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Archive for June, 2010


bow hunting swamps
bow hunting swamps

The Legend of Bukidkat

The Legend of Bukidkat

By Johnnie J. Lim

 

Bukidkat is a legendary island believed to have been existing since the history of Sulu began. Accordingly, it occasionally appeared in any parts of the Sulu sea to deceive sailors from taking the right direction or from taking their way back home. The island is said to have been inhabited by the living dead and other supernatural creatures. Some old folks from the place said that this awesome Bukidkat has  fascinating views and  enchanting seashores  that seafarers can’t resist.   It was spotted several times and became the talk of the town during the Japanese occupation in the Archipelago. A popular belief spread that the island was the reason why a number of  Japanese soldiers vanished in no time while they attempted to explore the territory.

 

 I

 

Hundreds of years ago, when Sulu archipelago was still ruled by a sultan, Suluans were all living a happy life. The sultan who was known for his bravery and whose sovereignty was in its peak, controlled the economic livelihood of all people in the land. He was so kind to everyone. Every family had the right to harvest what they had in the farm and eat what they had kept for themselves. The only thing  compulsory to be done for the sultan was to pay the zakat (tax) once a year. The rest, like the traditional sharing of the harvest to the sultan was optional.

The sultan only had one son named Datu Kiram. He was not only the most handsome in the kingdom but his strength was of no match that no one ever dared to fight him. He was the most admired lad in the land that women longed to marry. However, only one had captured his heart. A beautiful  young lass named Manis. She didn’t belong to any royal family. But unlike any ordinary girls in the kingdom, she seemed to be like a goddess. And the prince was madly in love with her.

Manis was the second daughter of a fisherman, Harun. One day, Datu  Kiram spotted her picking fresh flowers near the foot of a cascade. “I have never seen a flower as lovely as you are, young lady,” the lad said with a smile. Surprised in a while, Manis looked at the Datu and bowed her head. “Your highness… is there anything I can do for you?” The dame continued. The prince stepped down from his horse. He tapped his pet on its hips and sat on a well-shaped rock five meters away from Manis. “I have never had a day like this,”  the blue-blooded gorgeous young man exclaimed. “Well, this is going to be a special day, because I finally found the answer to my dream,” the Datu emphasized. “I…I still don’t understand, your highness. And if you don’t mind, I have to leave now. I was not able to inform my sister of coming here,” she explained. She then hurriedly slipped away. “W…Wait!” The Datu begged. But Manis was so swift  that she did not even bother  to look back.

 

II

 

“You should have been sleeping this time, my son,” the queen spoke in a soft voice. “But I can’t, mother,” Kiram answered. “Well, how precious could that woman be for you to waste this hour?” Queen Tarhata explained meaningfully. “She is not just an ordinary girl, Mother. How did you know about her?” The young man curiously inquired. “There are only three things that bother a man’s mind: wealth, power and love. But of these three, the only thing that makes a man sleepless is love,” the majestic woman explained. “Does your father know this, my son?”” She continued. But Kiram didn’t utter anything. He walked toward the window. “Why should this happen to me, Mother? Tell me. I don’t even know her name. I  was not able to ask for it,” the prince uneasily explained. The queen paused for a while…..took a deep breath and said, “look at the moon, my dear. Isn’t it beautiful and lovely? All people in the world admire it. Every time it’s up glowing in the sky, no one has ever  tried to resist  its beauty for it can even charm a human heart. And even when it’s not sparkling in the sky, people still believe that it is there till the end of time,” the queen ended. Kiram, is a little bit confused by what  his mother had said. He kept on staring at the moon. And at the core of his mind, he got an idea. There at an instant, he saw himself walking on the seashore with his girl. They sat under a coconut tree. Then there was a long silence. The seashore was cool. The wind blew gently which made the coconut trees gracefully swayed from side to side. By and by, a young coconut fell. It broke into halves. Its juice spilled.

 

III

 

“Father?” Datu Sikal exclaimed. “Our enemies have come to attack!” “Go, and take your mother with you,” Sultan Kiram explained. “I will face the satru(enemy) together with my men,” the sultan bravely said. But the enemies were too big in number that made the sultan fell from grace and faced his own death. Women were raped. The whole village was burned. The farmyard turned into ashes. And finally, trees were cut down.

The strangers continued to occupy the island. The crystal-like cascades had turned into muddy swamps. And the precious rose in the land whose fragrance had been lost finally decayed.

 

 IV

 

“I couldn’t stand to live like a stranger in my homeland. I couldn’t stand to live with these strangers who behave like soldiers of darkness,”  the Datu said to himself. “Then you must leave,” a voice came from the sky. The righteous has no place to stay in this cursed land. The young man was so amazed by what he heard. But it didn’t scare him. Instead, he continued to argue. “But I want to revenge!” He shouted to the sky. His voice echoed from corner to corner. Tears fell from his eyes. “Your kris could be as swift as the wind. It could be the best weapon in the land, but your might is not enough to defeat your enemies. This land has become a place full of evil deed. Sail now and never look back for this island will continue to hunt you if do so,” the mysterious voice ended. But Datu Sikal disobeyed the warning. Curiosity made him turned his head. And before his very eyes, he saw the island burst in blazing fire. From a distance, he could hear thousands of people crying and howling in pain. Then in his mind he said, “this is good, rather than to see you forever as the land of evil-doing.” The island sank into the ocean and disappeared. But as years went by, the island continued to hunt strangers. It mysteriously appeared in different parts of the Sulu sea as a cursed land to deceive fishermen and sailors.

 

V

 

Sometime in 1944, the archipelago fell to the hands of another group of invaders. “Hey look at that!” Said a general. “What a beautiful sight!” The other man exclaimed. “Give an order. We will proceed to the island,” the previous instructed. “Yes, sir!” The latter replied.

“I wonder why are there so many women in this island, captain.” The major said. “And they are all beautiful, aren’t they?” The captain concluded. “Exactly!” The other man confirmed. “Have you noticed something strange in this place?” The major asked. “Nothing, except the absence of men.” The captain answered. “ What do you think about it?” The commander curiously interfered. “Well, let’s investigate,” the captain suggested. The conversation was stopped when they saw two women approaching them.

Then when the light was over that day, darkness began to creep. The wind blew strangely as the moon hid behind the clouds. Everyone was sleeping…..quietly….drown by liquors…..exhausted by women that no one noticed the danger around. Slowly from nowhere, soldiers of darkness came. And it was too late to escape. There’s no way out to hide. The enemies were strong, fearless and deadly. Darkness must prevail that these invaders failed to foresee.

 

The End

 

  1. Bukid (n) is a Tagalog term means  ‘rural place.’
  2. Kat (n) is the shortened Tausug term for ‘ka-at’ which means ‘evil-doing’.  

 

 

About the Author

Johnnie J. Lim is a graduate of Ateneo de Zamboanga University, Philippines with Master of Arts in English. He was an Editor-in-Chief during his college at Mindanao State University where he finished his Bachelor of Science in Education major in English and graduated as journalist of the year.

In 2008-2009, he worked as an English teacher in Non-Destructive Testing Technology Institute, 2nd Industrial City of Dammam, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where he taught General English to college students. In 1998-2008, He worked as an English teacher and later became the Language Coordinator in Notre Dame of Jolo College, Jolo, Sulu, Philippines. He also served as one of the representatives of the American Studies Program Committee through the initiative of the Thomas Jefferson Information Center of US Embassy Manila in putting up American Studies Resource Centers in some of the colleges/universities in the Philippines. In 1994-1996, he worked as a high school English teacher and adviser of the school paper in Luuk National High School, Luuk, Sulu, Philippines.

Mr. Lim has conducted a research entitled “Students’ Reactions on Code Switching among Teachers”. He is also conducting studies about mysticism.

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