Friday, September 2, 2011

Mara Unduk: When life imitates art

Baylana in trance, men carry Marindik

Myths and legends are told, retold and re-interpreted. Events, characters and symbols intrinsic to such mythical stories are said to contain certain truths, sparks from the subconscious, some call it, that find manifestation somewhere in time.

This 1992 material was presented by the Teatro Balangaw group as a dance-drama from Marinduque villages to audiences at Nayong Pilipino and Fort Santiago. It appears to be coming in full circle now, as the episodes and characters in the story have all rendezvoused with their own destinies somehow. Others just refer to this seeming phenomenon now and then as simply life imitating art.

Above photo: Men carrying Marinduque's incumbent leader. A real life deconstruction?

Baylana and Alon
The Legend of "Mara Unduk"

by Eli J. Obligacion

In the days of Bathala, when two moons still sailed the sky the earth was inhabited by highly-gifted spirit-people who lived in harmony with all existence. Such immense powers they possessed, for they controlled the four elements of Fire, Air, Water and Earth.

Over time, however, they became too proud to the point that "Mayana", the Goddess of the Lower Moon, was angered, smashing her lunar abode onto the Earth. This was known as the First Upheaval - that which caused an island to spring from the bottom of the sea. The few survivors named it "Mara Unduk", sea mountain.

The Earth was left under the care of the gentle Goddess of the Higher moon, "Buwana". A new order was established under the rule of the sorcerer, "Katalona", who dominated the people's lives. But the survivors who have learned to hunt for food have forgotten who they were or where they came from. They had no notion of their destiny.

Strange dreams haunted the people for a long time and, to understand those dreams, a ritual was held one day. The young maiden, "Baylana" was bathed in incense and flower extracts and was put to sleep. In a trance, she spoke with the voice of the spirit protector, "Marindik"."Alon", a hunter who served as the sorcerer Katalona's apprentice falls in love with Baylana. The relationship ended in a tragedy for the young maiden and for Katalona. For the sorcerer Katalona, Alon's mission to chart his people's destiny was loftier and more important than Alon's love for Baylana.

Marcopper mine spill, one of the worst

environmental disasters

Such lawlessness and disorder descended upon the village that the people lost ther sense of hope and direction. Marindik was displeased that she caused her dwelling on the mountaintop to emit burning rocks, and heaven to weep.

The villages were submerged in mud and sand, bringing havoc and destruction once again.In the midst of it all, Alon finds union with his primeval past, experiences unity with the elemental spirits and with all existence.

The enlightened Alon thus becomes whole again - the new TAO - the one to lead his people to their rightful and glorious place under the sun.