Subject: busalian 'mightiest' warrior
Culture: Sulod / Tumandok / Panay Bukidnon
Setting: tribal warfare, central Panay highlands 19th-early 20thc
Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)
"Despite the geographical and cultural distance between the Ilocano and Sulod, the dressing scene in the Sulod epic bears a striking similarity to that in Lam-ang– Labaw Donggon addressed Abyang Alunsina, his dear revered mother: Open, please open… / that great wooden chest / with the elaborate cover. / Then from there select / discriminatingly / my treasured possessions / my elegant finery…
"The hero’s clothes and ornaments transform him into a man of prowess, ready for war and adventure: Thus dressed Labaw Donggon. / He was wrapped with silver / covered with gold. / He wore a headband / an embroidered kershief bright / not woven by local hands / but by those from other hands. / Then he picked up / his headdress saramingku / which sang with the wind / in such sweet refrain / for it was tasseled with silver / with fine laces adorned.
"This scene is repeated several times in the Sulod epic with the departure of each hero. The arming of the hero takes place in a subsequent scene where Labaw Donggon’s son asks for: My arrow which is poisoned / which, piercing one man / emerges from seven men. / And my spiral dagger / with very sharp edges…
"Labaw Donggon’s enemies, brandishing spears and krises– 'blades with seven curved edges' – are no match for his sons. They are overcome by the Sulod warriors’ charms, “overwhelmed by their magical skills.” For the Sulod warrior is a man of prowess, a busalian–a term still used by West Visayans to mean ” the mightiest of native priest,” who can command the elements, grant protection from weapons, fly through space, and bring water gushing from the heart of a human corpse."
* Demetrio 1991 v2 p587 (quoting Jocano 1969 p52)
"Central Panay farmers use the bolo to clean the farm, to chop fuel, and as a weapon. No farmer is seen without a bolo hanging from his belt."
* Steel and magic 2020 p215
"The Bukidnon people live mostly in the mountain areas of interior Panay. Another name for this Bukidnon sword is moromonggo, after the mongo seed-like ball found at the tip of the long nose on the figure found on the handle. If silver covers the entire hilt, it is called a sapot. The Aklan Bukidnons are considered to produce the best artwork on the handles of the talibong.
"The handle figure, instead of the commonly found dragon serpent, might represent a deified ancestor. An alternative possibility is that the long-nosed figure is a birdman, or a Hindu Garuda, resembling the figures seen on several keris hilt variations; examples of these variations include the tajong one [SIC] found on the borders of North Malaysia and Thailand, the rajamala of West Java, and the burung of South Sumatra."