Framing the Folk in Popular Folklore: Locating Folk Influences in Philippine Creature Urban Legends

Authors: Joseph Casibual Jr. (Western Mindanao State University, The Philippines)
Speakers: Joseph Casibual Jr.
Strand: Oral Heritage
Session Type: General Session


Folklore has always been a part of people’s lives making it an all-encompassing body of culture which persists to exist from pre-industrial times even up to this day. Many people think that folklore is rural and tend to conclude that people in the city have no folklore. But this is not true, and part of this urbanized existence is the transformation that sparks the question of “folkness” in these narratives, which we now call “urban legends”. This paper explores the folk influences in Philippine creature urban legends- looking into how “folkness” is translated in creature-based tales. Using Social Constructionist Theory by Berger and Luckmann (1966), it seeks to frame folk influences in three popular Philippine urban legends namely: (1) White Lady, (2) Maria Labo and (3) Robinson’s Snake Man. Using the movie adaptations as the corpus and the lens in analyzing these tales, it specifically attempts to trace influences of “folkness”, examine the thematic focus, and analyze cultural aestheticization in conjunction to folklore. Furthermore, the question of relevance these narratives have in our society has always been amplified through the functions that they play by tackling pressing issues and the reality that they re/construct. Furthermore, it is clear that folklore is always there to alleviate and magnify public anxieties; and that “folkness” is not fixed on being an old and rural-based term but a reconstructed reality out of a given time and space.

Keywords: Urban legends, Folkness, Folklore, Popular lore