Telling the stories of the Panay Bukidnun


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MANILA (October 2021) — No story truly fades away if there are people to pass it on. This is how the Sugidanun of Panay has lasted for many years, enchanting generations upon generations with its myths where sons of influential chiefs datus woo veiled maidens; a crab disguises as an island; a man’s breath is kept hidden in a golden lion’s heart; and a seven-headed snake prowls and controls the underworld. Such are the fantastic voyages of the men of the epics. However, in understanding the narratives, the Sugidanun reveals to us that the real heroes are the women who are being courted.

The Japan Foundation, Manila and ThriveArt Projects, Iloilo proudly kick off the Golden Realms: Inheriting the Panay Sugidanun webinar series, which is also leading up to a manga adaptation of sections of the Sugidanun by Iloilo komiks artists slated for December 2021, in both English and Japanese languages. These projects aim to honor and celebrate the Panay Sugidanun in the present, and celebrate the resonances in oral literature between Japan and the Philippines. Golden Realms is under The Japan Foundation’s Asian Literature Project, Yomu, which bridges connections between literary traditions around Asia, and explores how literature is read today.

The Sugidanun is considered as bulawunun or like gold, for the chanting of its stories is a medium to exercise the wealth of the Panay Bukidnun’s language, Old Kinaray-a. The hyperbole of “Golden Realms” alludes to the wanting of gold or its abundance, and the major realms in the cosmology of the epic that takes place on multiple earthly planes.

      The past year and the pandemic have presented new challenges for the Panay Bukidnun community, including their oral literary traditions. The chanters of these epics are changing, and transcribing the stories on paper does not capture the complex systems of traditions and beliefs that keep them alive. Like gold, these stories are passed on by elders to their descendants, in an enduring practice of collective memory.

The first installation of the series is “Telling the Stories of the Panay Bukidnon”, which introduces the rich heritage of the Sugidanun and the ways in which these stories can be told in the generations to come. The esteemed resource speakers are Dr. Alicia P. Magos, anthropologist and professor emerita of University of the Philippines Visayas, Iloilo City; and Anna Ramirez, assistant to Dr. Alicia P. Magos in the early 1990s when she and Dr. Magos traveled the mountains of Tapaz, Capiz and Calinog, Iloilo for Dr. Magos’ landmark research about Western Visayas literature. 

All students, cultural workers, academics, and Filipino literature fans are invited to watch the live webinar on October 16, 2021, from 10:00AM to 1:10PM via The Japan Foundation, Manila and ThriveArt Projects’ social media pages. Register for the Zoom room here: 

Throughout October to December 2021, the five webinar sessions held biweekly will discuss different aspects of the Sugidanun, contextualizing not just in the Philippines but in Asia, and also examining the adaptation of mythologies with Filipino and Japanese experts.

[Download Press Release]

[Click to register for Webinar 1: Telling the stories of the Panay Bukidnun]

The Golden Realms: Inheriting the Panay Sugidanun webinar series is dedicated to epic chanter Leopoldo “Tay Polding” Caballero, who passed away during the duration of the research.

The online webinar is open to the public / Admission is free.

Join the LIVE webinar on October 16, 2021 via 

For press inquiries, please contact:

The Japan Foundation, Manila

Kanami Namiki, Ph.D.: | Mariah Reodica:

Stay updated about upcoming webinars via and 


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