Hey did you know that if you had blonde hair and green eyes, you were a shoe-in to Filipino mythical world of supernatural creatures? At least that’s how it would've been a few hundred years ago around the time the first European settlers began appearing. I later found out after some further reading that you could give Coke and cigarettes to the “Lampong” ( Iloko), little bearded men who lived underground, in order to appease them. Gives me the creeps! Why? Because I believe it. Obviously, though, some of these mythical creatures reflect a (warranted ) xenophobia among other motivations.
Michaela, and I both had a good laugh with our facilitator Kristina Guison, as she guided us through the essential creatures of the unique supernatural world of the Philippines ( which borders on the romantic if you ask me ) Why were we laughing? I don’t know, you could have your pick between the author’s liberal placement of multiple choice questions or the fact that half the creatures we discussed resembled “Mestizas” , “Mestizos”, the Portugese, the Spaniards and even the Island natives according to their descriptions. Watch out for the pretty fair skinned girl who may seem to appear out of nowhere and join a community high school dance and then disappear . Some of these creatures even carried on long term relationships with their victims and even married them!
Aside from the very telling nature of Filipino folklore as it relates to fears of the European, many Filipinos back home regard the existence of this other world as very real and unquestionable. Personally, my mother has her own stories of dwarves, ( Lampong? Could it be?) ghosts and the Tikbalang ( half stallion and half man, the reverse of what we would know as a Centaur in the west) Kristina said that “ you can tell a lot about a culture by what they fear” and that proved to be very true during our workshop.
The second part of the workshop was spent re -interpreting the folk tales in charcoal drawings. We practiced our anatomy and freaked ourselves out drawing unexpectedly horrifying faces. I think the most enjoyable part for both Michaela and I, was carving out our own designs inspired by a book of traditional Philippine patterns, into linoleum cuts and making block prints. Stay tuned to see our finished products!
I heard from someone that our increased use of fluoride has contributed to our inability to make contact with the supernatural world . If that is the case, maybe we should keep sending back the Colgate to help our relatives back home, sleep more soundly at night eh? Well that is a blog entry for another day.
By the way, if you haven’t heard of Kristina Guison, who is graduate of the previous Clutch program, you should check out her work!