A Tropical Traumaturgy: Rereading the Folk in "May Bagyo Ma't May Rilim"

Christian Jil R. Benitez

DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.13185/KK2022.003811
Published Date: Feb 28, 2022 | Accepted Date: Mar 31, 2022 | Submitted Date: Mar 31, 2022


As a counterpoint to the foremost understanding of the poem dubbed as “May Bagyo Ma’t May Rilim” (lit. “There may be storm and dark”) (1605) as an articulation of an unnamed native’s submission to Catholicism, as well as a testament to their then unwavering faith, the present essay attempts to reconsider the poem through a comparative reading alongside folk poetry wagered to have come from earlier times. In other words, the poem is reread through a temporal realignment of it in the conventional periodization of Philippine (literary) history, moving it from its frequent grouping among texts from (early) Spanish colonization and toward an assemblage with the so-called precolonial texts, such as the folk bugtong (riddle), salawikain (proverb), dalit (octosyllabic quatrain), and hudhud (an Ifugao epic). In reinscribing the poem with these texts, the aforementioned understanding of the poem as merely an affirmation of Catholic faith is then eluded, allowing instead the emergence of a certain folk traumaturgy, that is, a trauma-work that recognizes súgat as a wound whose arrival is most accepted and anticipated, if only to transfigure it as well as an opportunity. This traumaturgy intuited from the poem is therefore perceived to be an embodiment of tropicality, not on its reliance on the “precolonial” folk sensibility that is yet to be tempered or colonized, but in its demonstration of a turn that poetically attenuates terror and transforms it as a moment perhaps of the erotic.


Philippine folk poetry, tropicality, trauma, vernacular, súgat

Please login first to access subscription form of article

Read Full text in PDF

Browse By

Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

The Philippine Commission on Higher Education (CHED) declares Kritika Kultura as a CHED-recognized journal under the Journal Challenge Category of its Journal Incentive Program.

International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)