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Portrait of the first man, Malakas, and woman, Maganda, who came out from a bamboo pecked by the bird form of the deity of peace, Amihan, in Tagalog mythology
Portrait of the first man, Malakas, and woman, Maganda, who came out from a bamboo pecked by the bird form of the deity of peace, Amihan, in Tagalog mythology
The Maranao people believe that Lake Lanao is a gap that resulted in the transfer of Mantapoli into the center of the world.
The Maranao people believe that Lake Lanao is a gap that resulted in the transfer of Mantapoli into the center of the world.

Philippine mythology is the body of stories and epics originating from, and part of, the indigenous Philippine folk religions, which include various ethnic faiths distinct from one another. Philippine mythology is incorporated from various sources, having similarities with Indonesian and Malay myths, as well as Hindu, Muslim, Shinto, Buddhist, and Christian traditions, such as the notion of heaven (kaluwalhatian, kalangitan, kamurawayan, etc.), hell (kasamaan, sulad, etc.), and the human soul (kaluluwa, kaulolan, makatu, ginokud, etc.). Philippine mythology attempts to explain the nature of the world through the lives and actions of heroes, deities (referred to as anito or diwata in some ethnic groups), and mythological creatures. The majority of these myths were passed on through oral tradition, and preserved through the aid of community spiritual leaders or shamans (babaylan, katalonan, mumbaki, baglan, machanitu, walian, mangubat, bahasa, etc.) and community elders.

The mythologies and indigenous religions of the Philippines have historically been referred to as Anitism, meaning "ancestral religion".[1][2] Other terms used were Anitismo, a Hispano-Filipino translation, and Anitería, a derogatory version used by most members of the Spanish clergy.[3] Today, many ethnic peoples continue to practice and conserve their unique indigenous religions, notably in ancestral domains, although foreign and foreign-inspired religions continue to influence their life-ways through conversions, inter-marriage, and land-buying. A number of scholarly works have been devoted to Anitism and its various aspects, although many of its stories and traditions have yet to be recorded by specialists in the fields of anthropology and folklore.[1][4][5]

Sources

Main article: Philippine folk literature

There are two significant sources of Philippine mythologies, namely, oral literature and written literature.

Oral (folk) literature

Oral literature (also known as folk literature) consists of stories that have been or still are being passed down from one generation to another through oral means such as verbal communication. All sources of Philippine mythologies are originally oral literature. As oral literature is passed on verbally, changes in stories and the addition of stories with the passing of time are natural phenomena and part of the evolving dynamism of Philippine mythology. Despite many attempts to record all oral literature of the Philippines, majority of stories pertaining to Philippine mythologies have yet to be properly documented. These oral traditions were intentionally interfered by the Spanish through the introduction of Christian mythologies in the 16th century. Some examples of such interference are the Biag ni Lam-ang and the Tale of Bernardo Carpio, where the names of certain characters were permanently changed into Spanish ones. Resurgent ripples of interest towards oral literature in the Philippines have sprang since the 21st century due to sudden interests among the masses, notably the youth, coupled by various mediums such as literary works, television, radio, and social media.[6]

Written literature

Literature consists, in part, of oral tradition that has been committed to writing in the form of manuscripts or publications. Juan de Plasencia wrote the Relacion de las Costumbres de Los Tagalos in 1589, documenting the traditions of the Tagalog people at the time. Other accounts during the period are Miguel de Loarca's Relacion de las Yslas Filipinas and Pedro Chirino's Relacion de las Yslas Filipinas (1604). Various books regarding Anitism have been published by numerous universities throughout the country, such as Mindanao State University, University of San Carlos, University of the Philippines, Ateneo Universities, Silliman University, and University of the Cordilleras, as well as respected non-university publishing houses such as Anvil Publishing. The publication of these books range from the 16th century to the 21st century. There are also printed but unpublished sources of Philippine mythologies, notably college and graduate school theses. Specific written literature should not be used as a generalizing asset of a particular story, as stories differ from town to town or village to village, despite the people of a particular area belonging to the same ethnic group. Some examples are the story of Bakunawa and the Seven Moons and the story of The Tambanokano, which have multiple versions depending on the locality, people's ethnicity, origin of story, and cultural progression.[7][4][8][9]

History

Main article: Cultural achievements of pre-colonial Philippines

The Tagalog people's Obando Fertility Rites, before becoming a Catholic festival, was initially an animist ritual dedicated to the intersex deity, Lakapati, who presided over fertility, the goddess of love, Diyan Masalanta, and the supreme god, Bathala.[10]
The Tagalog people's Obando Fertility Rites, before becoming a Catholic festival, was initially an animist ritual dedicated to the intersex deity, Lakapati, who presided over fertility, the goddess of love, Diyan Masalanta, and the supreme god, Bathala.[10]
The Virgin of Antipolo has animist connections. Many of the rituals and prayers connected to the Lady of the Breadfruit (Tipolo) Tree have similarities to the pre-colonial indigenous cult of Maguayen, the Visayan god to whom people made offerings before building a boat or embarking on a voyage. Similarly, the Virgin of Antipolo is also asked for protection and well-being, as well as for the blessing of new cars, the modern mode of transportation.[11]
The Virgin of Antipolo has animist connections. Many of the rituals and prayers connected to the Lady of the Breadfruit (Tipolo) Tree have similarities to the pre-colonial indigenous cult of Maguayen, the Visayan god to whom people made offerings before building a boat or embarking on a voyage. Similarly, the Virgin of Antipolo is also asked for protection and well-being, as well as for the blessing of new cars, the modern mode of transportation.[11]

The indigenous religions of the Philippines developed through a variety of migration phases and trade routes. Scholars theorized that Austronesians arrived through the "Out-of-Taiwan model", where Homo sapiens from mainland Asia crossed Taiwan, and later the Philippines, until furthering to other islands south of the Philippines. The Austronesians are believed to have brought complex animist beliefs with shamanism, ancestor worship, totemism, and tattoo artistry. The beliefs on benevolent and malevolent spirits was also established by their arrival.[12]

By 200 to 300 CE, Hindu mythologies arrived in some areas in the Philippines through trade routes and more waves of ethnic migrations. Hinduism brought in Indianized traditions to the Philippines, including indigenous epics such as Ibalong, Siday, and Hinilawod, folk stories, and a variety of superstitions which gradually established more complex indigenous polytheistic religions. Additionally, the concept of good and bad demons, which is prevalent in Indian societies, became widespread in the archipelago. These demons were viewed as both evil and good, unlike Western demons which are only evil. Unlike other areas in Southeast Asia which were heavily converted to Hinduism, indigenous religions in the Philippines were not replaced by Hinduism, rather, those religions absorbed traditions and beliefs present in Hinduism. Gender-variant deities and shamans also became widespread during this period. Humanoid mythical creatures also developed alongside a variety of evolving belief systems.[13] Around 900 CE, Chinese influence spread in some areas in the Philippines, inputting Sinified belief systems in the process, along with Buddhist mythologies. The most prominent belief that spread during this phase was the belief in ghosts, which is prevalent in Chinese societies.[14]

By 1300 CE, Muslim traders arrived in the southern Philippines, bringing with them Islamic mythologies and its belief systems. Many natives in certain areas in the southern and western Philippines were converted into Muslims easily as much of the people had societies that had high acceptance towards foreign traditions.[15] In the middle of the 16th century, the Spanish arrived and brought with them Christian mythologies and its accompanying belief systems. Some of the inhabitants were receptive to these myths, but most of which were against it as the Spanish wanted to conquer the lands and override their leaders, instead of simple tradition exchanges. When the Spanish laid its foundations in the archipelago, a three-century purge against indigenous religions began, which resulted in much of the ethnic people's indigenous cultures and traditions being brutalized and mocked. The phase also replaced much of the polytheistic beliefs of the people into monotheism. Existing myths and folklores were retrofitted to the tastes of the Spanish, but many indigenous belief systems were hard to replace, and thus, were retained despite Spanish threats and killings.[16][17] During the Philippine revolution, there were attempts to revitalize the indigenous Philippine folk religions and make them the newly established state's national religion. However, the proposals were sideline due to conflicts with the Americans, which led to war.[18] In the late 19th century, the Americans colonized the country and bolstered Westernization which included the conversion of more people into Christianity.[19]

Regional Philippine mythology

Due to intensive cultural exchanges spanning for millenniums, many of the mythologies from a variety of ethnic groups in the Philippines have similarities, in one way or another. A few examples of which are: (1) the creation myths of the Bicolano people[20] and the Visayan peoples, whose deities' names are different but the activities recorded in their creation myths are extremely similar;[21] (2) the presence of deities named Mayari[22]/Malayari[23]/Apûng Malyari,[24] which is prevalent in Tagalog,[22] Kapampangan,[24] and Sambal mythologies;[23] (3) the presence of moon deities, named Bulan in Hiligaynon, Karay-a, Cebuano[25] and Bicolano mythologies,[20] and serpent deities named Bakunawa in Hiligaynon, Karay-a, Cebuano, and Bicolano mythologies (4) the presence of moon-swallowing monsters named Tambanokano in Mandaya and Manobo mythologies, where the Mandaya Tambanokano is depicted as a crab, while the Manobo Tambanokano is depicted as a tarantula or scorpion, depending on the ethnic sub-group;[citation needed] (5) the presence of foe-deities named Gugurang and Asuang in Bicolano mythology[26] and Agurang and Aswang in Hiligaynon mythology.[26] and (6) the presence of deities named Kabunian in the mythologies of the Ibaloi people,[27] the Bontoc people,[28] and the Ifugao people.[29]

Despite being ethnic counterparts, the deities, heroes, and creatures are completely different from each other, and their stories must be respected as they are and not mixed into a single narrative. It should also be noted that each ethnic story has a variety of versions. In many cases, stories vary between town to town or village to village despite the peoples in the specified areas belonging to the same ethnic group.[30][31][32][33]

A Bontoc shaman performing a sacred wake ritual with a death chair.
A Bontoc shaman performing a sacred wake ritual with a death chair.

The Philippines is made up of more than 7,000 islands, but they are divided into three main island regions.[34] These regions are: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao (which is subdivided here into North and South). There have been attempts to refer each region to specific pre-colonial mythologies, however, the difference in mythologies and belief systems is not by region, but by ethnic groups, where some ethnic groups have influence in only a few towns, while others have inter-regional influences spanning various provinces. Buddhism and Hinduism in the Philippines is influential to the culture and myths of the people within the three major island regions. There is no unified mythology among the three regions, due to a wide array of diverse cultures that continue to flourish distinctly in the islands.[35] These myths were orally passed down,[36] which means that even myths within the same region will have some degree of change.

Luzon

Pre-colonial Luzon were split among Hindu-Buddhist, Muslim principalities, and animist.

Visayas

Pre-colonial Visayas were influenced by Hindu-Buddhist and Animism. The Spaniards even described some of the indigenous people who lived there as Pintados, which means that they had tattoos/paintings on them.

Mindanao

Pre-colonial Mindanao (around 900AD) were influenced by Hindu-Buddhist, Indonesian, and Malaysian beliefs and culture. Then around the 14th century, Islam in most northern islands of Mindanao were well established.

Cosmogony or creation myths

Angalo, a creation giant, is said to be the first man and the son of the god of building in Ilokano mythology.[50]
Angalo, a creation giant, is said to be the first man and the son of the god of building in Ilokano mythology.[50]
Lingling-o are jewelries that are believed to aid in fertility, and also represent a person's social standing through the material used as medium
Lingling-o are jewelries that are believed to aid in fertility, and also represent a person's social standing through the material used as medium

Cosmogony or creation myths usually tell how the world was created, and most of the time, also includes how mankind came into existence. Each ethnic group in the Philippines has their own creation myth, making the myths on creation in the Philippines extremely diverse. In some cases, a single ethnic group has multiple versions of their creation myth, depending on locality and sub-culture from a larger 'mother' culture. A few of the many cosmogonies known to specific ethnic groups in the Philippines are as follow:

Concept of realms

Like most mythologies (or religions) in the world, the concept of realms focuses greatly on heaven, earth, and hell. These worldwide concepts are also present in the many mythologies of the Philippines, although there are stark differences between ethnic groups, with ethnic-endemic additions, subtractions, and complexities in the beliefs of ethnic realms. Additionally, unlike the general Western concept of heaven and hell, in the Philippine concept, heaven may be located in the underworld, while hell may be located in the skyworld, depending on the associated ethnic group. These differences are notably caused by both cultural diffusion (where portions of cultures are introduced through various activities such as trade) and cultural parallelism (where portions of cultures develop independently without foreign influences). These diffusions and parallelisms are also present in the many story motifs of Philippine mythologies. Some examples of the concept of realms in the many ethnic groups in the Philippines are as follow:[70]

Each ethnic group in the Philippines, which number more than a hundred, has their own indigenous concept of realms. The diversity of ethnic groups in the country contributes to the unique diversity of realms believed to be found endemically in specific ethnic domains and mythologies.[70]

Deities

For a list of major and minor deities of Philippine mythology, see Deities of Philippine Mythology

A symbol of Bathala, supreme god of the Tagalog people. The symbol also depicts a loyal anito at the bottom area and a tigmamanukan bird, which is sometimes wrongfully portrayed as a sarimanok.
A symbol of Bathala, supreme god of the Tagalog people. The symbol also depicts a loyal anito at the bottom area and a tigmamanukan bird, which is sometimes wrongfully portrayed as a sarimanok.
Mayon volcano, within the Albay UNESCO biosphere reserve, is believed to have sprouted from the burial ground of lovers Magayon and Pangaronon. Later, the supreme god of the Bicolano people, Gugurang, chose Mayon as his abode and repository for the sacred fire of Ibalon.
Mayon volcano, within the Albay UNESCO biosphere reserve, is believed to have sprouted from the burial ground of lovers Magayon and Pangaronon. Later, the supreme god of the Bicolano people, Gugurang, chose Mayon as his abode and repository for the sacred fire of Ibalon.
The deity Namtogan, who has paraplegia, is said to have taught the Ifugao how to craft Bulul statues, which would serve as avatars of rice deities. The statues are bathed in animal blood and sometimes given rice wine in rituals performed by a mumbaki (Ifugao shaman).
The deity Namtogan, who has paraplegia, is said to have taught the Ifugao how to craft Bulul statues, which would serve as avatars of rice deities. The statues are bathed in animal blood and sometimes given rice wine in rituals performed by a mumbaki (Ifugao shaman).

Each ethnic group in the country has their own distinct pantheon of deities and belief systems. Some ethnic groups have a supreme deity, while others revere ancestor spirits and/or the spirits of the natural world. The usage of the term "diwata" is mostly found in the central and southern Philippines while the usage of "anito" is found in the northern Philippines. There is also a 'buffer zone' area where both terms are used interchangeably. The etymology of diwata may have been derived from the Sanskrit word, devata, meaning "deity", while anito's etymology may have been derived from the proto-Malayo-Polynesian word qanitu and the proto-Austronesian qanicu, both meaning "ancestral spirits". Both diwata and anito, which are gender-neutral terms, can be translated into deities, ancestral spirits, and/or guardians, depending on the associated ethnic group. The concept of both diwata and anito are similar to the concept of the Japanese kami. However, during the colonization era between the 16th century to the 19th century, the Spanish intentionally modified the meaning of both diwata and anito as both terms were not in line with the monotheistic concept of Christianity.[citation needed] This modification was supported by the Americans in the early 20th century.[citation needed] The meaning of diwata was transformed into "fairy or enchantress", while the meaning of anito was transformed into "ancestors and spirits", although in areas not subjugated by Spain, the original meanings of the two terms were not changed. Each of the supreme deities per ethnic people is completely distinct, even if some of their names are the same or almost the same.[79][80][81][82]

The Sambal and Dumagat peoples believe that the foul odor of takang demonyo or kalumpang (Sterculia foetida) attracts two horse-like races, namely the tulung, monstrous tikbalang-like beings, and the binangunan, fire horses.[83]
The Sambal and Dumagat peoples believe that the foul odor of takang demonyo or kalumpang (Sterculia foetida) attracts two horse-like races, namely the tulung, monstrous tikbalang-like beings, and the binangunan, fire horses.[83]
A kolago/kagwang, Cynocephalus volans. The Waray and Bisaya peoples believe that when such a creature cries loudly during dawn, there will be no rain for the whole day.[83]
A kolago/kagwang, Cynocephalus volans. The Waray and Bisaya peoples believe that when such a creature cries loudly during dawn, there will be no rain for the whole day.[83]

Heroes in Philippine mythology

Main article: Philippine epic poetry

Manang, wooden idols of household deities of the Mandaya people.
Manang, wooden idols of household deities of the Mandaya people.

Each ethnic group in the Philippines has its own set of stories depicting their mythical heroes, notably through oral traditions such as epics and verbal poems. Many of these stories have now been published in scholarly works and books by various folkloristic and anthropological scholars and researchers throughout the country. Due to Spanish and American colonisation, some of the stories have been retrofitted with minor changes, notably in the heroes' names. For the native people, many of these heroes are referred as actual humans who lived centuries ago (others, a few hundred years ago[84][85]) and not "mythical" beings, the same way Christians and Muslims believe that their prophets/saints were 'actual' people from the past. Among these heroes are as follow:

Other human figures in Philippine mythology

Aside from the deities and heroes, numerous human figures, either full humans or demigods which may be mortals or immortals, in Anitism have been attributed as causers or helpers of various events in epics and poems, and their actions supplement some explanations on why things have become to what they are today. A few of these figures are:

Other monster figures and familiars in Philippine mythology

The rotation of Bakunawa in a calendar year, as explained in Mansueto Porras' Signosan (1919)
The rotation of Bakunawa in a calendar year, as explained in Mansueto Porras' Signosan (1919)
Summit caldera of Mount Pinatubo (1991). In Sambal beliefs, the volcano is said to erupt whenever the flaming "sea turle", Bacobaco, comes out of the crater. The volcano is notable as the home of the Kapampangan god, Apûng Malyari, and the Sambal supreme deity, Malayari.
Summit caldera of Mount Pinatubo (1991). In Sambal beliefs, the volcano is said to erupt whenever the flaming "sea turle", Bacobaco, comes out of the crater. The volcano is notable as the home of the Kapampangan god, Apûng Malyari, and the Sambal supreme deity, Malayari.
Mount Matutum is known for the many monsters that used it as a lair, such as Tarabusar,[122] Omaka-an, and Maka-ogis.[123]
Mount Matutum is known for the many monsters that used it as a lair, such as Tarabusar,[122] Omaka-an, and Maka-ogis.[123]
A Visayan tenegre horn hilt, depicting the sea serpent deity, Bakunawa. Outside the Visayas and Bicol regions, horn hilt depictions often change into other designs as Bakunawa only exists in Visayan and Bicolano mythologies.
A Visayan tenegre horn hilt, depicting the sea serpent deity, Bakunawa. Outside the Visayas and Bicol regions, horn hilt depictions often change into other designs as Bakunawa only exists in Visayan and Bicolano mythologies.

There are also specific figures in Anitism which are not humans. Many of which are monsters from epics and poems, while others are deities, demigods, or humans that turned into non-human forms due to a variety of causes or are originally non-human in form. There are also beings that are essentially non-human messengers, divine familiars, or folkloric animal humanoids. A few of these figures are:

Mythological races

Main articles: Philippine mythical creatures and List of Philippine mythical creatures

The upper part of a manananggal, hunting for food. The monster can be killed by putting salt or garlic on the wound of its lower portion left on the ground. This way, the upper part will fail to re-connect with its lower section, thus killing it once daylight comes.
The upper part of a manananggal, hunting for food. The monster can be killed by putting salt or garlic on the wound of its lower portion left on the ground. This way, the upper part will fail to re-connect with its lower section, thus killing it once daylight comes.
A unique sculpture of a buraq crafted by Mindanao Muslims. The belief on buraqs was inputted by Arab traders and missionaries
A unique sculpture of a buraq crafted by Mindanao Muslims. The belief on buraqs was inputted by Arab traders and missionaries
Hanging coffins is a traditional practice in Sagada. The northern Kankanaey people believe that by doing so, the spirits will be closer to heaven while joining the community as protectors of the villages.
Hanging coffins is a traditional practice in Sagada. The northern Kankanaey people believe that by doing so, the spirits will be closer to heaven while joining the community as protectors of the villages.
The Hinatuan Enchanted River is believed to be protected by supernatural beings. The local Surigaonon people believe that certain fishes in the river cannot be caught due to enchanted protection.
The Hinatuan Enchanted River is believed to be protected by supernatural beings. The local Surigaonon people believe that certain fishes in the river cannot be caught due to enchanted protection.
The critically endangered Philippine eagle is highly regarded by numerous ethnic groups in the Philippines as sacred. In Bagobo Tagabawa mythology, a hero chieftain named Banog, who founded four domains, was said to have been named after the local name for the raptor.
The critically endangered Philippine eagle is highly regarded by numerous ethnic groups in the Philippines as sacred. In Bagobo Tagabawa mythology, a hero chieftain named Banog, who founded four domains, was said to have been named after the local name for the raptor.
Mount Banahaw is a sacred mountain home for good enchanted beings, while the smaller Mount San Cristobal, located beside it, is said to be the home of dangerous beings.
Mount Banahaw is a sacred mountain home for good enchanted beings, while the smaller Mount San Cristobal, located beside it, is said to be the home of dangerous beings.

Among the mythical creatures of Philippine es mythology are as follow:

Mythological items

All ethnic groups in the Philippines have a variety of known mythical objects present in their oral literature, notably in their epics and stories concerning the deities, heroes, and mythical creatures. Some examples of these mythological items are as follow:

Status, recognition, protection, and promotion

Aklanon participants at the vibrant Ati-Atihan festival, which honors the Ati people and the Aklanon since around 1200 AD. Spanish colonization used Catholic figures to replace the festival's original roster of honorees.
Aklanon participants at the vibrant Ati-Atihan festival, which honors the Ati people and the Aklanon since around 1200 AD. Spanish colonization used Catholic figures to replace the festival's original roster of honorees.
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Main article: Cultural achievements of pre-colonial Philippines

At least two oral literature in the Philippines, the Hudhud and the Darangen, and one indigenous game, Punnuk, have been inscribed in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.[156] Additionally, four Philippine paleographs (still used by the Hanunoo Mangyan, Buhid Mangyan, Tagbanwa, and Palaw'an peoples), with the inclusion of Ambahan poetry, have been inscribed in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register, under a single entry.[157] The José Maceda Collection inscribed in the Memory of the World Register also contains an array of traditional music from the Philippines containing stories from ethnic mythologies.[158]

In 2014, the international astronomical monitoring agency MPC named asteroid 1982 XB as 3757 Anagolay, after the Tagalog goddess of lost things, Anagolay.[159]

In accordance to the National Cultural Heritage Act, as enacted in 2010, the Philippine Registry of Cultural Property (PReCUP) was established as the national registry of the Philippine Government used to consolidate in one record all cultural property that are deemed important to the cultural heritage, tangible and intangible, of the Philippines. The registry safeguards a variety of Philippine heritage elements, including oral literature, music, dances, ethnographic materials, and sacred grounds, among many others.[160] The National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Law, as enacted in 1992 and expanded in 2018, also protects certain Anitist sacred grounds in the country.[161]

Philippine mythology is seldom taught in Filipino schools, even after the implementation of the K-12 educational system.[citation needed] Most mythologies currently taught and approved by the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education are composed of Western mythologies, such as Greek, Roman, and Norse.[citation needed] Most entities that promote Philippine mythology for education are artists, scholars, television networks, publishers, and non-profit organizations. Certain stories from Anitism, notably the mythical creatures, have also been promoted globally in international book bazaars, films, art galleries, online games, and educational courses. Both the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) have supported the promotion of Philippine mythology in many occasions, although government funding is still extremely minimal.[162][163][164]

Since 2018, there have been proposals to establish a full-fledged Department of Culture, which would be able to protect and promote Philippine mythologies to a wider audience, while enlarging funding for the programs intended for their promotion and protection.[165][166][additional citation(s) needed]

See also

References

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  28. ^ "The Bontoc Legend of Lumawig – Culture Hero".
  29. ^ a b "IFUGAO DIVINITIES: Philippine Mythology & Beliefs".
  30. ^ a b c d "PHILIPPINE MYTHOLOGY: Similarities and Parallels to World Mythologies".
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  32. ^ "The Egg Motif in Philippine Creation Myths".
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Sources

Media related to Mythology of the Philippines at Wikimedia Commons