Monday, April 26, 2010

Gonzalez Sr. May Be Weak But His “Dungan” Is Still Very Strong

In her pioneering study on the Ilonggo concept of the “dungan” and the “dunganon nga tawo,” UP-Visayas anthropologist Alicia Magos defined dungan as "a life force, an energy, as well as an ethereal entity, a spirit with a will of its own that resides in the human body and provides the essence of life. Apart from denoting an alter ego and soul stuff, the dungan as presently understood refers to such personal attributes as willpower, knowledge and intelligence, and even the ability to dominate and persuade others. (Magos 1992, 47-50)." According to Professor Magos, everyone is born with a dungan albeit of varying strengths or "force levels" and only a lucky few are blessed with a very strong “dungan.” If this sounds vaguely familiar to you, it is because the Ilonggo concept of the “dungan” finds many parallels in other cultures. The Chinese call it the chí, Christian doctrine calls it the soul (or spirit if you will) and even Hollywood, in the blockbuster sci fi movie Star Wars, dub it simply as "The Force."

Under the primordial Ilonggo concept of the “dungan,” life is seen as a constant battle for ascendancy between and among people of varying levels of “dungan.” This is why we Ilonggos have a term – “naunahan dungan” – to describe this constant, everyday clash between embodied spirits. This belief in the “dungan” is further illustrated in our belief in “usog” wherein an adult causes a newly-born infant to get sick because an adult’s fully-developed “dungan” supposedly overwhelms a baby’s still weak “dungan.” Thus, to prevent “usog,” old folks believe that parents should apply a dab of their saliva on the forehead of their baby.

While the concept of the “dungan” is easily defined, the concept of the “dunganon nga tawo” escapes simple characterization because it changes thru time and place. In the pre-Spanish days for example, the datu and the babaylan were the epitomes of the “dunganon nga tawo.” The tribal chieftain, with his wisdom, courage and luck in battle, symbolized mastery of the temporal world while the babaylan was worshiped for his/her mastery over the unseen, spiritual world. During the Spanish period, the friar replaced the datu and the babaylan as the “dunganon nga tawo” in Philippine society. But while the Spanish friar dominated and influenced both the temporal and spiritual affairs of their Philippine colony, a few Indios of indomitable spirit and of very strong “dungan” dared challenge Spanish hegemony over our islands. Thus, common bandits and millenarian cultists (like Papa Isio of Mt. Kanlaon for instance) were regarded, in the eyes of the common tao at that time, also as “mga dunganon nga tawo.” In present-day Philippine society, the concept of the “dunganon nga tawo” has morphed into something less visceral. For example, people today admire “moral” courage more than “physical” courage, luck in business and success in one’s chosen profession more than independent-mindedness or rebelliousness against established authority. While our present-day concept of the “dunganon nga tawo” may change thru time, suffice it to say that the typical Ilonggo instinctively knows a “dunganon nga tawo” when he sees one.

Understanding the twin concepts of “dungan” and the “dunganon nga tawo” is very important if we want to understand why Filipinos vote the way they do. During the previous 2007 elections for example, many were surprised when Magdalo rebel Antonio Trillanes IV won as senator despite the fact the he was in jail and had limited campaign funds. But if viewed from this perspective, Trillanes fits the traditional mold of the “dunganon nga tawo” – a fearless and heroic young man who dared to challenge a corrupt government – and this I believe is the primary reason why Filipinos voted for him in the last elections.

This is why I believe Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. will win as mayor in the coming elections because, notwithstanding his advanced age, everyone in Iloilo City can see that his “dungan” is still very strong. Epitomizing the classic “dunganon nga tawo” of the datu mold, the old man still inspires respect, fear and admiration both from his opponents and supporters alike. His closest opponent Vice Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog, who in turn enjoys a “babaylan-like” popularity, has miserably failed to prove that his “dungan” is stronger than Gonzalez. In fact, the current joke going around is that, after being pelted with stones during one of his barangay “pulong-pulongs,” Mabilog is now going around campaigning wearing a helmet.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Vice-Mayor Jed Mabilog is under siege
from the local press and political foes in this coming national and local elections.

Aside from his performance as the Presiding Officer of the City Council, Jed's sexual orientation is
brewing in the blogs and coffee shops, and the funniest accusation is the missing microscope in the Lab during his high school days.

Lately, political handlers were
discussing the latest issue that would be in the front-burner in the coffee shops at Amigo Hotel.

Among Jed circles, they disclosed that Jed was once a holder of American passport even when he went to Harvard University in 2003.

As a older of American passport, granting, then Jed is An American citizen; or should we say was once an American citizen if and when he availed to the mandatory requisites
of retaining and acquisition of Filipino citizenship so provided under Republic Act 9225 which was passed by Congress in 2003 and known as "Retention and Acquisition of Philippine Citizenship Act of 2003."

One of the councilors running under his party knows pretty well about this issue. The lady candidate is holding this ace card
against Jed and maybe the reason why, among others, he had chosen her to be included in his slate of candidates for city councilors.

Does Jed strong enough to fight for the interests of the Ilonggos?

Hmmmp, kon matuod, siya mahuyang kag indi lang nga naunahan ka dungan, kondi wala gid dungan!

Remo Monteverde