The Philippines mythology has association with the folk religions of different Indigenous groups. There are different mythological Philippines figures with associated stories. The famous mythological creatures include Aswang, Manananggal, Tikbalang, Sigbin and Bakunawa. It is the sea serpent dragon that brings earthquakes, rain, eclipses, and winds. The Bakunawa lives in the sky or underworld and comes out for purpose. The word ‘Baku’ means bent or curved, and ‘Nawa’ means large snake. So, what is a Bakunawa? Bakuanawa is a sea dragon of Philippines mythology with a red tongue, the size of a lake mouth and two wings sets. The creator of all things in philippines mythology is Bathala God. Bathala God creates seven moons in the sky and Bakunawa eats one every night for six days and Bathala forbids him to eat the last moon that remains till today.
Bakunawa is also known as Baconaua or Bakonaua who is a deity that presents as a sea dragon. In this article, we share with you the best information about the Bakunawa story, cultural significance, and art.
Bakunawa falls in love with the seven sisters, and he becomes jealous of God from his creations. The disappointment of the people of earth allows the Bakunawa to eat the moon one by one to control them. The people yell to protect their moons, but their yell turns into greed and envy that empowers the sea dragon to eat the moons every night. The God Bsthawa also worries about the disappearance of the moon from heaven. The people learn to arm themselves to protect the last moon.
It is a sea dragon who falls in love with the seven moons. The dragon eats the six moons through a jump and the people of earth save the last moon through creating loud noises. Bathala stops the Bakunawa through planting bamboo on the moon that protects it from Bakunawa attack. The sea dragon is about to eat the last moon, but the People of Earth should speak unpleasant words to get back their moon. The dragon hesitates from the voice of the people and goes back to the ocean. It believes that Bakunawa is still waiting in his cave for the right moment to eat the last moon.
The dark spots on the moon surface are bamboo trees planted by the God Bathala. The dragon is not able to eat the last moon if the bamboo trees are on the surface of the moon and people alert to protect the moon through noises. This folk story is associated with the work of two famous writers Fernando Buyser and Damiana Eugenio.
The Filipino author Damiana Eugenio is the credible source to know about the different Philippines mythologies. She gathers the traditional folk stories from the ancient wisdom and writes a book named “ Philippines Folk Literature: The Legends”. Fernando Buyser translated the Damiana works about Philippines mythologies.
The sea dragon and the god of the underworld Bakunawa has significance for the Filipino culture. The story of Bakunawa shares to the kids from generations and expressed through art, literature, paintings, and sculptures. The ethnic group of the Philippines are Visayan people who respect and fear from it. As time passes, the philippines locals twist the story and turn it into an evil entity. Parents start to fear their kids by using the name of this sea dragon.
Bakunawa is also associated with the Hindu Buddist deity Naga. It has association with the Raku and Ketu heavenly bodies that are responsible for the eclipse of the sun and moon.
In some regions of the Philippines like Bicol, Baunawa worships as a God. The people of Visayas region treat Bakunawa as the threat for God while Mindanao people turn it into a flying bird named Minokawa.
The mythological creature Bahunawa has different influence on the different regions of philipines and the foreigner immigrants. Father Ignacio Alcina is a 17th century Spanish Jesus missionary in the Philippines who presents the story of Bakunawa swallowing the moon during eclipses.
Chinese mythology has a celestial dragon who attacks the moon during an eclipse. The Chinese bang drums and make loud noises to protect the moon. Get to know about Panat 6th largest Island in the Philippines now.
Bakunawa Art Influence
The Bakunawa mask is a tribal handcrafted mask with symbols that represent traditional mythological dragons. Bakunawa’s story gives the geometric calendar system and use in different spiritual rituals for Babaylan. The hilts of ancient Filipino swords make from the Bakunawa inspired decoration. You can witness the Bakunawa dragon in different games and movies. The South Korean game Ragnarok Online has the Bakunawa as a special monster in the game. The 2021 animated film Raya and the Last Dragon has the character named Sisudatu as Bskunawa.
The Sea dragon body art is also popular because different people love to have their bodies. You can find the Bakunawa tattoo in assorted colors and designs inspiration. People get traditional philippine sea dragon tattoos to associate with the ancient God and respect his power.