Authors: Doris Ogdoc-Gascon
The legends of Cebu need to be preserved through an ethnoliterary critical anthology in order to keep alive its people’s heritage and letters. Cebu is the province located at the middle of the archipelagic Philippines. This is where the oldest city ( Cebu City ) and ( Colon St. ) street in the country are found . Furthermore, Cebu City is declared as the first City of Culture by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and has contributed to the Philippines’ recognition as the ASEAN Culture Capital for 2010 and 2011. The title allows the promotion of the region’s arts and culture to other Southeast Asian nations . This ethnoliterary research anthologizes and analyzes the representative legends of Cebu in order to protect and uphold Cebuanos’ cultural heritage as well as offer understanding on Cebuanos’ collective psyché. Specifically, it focuses on the following: (1) the profile of the Cebuano tellers; (2) the legends of Cebu and their categorization; (3) their archetypal-thematic analysis; (4) the feminism revealed in the legendary characters, and (5) the collective Cebuano psyché reflected in the legends.
The method of research used in this study is ethnoliterary research which involves interviewing the eighty-five (85) key informants who have retold the thirty-one (31) legends from the twenty-two (22) representative regions of Cebu. This study theorizes that the legends of Cebu, through their archetypes and themes, signify the collective Cebuano psyché. This research assumption is supported by the formalistic, mimetic, and feministic literary theories in the analytical approach toward delving into the legends focusing on their archetypal and thematic dimensions.
The results of the quantitative analysis on the profiles of the respondents and the legends as well as the qualitative discourse analysis are these findings: (1) The profile of the oral literary tellers shows women as the cultural storytellers; (2) The legends of Cebu reveal the following: (a) They can be categorized into three: Living Human Beings, Mythical Creatures ( subdivided into: human-looking creatures, animal-looking creatures, and mysterious matter), and Dead Souls; (b) Majority of the legendary characters with identified gender are female (71.43%), which may suggest a gender bias with the negative portrayal of women; and (c) Nature (such as trees and rivers) is the common abode of mythical creatures; (3) The legends’ archetypes signify killer of the unborn, killer of the children, evil force, animal’s involvement in humans, strength of supernatural beings, kindness of supernatural beings, dead’s involvement in humans, vulnerability of women, magic and power in humans, with the themes: the protection of the young, and defenseless, the existence of other forces-good or bad, the inevitability of life after death, and the acquisition of powers by humans; (4) feminism is at play in the construction of the legends, as evidenced in the reported legendary characters’ women-as-witches stereotypes and the women-as-dead victims; and (5) The collective Cebuano psyché reveals the traits of being judgmental, inclined to hearsays, protective of their children, superstitious, believer of the dead and supernatural beings’ presence among the living, fearful, ritualistic, sin conscious, and gender bias.
The new concepts that this study has contributed to the field of regional studies and literary traditions are: the generation of categories of the legends and the idea of feminism’s involvement in the Cebuano psyché as reflected in the legends.
Keywords: legends, Cebuanos, ethnography, Philippine literature, Asian culture, Asian beliefs, Cebuano psyché, Asian Literature, ethnoliterary research, Superstitious, life after death