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Folktales from a Kalinga Village

Folktales from a Kalinga Village is a collection written and compiled from oral narration that we heard during everyday village life in the 1990s.

 |  2 min read

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Good day Kakailyan! My book number two is now LIVE on Amazon.

Folktales from a Kalinga Village is a collection of 20 stories that have been handed down in the oral tradition over many generations as instruction in proper ways of living in Kalinga society for the youth. With the arrival of TV and the internet, the storytelling style and experience is falling into disuse and these tales were compiled from memory by asking the older folks and by filling in the gaps.

Apart from their use as instruction in Kalinga experience and culture with an emphasis on respect, good manners, mutual self-help and reciprocity, they also served to entertain young and old alike, even though some themes are dark and evoke an ogre, ghosts of the mountains and forests, as well as danger from violence. These themes reflect envy, greed, foolishness, cruelty as the opposite of honour, courage and leadership.

As folktales, they present many topics that might seem out of date but in fact are very much contemporary: commoners marrying above their station (House of Windsor) and getting rich by magical opportunity (lottery). What does tell a story from real historical Kalinga antiquity is Magatangga, which involves headhunting, a matter of tribal identity and prowess in past times. Likewise, tattoos - batok - feature intriguingly as a matter of women's beauty in several stories.

We also see delousing as a customary practice that exemplifies intergenerational reciprocal care and duty. So, too, is gift giving, which evokes the laborious process of preparing food and traveling long distances on foot with it, something that was actual lived experience for most rural IKalinga until very recently.

Language educators will appreciate that some stories use present simple tense while others use various past tense structures. Likewise, the stories preserve and explain Kalinga expressions, phrases, names, and places, which is a service to past and present and keeping both alive into the future. In overview, however, the stories are characterised by warmth, humor, kindness, service, and dignity. They deserve to be seen in the context of storytelling from Indigenous Peoples worldwide as well as in relation to the great European tradition of folktales that gave the world the Disney experience.

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