Monday, May 30, 2011

About Amaya

Amaya (Marian Rivera) is the daughter of Datu Bugna [Cebuano, "blessing"] (Raymond Bagatsing) and the slave-maiden Dal'lang (Lani Mercado). As a princess, she is a binukot [lit. "cooped up" or "caged"] who is hidden from the eyes of men and forbidden to set foot on the ground. She was born with a secret -- she has a twin who is a snake [a nod to the urban legend?]. To her people, this is the sign of a great destiny. They believe that she was born to end the reign of the cruel and oppressive Rajah Mangubat [Hiligaynon, "to go to other lands in search of conquest"] (Gardo Versoza), the chief of all the datus.

Amaya's stepmother, her father's wife, is the princess Dian Lamitan (Gina Alajar), who is angry that her husband prefers Amaya over her own children, Marikit [Tagalog, "beautiful"] (Rochelle Pangilinan) and Binayaan [Hiligaynon, "forsaken"] (Glaiza de Castro). She contrives a way to make Amaya a slave.

Two men shall strive for Amaya's heart: the prince Bagani [Visayan, "hero"] (Sid Lucero), son of Rajah Mangubat, and the slave Lumad [Cebuano, "native", a word used to refer to the indigenous non-Muslim people of Mindanao] (Mikael Diaz).

Other characters:

Angaway [Hiligaynon, "warrior"] (Ryan Eigenmann), one of Rajah Mangubat's warriors, cousin to Bagani and son of the chief babaylan [priestess].
Mantal (Irma Adlawan), older sister of Dian Lamitan and her accomplice.
Agang (Ana Capri), Dal'lang's best friend.
Rahu Linangan ["linangan", TAgalog, "a place to craft or hone a skill"] (Ayen Munji-Laurel), Rajah Mangubat's first wife and Bagani's mother.
Awi (Roy Alvarez), older brother of Datu Bugna, who helps him administer his village.
Banuk [from "banog", "hawk"?] (Buboy Villar), Bagani's youngest brother, also training to become a warrior.
Ahak (Sheena Halili), a slave girl who is Amaya's best friend.
Kayang (Roxanne Barcelo), Marikit's slave girl.
Bayang (Ana Feleo), a babaylan-in-training who becomes a slave. She discovers the secret of Amaya's birth.
Songil (Mon Confiado)
Paratawag ("one who frequently calls," "crier"] (AJ Dee)

[Information on the story and cast from the GMA website.]

Comments and first impressions

Laya: Being of Visayan origin myself (Ilongga - Antiquena), I am happy to see the elements of Visayan culture in the story. Especially that Amaya is a binukot [there is a binukot in my own ancestry according to family lore, although my own family legends were more about binukots being the most beautiful girls in the village and sold to the highest bidder!]. I just hope that this plays a big part in the story instead of, you know, so she's a binukot, ho-hum. According to the documentary that inspired this, the binukot also became the teachers of the young and the repositories of their village history.

I also noticed that most of the names have Visayan and Mindanaoan derivation... "bagani" is short for "baganihan" or "hero, "hangaway" (they took out the H) is "warrior", while the word "lumad" is mostly used in Mindanao. Dal'lang, however, the way it is spelled, sounds Cordilleran, and I wonder how a young woman from those mountains got captured and brought all the way down south to the Visayas. Unless it's really a name from the Moro tribes. Also, Marikit is a Tagalog name and Binayaan is Hiligaynon, but then the two languages have a lot in common. I laughed at "ahak" because my only experience with that term is the Cebuano phrase "giahak man ka uy" which is not very complimentary.

The information so far indicates the presence of a council of datus presided over by a rajah; somewhat like the Madiaas Confederacy. It also indicates that birth order doesn't necessarily mean you get to inherit; it appears that Amaya, her stepmom, and her dad are all younger children with older siblings still alive. Also, Amaya gets named the heiress even if she is a girl and not the chief wife's daughter, which indicates that women have more rights. On the other hand, slavery exists-- but then one of the things we learn early on about Philippine history is that people kept slaves and they had a caste system: maginoo, maharlika/timawa, alipin. The alipin were even classified as namamahay and saguiguilid depending on whether they had their own house or lived in their master's house. The boundaries between the other three are kind of blurred; some say the maharlika were just freemen like the timawa, yet the word came to have the same connotation of nobility as the maginoo.

We also get to see the babaylan! In pre-Hispanic times, the babaylan was the intermediary between the spirit world and men, and she was always female. Men had to cross-dress to become a babaylan.

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