DARANGEN: EPIC OF THE MARANAWS
The following epic is strange as it is stunning. I could not imagine how my people got hold of such a work of genius. It is the World’s longest epic now that it has been translated into the English language. It takes a number of readers to complete the epic in days of continuous singing monologue. All of the 17 episodes have now been translated although not as good as we wish it to be. The shortcomings of the last translators can be attributed to shortsightedness. They have confined themselves to the present setting where the Maranaw people have lived for how long, nobody really knows for sure. They even tried to trace some of the places in the Mindanao Island that bear some resemblance to the places in the story. They cannot be faulted however because most of the translators are strangers to the Maranaw dialect.
When I did the following translation, I resisted the temptation of looking at earlier works because I did not want to be influenced by their use of language. I have to admit, I struggled with my own dialect. Like any other, classical Maranaw is a language of the ancients and I am no different from any in the present generation.
This translation is the first ever attempt to write the epic in a story form. If there are other works in the past of the same format, I am not aware of it.
I believe and this may surprise many that the epic is not original to the place where my people now live. They must have taken it with them when they migrated to the highlands of Mindanao in the south of what is now Philippines and settled around the lake. It is even very possible that individual poets may have added some of their thoughts into the epic that will account for the presence of some modern words in the story.
The epic could not be a mere story of tribal wars; a belief held by many that misled translators. When one speaks of local tribal wars; one cannot be speaking of armada of war ships with captains waving spyglasses (ocular telescopes), princes and princesses, emperors and kings, allied kingdoms and armies in battle formations. If the epic is original to where the Maranaw people now lives, how can the writer be talking of blue-eyed blondes, brunette and red haired beauties unless the story was written when Europeans landed in the Asia-pacific region.
The writer is the Marco Polo of my people, a true adventurer of the first kind. As a writer, he is the Homer of Asia. As a spiritual being, he is a class of his own. How did he know for instance that the human aura emits light and collectively, a group of joyous beings can set a place glow with variant colors? He knew that human aura radiates various colors depending upon human emotions, moods and individual personalities.
At one point in the history of my people, Iranons were the most feared pirates in the Asia Pacific but they are never known to be ship builders. They built vintas, long slender bodied and fast sailing boats that can outrun (outsail) any ship at the time. It is possible therefore that the writer may have been in the company of those raiding parties. Even then, the writer must be a genius of fiction writing, as you will see in the following translation. Even the choices of words are very striking. Names of people and places are endowed with descriptive meanings but one word I found really stunning is “KAMBARANGAY A KLONG.” It literally means; the mechanical transformation of a warrior’s shield that enable the possessor to fly short and long distances in the air and through the clouds. It also allows the warrior to display acrobatic maneuvers in combat; the kind you can only see in a computer generated movie.
The epic is a combination of the Sleeping Beauty, The Trojan Wars, Power Rangers and the Lord of the Ring packaged into one. You will probably think that some of the scenes are my own creation but no. I stay as close as possible to the real meaning although I must admit, I was tempted many times to stray away to have a wider latitude but I didn’t. In one scene, an enchanted fairy princess gave the hero of this episode a magical sword that will render him invisible. The fairy’s instruction of how to make it work is the kind of scene you will only see in high tech movie of the modern times. You will be the judge.
The writer was the first among men to have imagined TIME TRAVEL. Swimming with his wife in the lake, the hero of one of the episodes was sucked into a “time whirlpool.” He suddenly found himself in another place and time. He was completely amnesic of who he was. He wandered in the place, had a wife and shirred two sons. When he remembered who he was; he found himself gasping for air. He was drowning and when he surfaced; he found his wife exactly where he left her bathing. He must have traveled back in time because in the later part of the story, he met his sons meaning at some stretch of time; there were two of him coexisting like a lovely time travel fiction movie.
THIS TRANSLATED EPISODE IS A TRIBUTE TO THE GENIUS OF MY PEOPLE
To be continued…