Thursday, June 2, 2011

Amaya - Ep. 3

We ended with Amaya's birth in the last episode, and Rajah Mangubat on his way to their village.

Mangubat's warriors wonder if Bakunawa was an omen of the child's birth. Well, apart from being a sea serpent heralding the birth of a child with a snake-twin. The men speculate that Bakunawa had to leave Sulad, his realm, to go after the moon. With no one to guard them, some of the umalagad may have escaped Sulad and come to earth as a snake... the child's snake-twin. Was the child not being born at this time? Mangubat says that he wishes it was, so that he could kill it already.

Meanwhile, the gurang tells Dal'lang that the snake means that the umalagad [ancestral spirits] are watching over her child. Thus, it is no ordinary child and Dal'lang should consider it a blessing. She balks at first, wondering why the umalagad should single out a poor slave like her [and I'm sorry, but am I the only one thinking "Behold, the handmaid of the lord"?] but comes to accept it.

Bugna views Bakunawa as a bad omen, heralding that Lamitan once again failed to give him an heir. Awi says it's worse: the midwife kept it a secret from Lamitan, but she would no longer be able to bear any more children. Bugna says that then he is truly forsaken by the gods.

While the brothers are talking, Agang comes to inform Bugna of Amaya's birth. At first Bugna dismisses her, saying he has no need of another daughter, but then Agang says that the child was born with a snake-twin, which gives him pause.

Bugna asks if Agang speaks the truth. She says that she is ready to have her tongue cut out should she have spoken falsely. Awi comments that no child with a snake-twin has been born for many generations, and Bugna thus tells Agang to take them to Dal'lang.

Meanwhile, Bagani is talking to the babaylan's apprentice, who says her name is Bayang. She is now a hayohay, the lowest kind of slave. The boy tells her that when he grows up he will buy her from his father so that she will not be a slave anymore. Awwwww the little hero.

In her small hut, Dal'lang sings a lullabye to Amaya. She has just put the baby to sleep when Agang arrives with the datu and Awi, who see Amaya and the snakeling for themselves. [They had put the snake in a little clay pot with some earth.] Bugna holds the child and asks her name. He says that even though he has not been fortunate enough to father a son, the umalagad have blessed him with this child. He asks the umalagad if Amaya is the one destined to be his heir. [No, Bugna, I think that child's destined for greater things than just giving you an heir.]

At the datu's house, Lamitan undergoes the purification ritual of bathing in the smoke from burning herbs. [Note: This ritual is still practiced in some form in the rural areas, and not just for new mothers. For example, people who arrive in a house from a wake, or mourners who come back from the cemetery after the funeral, either wash their hands in water where herbs have been steeped, or hold them in the steam or smoke from a fire.] Her sister, whose name is Mantal, is holding the baby. Lamitan's older daughter Marikit leaves her bukot [her room is something like a cloister] and comes to see her mother and look at the baby. Mantal asks her sister the baby's name, and Lamitan says bitterly that her name is Binayaan [forsaken], for her birth was a disappointment to her father. Mantal consoles her that perhaps next time she will bear a son.

At Dal'lang's house, Awi says that Amaya can't possibly be the heir, being female. Bugna replies that he himself only became datu because of Lamitan's father, but Amaya herself was chosen by the umalagad. Awi huffs; how could a girl protect them from the raiders, for example?

...and speaking of raiders, here's Mangubat shouting at his rowers to pull, pull with all their might and row faster, for they are near their destination...

Bugna answers his brother that he will teach Amaya to hold a weapon and defend their people. At that moment an agung begins to sound, and the men hurry to see what had happened. They are informed of the approaching ships.

Agang tells Dal'lang that she is fortunate indeed! Not only is her child born free, but her father has reconized her and made her his heir! Dal'lang replies musingly that she doesn't care if Amaya were made the heir or not... what is important to her is that Bugna has accepted his daughter.

On the beach, Bugna and his retinue hurry to meet Mangubat and his warriors. The rajah immediately asks if a child with a snake-twin had been born in this village.

The question itself is innocent, but the rajah sounds strained and anxious, and Bugna asks why he is looking for the child [good for you, Dad!]. Mangubat gets defensive and says that he should just answer the question truthfully, for he is prepared to forget their blood compact should Bugna tell him a falsehood about the girl-child born with a snake-twin. This, of course, pings Bugna's protective daddy instincts, and he strives to answer Mangubat as normally as possible that there has been no such child born in his village-- why should there be?

Mangubat is still suspicious, however, and asks to see the child that Lamitan bore. He is thus conducted to the datu's house, and compliments Lamitan on her beautiful daughter. When he is about to leave, however, he remembers Dal'lang and casually mentions to Bugna that he heard that his slave girl had also been pregnant... has she borne the child yet? Bugna endeavors to remain calm as he answers his overlord that yes, his lover had also borne him a daughter, but she did not have a snake-twin.

Here, an offended Lamitan unwittingly helps to save Amaya by saying disparagingly that of course, she would not have a snake twin. "The umalagad are not so crazy as to bless a slave girl with such a child!" she exclaims indignantly. Mangubat laughs and agrees with her, and leaves.

At Dal'lang's house, she and Agang and the baby are asleep when a bird of prey gets under the eaves of the house and alights by the child. It looks intently at the baby, but before it can do anything, the snake crawls out of the pot and strikes at it. The women wake up, and say that the umalagad is indeed watching over Amaya. Bugna and Awi arrive soon after to take the snake away. When Dal'lang objects, Bugna explains that Amaya must be separated from her snake twin, for Rajah Mangubat is looking for the child. He makes them swear not to reveal the circumstances of Amaya's birth, for it will put the child in danger; it looks like Mangubat does not have good intentions.

Inside the house, Lamitan is throwing a tantrum and having hysterics. I thought that it was either because she found out that she can't have any more children, or she found out that Amaya would be the heir. But no, it's because she found out Amaya had been born anyway, even after all her efforts to make Dal'lang miscarry. Marikit asks if she has a half-sister, and Lamitan says, yes, but she should not concern herself with the daughter of a slave. Mantal asks why she is so upset; she should have been upset if it was a boy. As it is also a girl, it can't inherit anyway. [That's what you think.]

Bugna tenderly carries the snakeling to the forest. He asks its forgiveness for separating it from Amaya, and begs it to understand that if they were together their lives would be in grave danger. He tells the snakeling to live in the forest for now, and to seek out Amaya at the proper time when they have both grown up. [Notably, Bugna treats the snakeling as an umalagad and not as his own child, although technically it is Amaya's twin.]

Agang wonders why Mangubat is looking for Amaya and why he even knew that a girl child would be born with a snake twin. She also asks why Bugna was so cruel as to take the snake away from Amaya. Again, Dal'lang says that it doesn't matter as long as he doesn't take Amaya away from her.

Unfortunately, Bugna is planning to do just that. He tells Awi that he doesn't want to hurt Dal'lang, but he also needs to protect Amaya. He thus goes to see Dal'lang with a retinue of slaves. At first she is happy to see him, but then she sees his somber face, and another slave steps out from behind him to say that she is taking the child. Dal'lang fights to prevent this, but Bugna sends the other slaves to hold her. He tells her that she cannot give Amaya what he can. Thus, he will take the child away and raise her as a binukot to keep her safe. She pleadingly puts her hand on his arm; he grips it tight for a moment, then drops it and leaves with the baby.


First of all, I love the datu's house. It's a large house made entirely of bamboo, and it's gorgeous.

I was seriously getting Biblical vibes from this episode. Handmaid of the Lord and all that, and Herod looking for the child to kill it, fearing that it will supplant him.

We get more justification for the bakunawa: aside from being a portent of Amaya's birth, it also provided a means for the umalagad to come to earth. So are the umalagad trapped in the spirit realm then, under some restraint other than the boundary of their world and ours?

The bird of prey also serves as a good metaphor for Mangubat's presence: he was there, and yet he left without finding the child. However, while I was watching, I got more concerned over the snake than the child, because the snake is way smaller than the child and would be more convenient for the bird to carry away. So I thought it was a little weak logically, in that sense.

We also get the reason for Binayaan's name, and for Amaya becoming the heir, since Bugna won't have any sons anymore [although what's to stop him from taking another wife I don't know]. But it's not Amaya's being Dal'lang's child that makes her the heir; it's the snake, for Bugna believes that although she is a girl, she won't be an ordinary girl and would thus be worthy to rule his people.

Mangubat's arrogance and Lamitan's self-centeredness conspire in this instance to keep Amaya safe. If Mangubat had been a little more subtle, he might have gotten the information from Bugna without the latter suspecting anything. But he had to flaunt that he was lord, and so Bugna wasn't likely to tell him anything. Add to this Lamitan's one-track mind, thinking that there is no one more deserving than herself, and ironically she saves Amaya without knowing it.

Now that Bugna knows what his daughter is, he will do anything to protect her. In this he is also almost as self-centered as his wife, for he is obsessed with having an heir, and the value of his wife and lover becomes connected with the children they bear. He does not mind hurting Dal'lang, who is after all only a slave, but he will do anything for Amaya.

Amaya becoming a binukot makes sense here now. Although I don't think that her father's status automatically makes her a princess, Bugna himself raises her to the position. Why? Because of what a binukot is-- she will be sequestered from the eyes of men until she comes of age. No man not her close relative can lay eyes upon her without being put to death. Thus, she will be protected until she is old enough to take charge.

Two things will also arise as a result of this night's events: Mangubat had threatened Bugna with war if the latter lied to him. And Bugna did lie. I'm sure that at some later time the lie will come back to bite him where he least expects it.

Marikit learned that her father rejected her baby sister, her own mother's child, for being a girl unsuitable to be his heir. Lamitan had also said that Marikit was also a disappointment to him in this regard. The child now also learns that she has a half-sister, born to a slave. If this child of lower status is now brought to their father's house and Marikit is told that she will also be a binukot like them, I don't think the child will just accept the situation calmly. Plus, what happens if, after having rejected the children of his rightful wife, Bugna raises up the daughter of a slave girl over them? He can't tell them the real reason, of course. Even then, I don't think that Lamitan and her daughters would like Amaya any better if they knew the reason, as Lamitan herself had said that a slave would not deserve to be given such a child. The queen's hatred of Amaya is really going to run very, very deep.

Lastly, we got only one glimpse of Bagani here. Again, he shows himself to be different from his father in his conversation with Bayang. I do wish, though, that they would show some justification for this: why is Bagani so unlike his father, despite the way his mother raised him? Is it because he saw his father cut down the old babaylan for her prophecy, or is there another, deeper reason?

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