scholars were able to preserve these stories as proof that Filipinos were thinking beings long before the Spaniards came. Some Spanish colonists were actually arguing that Filipinos during that time were savages but really they were a different groups of sovereign and independent people that had laws, governments, culture, and literature.

If you have the time, check out some Mga Epikong Tagalog and Kwentong Bayan Examples and you will surely be amazed and entertained by these stories full of magic and adventure.


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