Zarah Gagatiga did a couple of interviews in preparation for her upcoming book Tales From the 7,000 Isles: Filipino Folk Stories (co-authored with Dianne De Las Casas), including one with yours truly. She posted my answers on her blog, School Librarian in Action, so head on over if you’re curious. (Let me take the chance to remind everyone that I’m no expert when it comes to Philippine mythology though, just an enthusiast.) Here’s an excerpt:
d. As a writer and collector of folk tales, what is the greatest challenge you’ve encountered yet? Where do you attribute this challenge?
As a collector, the greatest challenge is finding material that not only gives a narration of the old stories, but also gives a proper context, one that explains what the myth as a whole or elements of that myth meant for the people and culture from which it originated. If I’m reading an epic, say, where the hero turns into a particular kind of animal, it’s very helpful to know whether that animal has a particular cultural significance. The old tales were always more than just literal narrations of events – like the universe itself in the eyes of many cultures, the old stories had layers, and if one simply reads a retelling of the story, without any context, that depth can be lost.
As a writer, the greatest challenge for me is trying to embrace these old myths and legends as a part of my Filipino heritage, without wrongful appropriation. These are my stories and yet, at the same time, they are not, because many of the stories which are considered Filipino folklore emerge from communities which pre-existed the idea of a Philippine nation, or even a Filipino race, communities which still exist today in a sort of grey area where they are struggling to maintain their unique cultural identities.
You can find the rest of the interview here.