Vargas Museum Educational Guide
Bulaklak ng Dila
Page 2 of 3
Filipino Folk Literature
Before the arrival of the Spanish colonizers, early Filipinos expressed aspects of their culture through literature.Literary expressions reflected people’s perception about their identity, their relationship with physical and divinebeings, their sentiments and attitudes towards other human beings and their surroundings. These expressionsassumed an oral form, and were passed on as myths, legends, proverbs, poetry, and folk tales. As an integral part ofthe socio-cultural and religious life of the community, the philosophy of a people can be gleaned in these literaryexpressions.According to F. Landa Jocano, the function of mythologies is to serve as a vehicle by which people can represent“fundamental concepts of life and systematically express the sentiments which they attach to these concepts”. Itimparts ethical principles; in many ways it is also where moral values take root.A myth is a kind of folk tale or
that explains the origin of the universe and natural phenomena.Myths foreground heroes and supernatural beings. Although the names differ in various indigenous groups, there arecommon threads that weave these narratives together.Legends or
impart lessons in life and shed light on the origin of things. Idiomatic expressions or
onthe other hand, find its way even in recent, everyday conversations. These play-on-words are metaphors that enrichthe Filipino vernacular; these are shared cultural expressions that transcend both time and locale.
Aspects of Philippine Folk Art
Bulaklak ng Dila,
Tapaya utilized a variety of media to interpret selected folk literature. To echo the idea of folk,he adorned his figures that speak of traditional artmaking. Specifically, works installed at the second floor landingsuch as
Nagmumurang Kamatis, Balat Kalabaw,
are paintings framed in silver-coated tin sheetsotherwise known as the
These refer to furniture ornamented with silver or in such case, frames for paintingsembellished with floral or curvilinear patterns. This could be traced to late 19
century traditions of silversmithing,and can still be seen today in church altars or platforms of
. For the paintings on exhibit, the frames weredesigned by the artist and executed by craftspeople from Pampanga.
Isang Kahig, Isang Tuka
is a floor piece depicting an army of sixty with chickens for heads and anthropomorphicfigures as base. The base is reminiscent of the body of the santos, or saintly figures revered in the Roman Catholictradition. Its craft recalls the wood carving tradition in Pakil, Laguna, or in Betis, Pampanga. These juxtapositionsin media give a sense of convergence between folk traditions and religious prescriptions. Similarly, collaborativeprocesses involved in the production of the pieces make us reflect on notions of art and craft.
Guide Questions and Activities
Which of the mythical characters or creatures below are you familiar with?
What are your notions of myths, legends, and folktales? In this day and age, do you think it is still importantto learn and reflect about them? Why or why not?