PANYAAN: Three Tales of the Tagbanua
By Rhandee Garlitos and Annette Ferrer
Artworks by Sergio Bumatay III

Noli and Marlon lived in the coastal barangay of Banuang Daan, on the island of Coron. The reef they were headed to was part of an islet and was the best place for swimming. Gentle on most days, its pristine waters were home to large schools of colorful fish.

But it was also a panyáan, a sacred place. The people of Banuang Daan believed that it was protected by the manlalabiyot. Gigantic and fierce, these were supernatural creatures said to have the heads of octopuses and the bodies of humans. The elders always warned that any person caught by the manlalabiyot in the panyáan would never be seen again.

“Look, how brilliant the waters are!” exclaimed Noli. The waters transformed from hues of blue to bright luminescent green as they neared the islet.

“I can’t wait to see the fish down there!” Marlon agreed. Both boys jumped from the boat and dove towards the reef. They marveled at the sight of so many different corals and fish. The colors glimmered like gems under the water.

 

Nakatira sina Noli at Marlon sa Banuang Daan, isang barangay malapit sa dalampasigan ng isla ng Coron. Ang bahura na kanilang tutunguhin ay bahagi ng isang isla at ang pinakamainam na lugar para languyan. Madalas na panatag sa anumang araw, ang malinis nitong tubig ay tahanan ng malalaking tumpok ng makukulay na isda.

Ngunit ito ay isa ring panyáan, o sagradong lugar. Naniniwala ang mga taga-Banuang Daan na ito ay pinoprotektahan ng mga manlalabiyot. Malalaki at mababangis, ito ay mga dipangkaraniwang nilalang na may mga ulo ng pugita at katawan ng tao. Laging pinapaalala ng mga matatanda na ang sinumang mahuli ng mga manlalabiyot sa panyáan ay di na muli pang makikita.

“Tingnan mo, kayliwanag ng tubig dito!” bulalas ni Noli. Nagbabago ang kulay ng tubig mula sa iba’t ibang timpla ng bughaw hanggang maging maningning na luntian habang papalapit sa isla.

“Di ko na mahintay na makita ang mga isda sa ilalim!” sang-ayon ni Marlon. Sabay tumalon ang dalawa mula sa bangka at sumisid patungo sa bahura. Namangha sila sa dami ng nakita nilang iba’t ibang mga korales at isda. Kumislap ang mga kulay na parang mga brilyante sa ilalim ng tubig.

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