REWIND: LITERARY: Let us Make Bukidnon a Literary Haven

By T.S. Sungkit Jr. MALITBOG, Bukidnon (BukidnonNews.Net/11 December) A long time ago, the River Valley of Tagolwan, now known as Bukidnon, is a land flowing with the milk and honey of epics, nanangen (indigenous short stories), antoka (riddles), limbay (chants), salla (ballads), dasang (singsong-poetic speech), panangensangen (poetry) and other forms of indigenous oral literature.

I could only listen with awe and admiration when our elders would relate the stories of those times. Not only were their stories creative but full of lessons which we could use in our daily lives.

But that was a long time ago. Today, it is with great sadness that we bear witness to fact that the stories of our ancestors had been relegated to our atrophied tribal memory.

Ah, words are not enough to describe the profound sadness of my soul over this matter. It is perhaps the reason why I would find myself writing one day. Yes, it is through writing the things that were, the things that are, and the things that shall come to pass, that we can redeem ourselves from the sadness of our souls.

Perhaps this is the reason why the gods gave us literature. They taught us that it is through the stories we tell ourselves that we can redeem our souls from the fundamental emptiness that govern our existence since the day we are born.

Yes, it is through literature that we shall articulate our redemption. And I think this has been sufficiently demonstrated to us by the ancients.

The Hindus bequeathed humanity with the profound teachings of their vedas and sutras. Even their epics, like Mahabharata, articulated and answered humanity’s fundamental question about existence.

The Sumerians on the other hand, gave us the Epic of Gilgamesh which shows man’s struggles, victories, failures and his long time quest for immortality.

For their part, the seeds of Abram from Ur of the Chaldees wrote the books that would later be compiled into the Bible.

We know of course that it is now considered holy by those who believe in its wisdom. And lest we forget to mention, the Higaonons, Manobos and Subanens who bequeathed us the wisdom of Agyu, Walu, Tuwaang and Sandayo.

Yes, we can redeem ourselves through literature. And it is a fact that we cannot survive without our stories. We need stories like we need air, water and food. We need poetry to maintain our sanity in the maddening turmoil of this world. We need literature to see us through in this stage of our earthly existence.

And so, with great hope and optimism, I would like to announce formally the birth of the literary section of Bukidnon News. With this, we are inviting writers from Bukidnon to contribute their poems, short stories, essays, and other literary pieces. We accept contributions in Higaonon, Binukid, Cebuano/Binisaya, English, Filipino and any Philippine language. Contributions written in languages not specifically mentioned should have at least a Cebuano/Binisaya translation, or if possible, an English translation.

Together, let us make Bukidnon a literary haven once more. I’ll start the ball rolling with a balak. Please read on (See separate post: Pamalandong).

(T.S. Sungkit Jr, is a novelist from the Higaonon tribe. He writes and farms at the same time. He will edit this section as well as “Mga Ahong Ta Tagolwan,” which we launched last month. Send your contributions to In the subject line, write: literary section.)

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