Thursday, March 27, 2008

Legend of the Bastonero of Panay

"There is more truth to legends than to history; history tells only of the past, but legends tell of the past, present, and future........." (anonymous)

"A long time ago ,in the island of Panay, there was once a legendary master bastonero, whose skills surpassed many warriors, was considered the fastest and strongest of all masters that even if you throw a lump of rice grains towards him, while moving his baston in a very fast manner, not even one grain could land on any part of his body....... "

When I was a seminarian (1st postulant) at the Our Lady of Lourdes, Lipa Seminary, 1998, my Professor in Cathechism, Fr. Ceasar Acuin, once told me that myths and legends are exagerations of the truth. One must look at the deeper and important meaning of the story and not at the legend itself. Ancient story tellers would focus more on the moral of the story or the meaning of the symbols related in the story. In the story of the Legendary Bastonero of Panay, it is telling the listener a warning never to fight against a bastonero (arnisadores). There is no known record that any person could actually accomplish these type of incredible feat of physical prowess. Let us look at the symbols, for example, the "lump of rice grains" symbolizes "life." In Panay, rice is a very precious commodity. So why would someone throw a lump of rice grains against the "Master" and not grains of sand?! That means the story is telling to the listener that if you fight against an arnisadores it is tantamount to throwing once life like the lump of rice grains. It is a losing battle, which will only result in death. My teachers in the martial arts would always warn me to be careful with my skills. Never go beyond the moral boundaries. Greater powers must be always be tempered with great wisdom.

Our ancestor knew and believe in the power in myths and legends. For them, they are age-old stories of journeys in search of truth and meaning. It is "the" experience of meaning. It reveals what all humans have in common. We, the modern man, have forgotten this simple truth for we no longer need of them; the stories of myths and legends. Famous author Joseph Campbell, who wrote "The Hero With The Thousands Faces," said, "When the story (legend) is in your mind then you its relevance to something happening in your own life. It gives you perspective on what's happening to you."

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