Minokawa

Variations: Arimaonga (Maranao); Bannog, Banog, Ban-og (Iloko, Tinguian); Baua, Bawa (Pampangan, Tagalog)

The Minokawa is a Bagobo eclipse creature, comparable to other voracious dragons such as the bakunawa and the markupo. Its equivalents in other Filipino cultures include the Arimaonga of the Maranao, the Ban-og or Bannog of the Iloko and Tinguian, and the Baua of the Hiligaynon, Pampangan and Tagalog.

The minokawa appears as a bird as big as the islands of Negros and Bohol (it is unclear with this refers to combined or separate island masses). It has a beak and talons of steel, sharp swords for feathers, and mirror eyes.

It lives on the eastern horizon, above the clouds and outside the sky. There it lies in wait for the moon every night, and tries to devour her every time she appears. The moon has eight holes in the horizon to enter the sky, and another eight holes to leave the sky; thus she confuses her would-be predator, and manages to avoid being eaten – most of the time, at least. When the minokawa manages to start eating the moon, it causes a lunar eclipse.

The ultimate goal of the minokawa is to swallow the moon, then the sun, and then descend upon Earth to devour all its inhabitants. Fortunately, it can be startled in the same way as normal animals. During an eclipse one must scream and make noise to cause the bird to release its catch. The minokawa stops out of surprise, curiosity, or even appreciation of the music.

Its counterpart, the baua of the Hiligaynon, relents after the promise of ample food. It lives in a cave called calulundan, above the sky and guarded by blue smoke.

The ban-og of the Iloko and Tinguian is big enough to darken the sky in flight, and strong enough to carry off both a hunter and his porcine quarry. It builds its nests on the tops of trees on a distant mountain, and brings even the biggest animals as food for its chicks. However, it can be easily outwitted and tricked into its own demise.

References

Ramos, M. D. (1971) Creatures of Philippine Lower Mythology. University of the Philippines Press, Quezon.

Ramos, M. D. (1973) Filipino Cultural Patterns and Values. Island Publishers, Quezon City.

Ramos, M. D. (1990) Tales of Long Ago in the Philippines. Phoenix Publishing House, Quezon City.

15 Comments

  1. It’s fascinating how cultures use what they understand of the world to describe what they don’t. This idea that humans vaguely just classify things we don’t understand as “magic” is the most awful simplification. Mythologies actively use patterns and phenomena they have an understanding of (like hunting behaviour) to describe those things that they don’t … (Sorry, rather obvious really, this myth just made me think about it for some reason. Ecosystems in space.)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. In Greece it was believed that if the Moon went red that witches were trying to steal the blood of the Moon Goddess. To prevent this the people would make loud noises to scare the witches. Interesting that something similar occurs in the Philippines

    Liked by 1 person

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