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Mr. Marco D. Meduranda
BEFORE READING: Have you ever heard of mysterious events which have never been explained satisfactorily? And which have left you with that nagging wonder whether they can ever be unraveled? Find out if the following tale is one of those. The Offering to the Sea Mailin Paterno-Locsin When the village folk look back on the night of the storm, they remember rain and thunder and lightning, and a star with a tail, they say, that fell into the sea. It was an uncommonly dark night, all shadows, so that even the most seasoned fisherman dared not go to sea but beached the boats high on the shore. The lightning flashed suddenly and brightly, lighting up the sky for brief moments and then returning it to shadow. The sea churned, in torment. Early the next morning, nothing remained of the storm but a fine shower that fell from milky skies- The children went out to search along the shore for treasures thrown up by the sea in its moment of turmoil. They found a girl walking on the beach. Her feet were bare and she shivered from the wet. She was long-limbed and graceful, and at first the children were scared to go near. But she walked toward them and they saw that she was gentle, that her eyes were soft and black and deep. She could neither speak nor understand the language, and so could not answer any questions. The villagers gave her food to eat, and as soon as they understood that she intended to live among them, they built her a hut. She is too lovely for us, they shook their heads in wonder, but they also gave her a name Tala, for the guiding star. Tala learned to mend the nets, tighter and finer and stronger than the men. She learned the language, the ways of the village. But still she could not tell them where she came from, or how she had come to be there, the morning after the storm. Slowly, Tala settled into the village. Because the nearest school was far away, she gathered the children, and taught them to count and read and write. She told them alt the stories she knew, and when those were finished she made up new ones. Tala was kind and good to everyone, and in their own way the villagers took care of her. No one knows when, or how, it happened or who the father was. They noticed a soft roundness in her belly that grew and grew, but when they questioned her, Tala only smiled and did not say. They waited for her to tell them she was leaving the village, but she did not, and so they continued to care for her. When the baby was horn, he cried out and made much noise in the still dark starless night. He kicked at the midwife who delivered him from the womb, and anyone else who tried to hold him. He became quiet and still only when his mother held him to her and whispered in his ear. He grew fast and strong, and his mother was patient with him and loved him. He learned to trust, to hold out his arms when he wanted to be carried, even, they say, to smile and laugh. But the villagers no longer accepted unquestioningly, and there were those who whispered stories about her. They watched her closely, not really knowing what they were looking for, but increasingly jealous of her beauty and kindness and patience. For now that she had a son she was even more beautiful, serene, as the sea is on quiet nights, with lights that glow and glint, and the soft eternally rolling gurgling motion of the waves. One night, the moon did not shine. "Even the moon is entitled to a holiday once in a while," everyone said- But the winds moaned and sounded like voices whispering, grumbling. Some of the fishermen stayed home that night. Those that went out came back with empty nets. The next night again the moon did not shine and the succeeding nights were the same. The sea heaved and churned, restless, and clouds covered the sky. The nights were black, heavy oppressive black that hung in the air like an old wet blanket. The fishermen went out every night, each time farther and farther into the wideness of the sea, but still they could catch no fish. The children began to cry from hunger. The women searched along the shore at low tide for shellfish and seaweed to feed the children. The men looked with empty gaze out to the sea. They could not understand what was happening; only that their children were hungry and they could catch no fish. Finally, in desperation, they decided to go to the wise old hermit who lived in the foothills of the mountain. He would be able to tell them what to do. The fishermen selected one among them to seek out the old man and tell him their problem. The rest waited expectantly the next day. Not wanting their wives to know that they had consulted the hermit, they went about their customary tasks, mending the nets and seeing to the boats, sometimes gazing out to sea. "What is it you want of us?" they whispered to the wave with soft familiarity, men accustomed to the demands of a beautiful mistress. He arrived just after nightfall, and he was pale and agitated. They gathered in the nearby cove. darkness all around them, thick darkness and a moon that did not shine. They spoke in low voices. "A life," he began immediately. 'The old hermit tells me that we must give something to the sea, for all that we have taken from her. We need a life, an innocent life, guilty of neither deceit nor falsehood. We must take him to the middle of the sea and leave him." He sucked on his
cigarette and for a moment they saw his eyes, fixed, like glass. All were silent for a moment, and then someone said, slowly, "We cannot kill." Many voices answered, agreeing, discussing, until the man who had spoken with the hermit interrupted — "It is the only way, he says. The old man says that this happened before, when he was a young boy. And this is what they had to do." The men sat in silence, hearing only the churning of the waves. Whose child would it be? They thought of their children, cheeks pale and sunken from lack of food. It has to be lifted, this curse of the sea, but not with my child's life, each one vowed. Who was there to speak for him in this hushed council on the cove? The one without the father, he would be the offering. They laid the plans that night, as Tala sang her little boy to sleep. He held her forefinger tight, and he would not let go. The next day, the hottest sleepiest part of the afternoon, Tala left her son asleep on the mat as she went to fetch water from the well on the opposite end of the village. The men took the child, who, half asleep, held up his arms to be carried. Three rowboats were waiting, two men in each, to carry the baby to the middle of the sea. They paddled swiftly and silently, and when they could no longer see land all around them, two men transferred to the other boats and left the child, their offering to the sea. When Tala found her baby gone she went to all the houses, but the women had not taken him. She asked all the children but they had not seen him. Then she worried and searched all over the village. The other women helped her look for him, but when darkness began to fall, they had to give up their search. Tala continued to walk the shore- She called to the men as they came in, but they shook their heads. She would not allow herself to be brought in the house, or to eat. She stayed out pacing the beach, calling his name, crying, until she had neither voice nor tears left, but a bright fierce anger as she realized what had happened. It must have been then — and here the story becomes confused — that the villagers were woken from their sleep by an orange light and sudden heat. They saw a fire come in from the ocean, and had barely enough time to take their children and scramble out of their huts. They stood aside to watch their homes burning. Tala was nowhere. Then the fire was gone and the huts were ash. Everyone saw it — a star, coming as if from the earth, or the middle of the sea. And a single cry. It may well have been the wind's whistle, but the villagers say that it sounded very much like a baby's wail. Questions for Discussion 1. Where is the setting of the story? What background situation is the reader made to understand in the first four paragraphs of the story? What details did the author describe to accomplish this? Pick out the words used to set the mood and heighten the feeling of mystery. 2. Who are the characters in the story? 3. Why was Tala, a stranger, accepted by the villagers? 4. What customs or practices in close-knit communities are brought out in the story? How are these demonstrated in the villagers' attitude towards Tala? Towards Tala's child? Did this attitude towards them remain unchanged? Why do you think so? 5. What natural phenomenon and the problems related to it did the villagers face? Is this occurrence unusual in fishing villages? 6. What did the men do to seek a solution to this problem? Why didn't they want their wives to know they had consulted the hermit to solve their problem? What solution did the hermit give them? Did they act accordingly? 7. What does the fishermen's action in solving their problem reveal about their character? 8. In your opinion, was their evil deed permissible and justifiable in the name of self-preservation? Why do you say so? 9. What other superstitious practices to solve particular problems do you know? Do you think such practices are beneficial to society? In what way? 10. What feelings were aroused in you as you imagined what the characters were expressing: a) the fishermen going far out to sea with their mission b) Tala, as she found her son missing and later realizing what had actually happened c) the village men during the storm following their evil deed 11. What insights into the human character did you gain from the story? What worthwhile human values as against negative ones did the author point out in this narrative?
NAVOTAS POLYTECHNIC COLLEGE Reading Hand-out in Philippine Literature
FOLKLORE – comprises a rich treasure of ideals, beliefs, and sentiments transmitted from generation to another by word of mouth. It refers to the oral literature preserved among the illiterate masses. FOLK NARRATIVES – consists of myths, legends, and folktales
Myths – prose narratives explaining how the world and people came to be in their form. They are the first tool of man used to define his world, explain his feelings, and make his judgments. Various motifs employed on MYTHS 1. transformation motifs – former human beings are transformed into animals as punishment for human misconduct 2. fate of faithful lovers 3. great deluge or flood 4. adventure
Legends – are prose narrative accounts of an extraordinary happening believe to have actually occurred. It may tell of an encounter with marvelous creatures which the folks still believe in – fairies, ghosts, water spirits, the devil and the like. Folk tales – are prose narratives primarily told for amusement and individual entertainment and instructional value, dealing with events set in indefinite time and place. TYPES 1. 2. Fable or animal tales – Ex. The Monkey and the Turtle Magic Tales – stories of fantasy and wonder.
3. Numskull and trickster tales – Juan Pusong of the Visayas, Pilandok of the Maranao, Juan Tamad; these tales narrate the foolishness of a central character who cheats or play tricks on other people 4. Novelistic tales – human wit and common sense
Religious and Didactic tales – also called miracle tales, they are mainly told to illustrate the rewards of goodness and punishment for evil. Folk Epics – E. Arsenio Manuel, a Filipino anthropologist, describes them as “narratives of sustained length, based on oral tradition, revolving around supernatural events or heroic deeds, in the form of verse which is either chanted or sung and embodying the beliefs, customs, ideals, or life-values of the people. NOTABLE FILIPINO FOLK EPICS 1. Biag ni Lam-ang (Ilokano) 2. Baybayan (Bukidnon) 3. Ibalon and Handiong (Bikol) 4. Ullalim (Kalinga) 5. Hinilawod (Sulod, central Panay) 6. Hudhud and Alim(Ifugao) 7. Bindian and Kabunyian (Ibaloy) 8. Indarapatra and Sulayman (Maguindanao) 9. Parang Sabil (Tausug) 10. Tuwaang (Manuvu) 11. Bantugan (Maranao)
GROUP 1 FILIPINO MYTH CHARACTERS Search the library or the internet about Filipino gods, goddesses and other divinities across different regions or provinces. Identify their names, power, and their role in the world (e.g. Bathala – creator of all mankind – sustainer, keeper, nourisher, and protector of all mankind). Summarize and plot your findings using the chart below. Your presentation should be within 5-10 minutes in length. Divinity Region/Ethnic Group Role in the World Power
Creator of all things
sustainer, keeper, nourisher, and protector of all mankind
GROUP 2 ORIGINAL LEGEND Brainstorm, think, and prepare an original story about the legend of the town of Navotas. Make your story fantastic and didactic by incorporating supernatural elements or beings like fairies, spirits or devils and themes like love, faith, hope, honesty, hard work or integrity. Then, dramatize the story your group has created. Your presentation should be within 5-10 minutes in length.
GROUP 3 AN EPIC SHOW Choose one epic presented in your hand-out and make a puppet show (using sticks, socks or dolls) that will tell about the adventure of the epic hero. Your group’s performance will be evaluated on the following criteria:
A. creativity/resourcefulness of props ---- 40 % B. plot, narration, phasing ----- --------- 30% C. voice talent/sound effects ----------- 30%
Your presentation should be within 5-10 minutes in length.
GROUP 4 A NUMSKULL’S TALE A numskull or trickster tale is a humorous and entertaining story that tells about a character’s foolishness or misadventure. Brainstorm, prepare and execute an original and funny NUMSKULL TALE SKIT. Avoid slapsticks and offensive humor. Your presentation should be within 5-10 minutes in length.
GROUP 5 IT”S A MIRACLE! Brainstorm, prepare and execute through role-playing an original didactic or miracle tale. Make sure that your created script will illustrate the rewards of goodness and punishment of evil. Your presentation should be within 5-10 minutes in length.
GROUP 6 FANTASTIC FABLE!
Brainstorm, prepare and create a fable that will teach youngsters the value of honesty, hard work, persistence and courage. Then, make a big children’s book with full illustrations of your created story. Have one or two of the members to present it to the class through STORY TELLING. Your presentation should be within 5-10 minutes in length.
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