Southern Philippine Folktales as Texts: A Thematic and Narratological Analysis

Authors: Danielle Raye Revelo, Nicolette Anne Ibona (Mindanao State University, Iligan Institute of Technology, The Philippines)
Speakers: Danielle Raye Revelo, Nicolette Anne Ibona
Strand: Language, Community, Ethnicity
Session Type: General Session


There are a great number of studies directed toward the sociological, ethnographic, and anthropological dimensions of Mindanao indigenous tribes. However, there is a significant lack of studies that look into their oral and written literary works, particularly studies that simultaneously highlight the themes and narrative structures of Mindanao folktales. This paper aimed to fill this gap by evaluating the various elements that ground the composition of the Southern Philippine texts. Particularly, this paper sought to examine both form and content to identify cultural references and symbolism thus, giving a snapshot of the cultural truths and beliefs of the region. This study was a qualitative-descriptive research design employing narrative analysis. To determine the structural organization of the folk narratives, Gerard Genette’s theory of narratology was used. The researchers examined thirty (30) stories taken from a published collection of Southern Philippine folktales entitled, Folktales of Southern Philippines by Rolando C. Esteban, Arthur P. Casanova, and Ivie C. Esteban. Findings showed that the folktales manifested elements of narrative mood, narrative instance, and narrative time. In addition, a multitude of themes emerges, with the key themes being strength, belief in the supreme being, familial love, the symbiotic relationship between humans and animals, the triumph of good over evil, human vs. nature, cunningness/misbehavior, forbidden love, conquest, and arrogance and hubris. The analyses’ implications suggested a link between the themes and the narratological elements found in the folktales. Together, they weave a tapestry of existing communal values and traditions of the Southern Philippine tribes. Moreover, the study amplifies the need to collect and study folk narratives as they are vessels of culture and relics of our folk literature.

Keyword: Communal beliefs, Indigenous tribes, Narratology, Southern Philippines folktales, Themes,