Of all the required readings in school, I loved myths the most. Along with this fondness for myths and legends comes great interest in creatures so different from us – from another time, dimension or even universe!
I remember having borrowed a book on “aswangs” that detailed all the different names by which they are known all over the country. I had read almost half of a book about personal accounts of dealings with “dwendes” when I lost it.
Folklore and Sci-Fi
A tikbalang statue at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, Bataan
As a child, I loved listening to my mother’s cousin when she told tales about such creatures. An aunt would tell us about how helpful her dwarf-friend was especially when she needed a cab. Our street was not the usual exit route cabbies would take, but many of those that came by when she needed them would say something seemed to steer them towards her house. As an adult, I enjoy reading science fiction the most. I am fascinated by the way authors like Frank Herbert are able to conjure civilizations and societies in worlds so different from ours, yet are able to stir in us familiar feelings.
Legends and myths were once a way of explaining the unknown. But beyond the explanations that they provided, they showed the creativity of the people who made them as well. And for those to whom they were told, these were means of coping with realities that may have been difficult to grasp.
My father, though very fond of science fiction, was not into folklore like I was. He would scoff at stories I told him I had heard about aswangs, dwendes and kapres. He said my grandfather got such a kick out of pretending to be a kapre by smoking a cigar near an old mango tree that stood near their yard’s outer wall. That tree was so old, it may have taken three people to embrace its trunk. He said his father would sprinkle sand on the leaves and people would think there was a kapre there. That was why he did not believe such stories.
A sirena statue at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, Bataan
To me, they were not only entertaining, they stirred my imagination and made me aware of the vast potential people’s imagination held to inspire, to stimulate, to provoke and perhaps to push those who dare to use it to discover something new.
By allowing our imagination to flourish, such stories not only allow us to think out of the box, but actually do away with such boxes. This liberates us from known solutions and definitions and allows our creativity to provide answers that we could not have found without imagination.
Then again, myths may be accounts of real events that actually happened in ancient times!