Researchers from the Philippines are searching for the last chanters of an epic tale. Reconstructing the tale may help the researchers understand the local knowledge systems and cultural practices of one of the country’s oldest ethnic groups.

Dr Guieb with the Dumaracol chanters. Image: Jenifer Lie

The island province of Palawan, situated on the southwestern part of the Philippines, is one the largest provinces in the country.

Palawan has a very rich and diverse culture as several ethnic groups live on its islands – each with its own language and dialects, literature, music, dance, drama and visual arts. Each group varies in its religious rituals, celebrations and daily activities.

Palawan’s Tagbanua are among the Philippines’ oldest ethnic groups and are located in the central coastal and northern parts and islands of the province.

The Tagbanua are further divided into four subgroups. Among them, the Kalamianen Tagbanua are located in the northern mainland of Palawan and on the Calamianes group of islands north of the mainland. The Kalamianen Tagbanua, who in recent years have settled in villages, depend mainly on marine and land resources for their livelihood.

The Kalamianen Tagbanua sing the epic tale — or tultul — of a mythical male adventurer called Dumaracol. The narrative is long and it is chanted by men and women at night, during the waxing moon, or as part of ceremonies for the dead. Sadly, the chanting of the Dumaracol is a diminishing practice among the Tagbanua.

The exploratory research of Dr Eulalio R. Guieb III of the College of Mass Communication at the University of the Philippines Diliman sought to locate any remaining chanters of the Dumaracol. Dr Guieb and his team were able to find chanters in several islands of the municipalities of Taytay, El Nido and Linapacan who were willing to participate in the project.

With the help of chanters, the team will record the Dumaracol on digital video and audio and then document, transcribe, translate and investigate this almost unknown and rarely cited epic tale. It is hoped that the reconstruction of the Dumaracol will help uncover some important local knowledge systems and customary practices of the Tagbanua that find expression in the tale.



For further information contact:

Dr Eulalio R. Guieb III
College of Mass Communication
University of the Philippines Diliman