Subanon Folk Literature

Topics: Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga Peninsula Pages: 14 (2322 words) Published: March 13, 2010
(The People of the River)

The Subanon, also called the “Subanu,” “Subano,” “Subanen” are the biggest group of lumad or non Muslim indigenous cultural community on the island of Mindanao. The word is derived from word soba or suba, a word common in Sulu, Visayas, and Mindanao, which means “river,” and the suffix “-nun” or “-non” which indicates a locality or place of origin. Thus, “Subanon” means “a person or people of the river”; more specifically, “from up the river,” since they are usually differentiated from the coastal and plain inhabitants of Zamboanga Peninsula. Blumentritt mentioned the “Subanos” in his accounts, referring to them as “a hethean people of malay extraction who occupy the entire peninsula of Sibuguey (West of Mindanao) with the exception of a single strip on the south coast” (Finley 1913: 2). Finley recording his impressions of the Subanon at the beginning of American occupation of southern Philippines in 1990s, cited published records of early Spanish chroniclers, notably the writings of Fr. Francisco Combes in 1667, to argue that the Subanon were the aborigines of western Mindanao. The researcher is residing in Buug, Zamboanga Sibugay. She is a Subanen herself. Thus, her study focuses on the collected riddles from Subanen, some of their ceremonies and rituals such as Binah, Bhalai and Dhaga, and also some of Subanons’ learned magic in making a chicken motionless and getting rid of flying termites which disturb them while eating at night. Please take note that some of the data were not documented because the interviewed Subanons wished to be off-cam during the interview. The researcher would also like to apologize since most of the videos are lost because of the unpredictable event experienced during the transferring of files and the Flash drive went crazy. But rest assured the data are gathered through one on one interview with Timuay Libon Myrna Sumpo- Guilayan and Timuay Labi Dominador Panas-Sumpo of Datu Panas, Buug, Zamboanga Sibugay.

Map of Zamboanga Peninsula that shows the location of Subanons. [pic]

Map of Zamboanga Sibugay that shows the Municipality of Buug.

The researcher would also like to inform the readers that some of the Subanon words cannot be translated into English since the meaning will change. Subanons have terms that they do not know the English equivalent. Consequently, the Timuays suggested just not to translate these terms yet give explanations or illustrations so that it could be understood by non- Subanon speaking people.

The Subanon Riddles
Researcher found out that Subanon are fond of making use of Ghatuk or riddles as past-time activity most especially at night. This fun and intellectual activity is done not just bythe mature Subanons but also by the younger ones. Here are some of the riddles collected from Timuay Libon Myrna “Tingganas” Sumpo-Guilayan.

| | | |“Ghatuk” | | | |“Riddles” | |(“…thok mo…andun hini,” says | | |Boh Libon Myrna before | | |the riddle) | | | |...
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