Local deities reimagined and given a bit of a Millennial makeover
One of two things may spring to mind when it comes to talks about Philippine mythology: brief discussions in elementary school by way of kid-friendly textbooks or late ‘80s and early ‘90s creature feature films like Tiyanak, Don Escodero’s Impakto and Aswang starring Alma Moreno. On the former, it’s the stuff that doesn’t often make it out of the confines of the classroom. As for the latter, it’s the stuff of childhood nightmares we’re more than happy to leave behind.
Later in our education, we are met with more critical required readings: books that cover a bulk of the syllabus. Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes by Edith Hamilton is one of the most popular of these compulsory reads comprised of lengthy accounts and legendary tales of mighty Greek gods and goddesses. Now, from manuscript to movie screen: there are plenty of blockbuster films to look to that tie together the entire immersion into Greek mythology. Troy, Hercules and Clash of the Titans told stories may not reflect our particular origin story or ancestry, but still, we feel: for the characters, their fate, their trials, and triumphs.
In retrospect, it’s a true shame that the rich tapestry of our own history—diverse Philippine folk literature, the many magnificent beings in Ancient Philippine mythology—don’t get to experience the limelight this way. The closest thing we have to a decent tribute today is Lav Diaz’s 2016 historical fantasy drama Hele sa Hiwagang Hapis. Then there’s ABS-CBN’s Bagani. Ah, but, where do we even begin with that one?
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As Lav Diaz’s work makes clear, you can leave it to an artist to spark a newfound appreciation for tales as old as time—unabashed, uncompromising, free of narratives as outrageous as Fil-Am starlets in brownface. But this doesn’t mean a dash of contemporary flair is out of the question. It’s something 25-year-old graphic artist Giancarlo Clarete knows full well as he takes three well-known Filipino deities and clads them—and rightfully—in proudly Pinoy streetwear labels.
Bathala in Proudrace
The mightiest deity of the ancient Tagalogs and ruler of all
PROUDRACE Four Arms Sweater, P4,090
PROUDRACE “Tommy” Lounge Set, P5,490
PROUDRACE Deconstructed Kappa Hoodie, P2,790
PROUDRACE Four Arms Sweater in Lurex, P4,590
The creator of all things—and of one proud race—Bathala reigned supreme in an eternal space called kawalhatian (the sky). Through him, all things could be created, sustained, nourished, protected or destroyed. As steadfast as he was merciful, Bathala laid the law of the land and swiftly carried out justice when man turned to sin.
Diyan Masalanta in Carl Jan Cruz
The goddess of love, conception and childbirth, the protector of lovers and stopper of storms
CARL JAN CRUZ Connelly Boxed Jacket, $762, and Irlo Canvas Evening Trouser, $589
CARL JAN CRUZ Ephraim Crop Top, $390, and Ligaya Patched Skirt, $410
CARL JAN CRUZ Dalisay Organza Daster, $1,949, Oversized Cruz Cuffed Jeans, $660
CARL JAN CRUZ Dakila Shirt in Ivory Voile $411, and Liya Carpenter Jeans, $287
The daughter of Anagolay (goddess of lost things) and Dumakulem (the Tagalogs’ guardian of the mountains), the beautiful Diyan Masalanta, a vision in white, was understood to be an early incarnation of Maria Makiling. The latter would turn out to be “a hispanized evolution of an alternate name for the Diwata.”
Lakapati in SupportYourFriends
The transgender goddess of fertility and agriculture
SYF Emily Summer Polo, P1,500
SYF Deconstructed Rugby Top, P1,700
SYF Logo Black Pullover, P2,000
Before the Philippines was colonized by Spain, one of the deities often called upon by the Ancient Tagalogs for help was Lakapati, the kindest of all deities who blessed mankind with the gift of agriculture and was known as the protector of crops and farm animals. As several ethnic groups in pre-Hispanic Philippine society believed that there existed more than two genders, Lakapati was not only acknowledged but embraced as a transgender divine being.
Art Alexandra Lara.
Illustrations Giancarlo Clarete.