/ 13 February 2021

THE NATIONAL Commission for Culture and the Arts recently published a Filipino translation of the Ulahingan epic using the research of a former professor from the Divinity School of Silliman University.

Written by Dr. Elena Maquiso, “Ulahingan: Epikong-Bayan ng mga Livunganen-Arumanen Manobo,” was based on the six-volume English translation of the Ulahingan chants.

The Ulahingan is an ancient epic of the Livunganen-Arumanen Manobo of North Cotabato, traditionally told through a sacred chant performed by a tala-ulahingan.

Jose Silay, a tala-ulahingan, narrated the Ulahingan for Maquiso’s research.

“The work of Maquiso and her team of Sillimanians on recording, transcribing, transliterating, translating, and editing the Manobo and English text to produce the Ulahingan Series spanned three decades starting in 1963,” the university said.

It added that among those who worked with Maquiso were National Artist for Literature Dr. Edith Tiempo and Rhoda Montes as the English translators; Jose Humabad as recorder and transcriber; and Abraham Sailing as transliterator.

“When Maquiso passed away in 1995, she had already published five volumes of the series. The NCCA was one of those who financially supported Maquiso’s research,” the university said.

Maquiso’s unfinished manuscript on the sixth volume was continued in 2009 by history professor and SU Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Earl Jude Paul Cleope.

Cleope worked with professor Rev. Samaon Bangcas, who served as the Manobo text editor for the sixth volume.

He said that Maquiso was initially interested in the musical aspect of the chants for her research on indigenous hymns before she became interested in the epic.

Cleope wrote that the Ulahingan “deals with the story of creation, the life and exploits of Agyu and his people before reaching Nelendengan, and their subsequent life in a paradise on earth.”

He said the book was published as part of NCCA’s Epikong Bayan project, which aims to publish books on Philippine epics.

“I hope that it can now be incorporated in the Philippine Literature subjects in college and senior high school,” Cleope said.

He expressed hope that the epic would become popular so that the youth would be able to learn more about the folk literature from Mindanao.