How Earth & Man Took Shape
A B'LAAN FOLKTALE
This story hails from the B'laan of southern Mindanao. In the indigenous religion of the B'laan, Melu is the supreme being and is joined by Fiuweigh, Diwata, and Saweigh in the island in the story.
A CULTURAL KEEPSAKE
Download the story or preorder the riso zine to support our indigenous peoples.
In the beginning, there were four beings and they lived on an island no larger than a hat. On this island, there were no trees or grass or any other living thing besides these four people and one bird whose name was Buswit. One day they sent Buswit out across the waters to see what he could find. When he returned he brought some earth, a piece of rattan, and some fruit.
Melu, the greatest of the four, took the soil and shaped it and beat it with a paddle in the same manner in which a woman shapes pots of clay. When he finished, he had made the earth. Then he planted the seeds from the fruit, and they grew until there was much rattan and many trees bearing fruit.
The four beings watched the growth for a long time and were well pleased with the work. But finally Melu said, “Of what use is this earth and all the rattan and fruit if there are no people?” And the others replied, “Let us make some people out of wax.” So they took some wax and worked long, fashioning it into forms. But when they brought them to the fire, the wax melted and they saw that men could not be made in that way.
Next they decided to try to use dirt in making people, and Melu and one of his companions began working on that.
All went well 'til they were ready to make the noses.
The companion, who was working on that, put them on upside down. Melu told him that the people would drown if he left them that way, but he refused to change them.
When his back was turned, however, Melu seized the noses one by one, and turned them as they now are. But he was in such a hurry that he pressed his finger at the root, and it left a mark in the soft clay. Today, you can see this on the faces of the people of Melu, whose noses have remained flat up to this day.
In honor of the indigenous Filipinos, Gunitaan partnered with PAGASA to help support Aeta, Lumad, T'boli, and communities in Buhi, Camarines Sur affected by supertyphoons. In exchange for donations of any amount of your choosing is a digital compilation of the library designed for mobile.
The library is also a risograph art zine in collaboration with Bad Student, for pre-order until Dec. 11, 2020. In light of the typhoon damage they sustained, 10% of the zine proceeds will go towards their recovery. The rest of the zine proceeds will also be donated to the indigenous communities supported by PAGASA.
Gunitaan is a humble library of folktales that tell us who we are, who we have been for centuries, and what inspires us as a culture. Gunitaan seeks to use design to shed light on, honor and preserve the beauty inherent to the many cultures that keep our identity alive.
By the humans of Serious Studio.