IN THE KINGDOMS OF RAJAH BUWAYA AND PRINCESS WALING-WALING
Story by Percival Campoamor Cruz
(Published in Asian Journal San Diego on December 31, 2010)
Long time ago, there was a kingdom, not too far away from Capiz, ruled by Rajah Buwaya who was feared because he was fierce and unforgiving. Attempts were made to bring him down from power, instigated by other rulers like him; but those ended in failure and ignominy.
In the first place, Rajah Buwaya was really good in combat and so were his men. He trained his men constantly and imported gunpowder and new weapons of war from China. Warfare was the main business of his rule. He successfully instilled fear in the hearts of his enemies through spreading rumors about his meanness. The
enemies were psychologically defeated even before they attacked.
In the second place, Rajah Buwaya surrounded his kingdom with a high wall made out of the strongest bamboo poles that could be found in the kingdom. In addition, he had a moat built alongside the wall. And in the rivulet that flowed in the moat the cunning rajah let loose his pet crocodiles.
He had his house built atop the highest ground so that he could see the four corners of his kingdom from the vantage point of his window. He could immediately see approaching unrecognizable travelers.
Rajah Buwaya coerced the men in the kingdom to undertake the construction of the wall and moat. His subjects put up with a lot of hardship in building his pet projects. Those who tried to escape the forced labor were thrown into the moat to become the crocodiles’ food. Many families lost their fathers to the crocodiles. There were only two choices in the kingdom of Rajah Buwaya: Serve in his army as a loyal soldier or be a worker at his construction projects.
Whatever the rajah desired he got. He took interest in the land next to his kingdom, he forcibly took over it in spite of the owner’s protestation.
When he took a liking for a woman to become his wife, whether the woman was from his kingdom or from outside, she became his wife with the use of force.
In the meantime, in another part of the archipelago, Princess Waling-Waling was being groomed to succeed her father, Rajah Matanda, as the next ruler of the kingdom. She was the only child who could inherit the throne, albeit she was a woman.
The people enjoyed freedom in the kingdom of Rajah Matanda. They chose their livelihood. There were, among them, farmers, fishermen, foresters, carpenters, raisers of poultry and goats . . . The people chose their mates and their beliefs; there were, among them, believers of Mohammed and there were believers of Jesus Christ. The people were happy and progressive.
Rajah Matanda had the final say on disputes asking for justice to be meted out. Before laying down his decision, however, he listened to the declarations of everyone concerned, including that of the accused person. He invoked the death penalty sparingly; and, in a few cases involving execution, execution was humane – it was by way of the bow and arrow – quick and merciful killing by way of shooting a poisoned arrow into the convicted person’s heart.
Rajah Matanda was a compassionate and wise ruler. He maintained only a small army because his goal was peace and not war. His subjects were law-abiding and looked up to him as their “father”.The people willingly performed their duties according to the law and whatever was ethically correct.
Rajah Buwaya and Rajah Matanda had different personalities. They had different styles of governing. One was famous all over the archipelago for being a mean person; the other one was famous for being a peace-loving gentleman. Other rulers in the archipelago had high respects for Rajah Matanda. In contrast they had a great
dislike for Rajah Buwaya. These friends of Rajah Matanda agreed to come to his aid should Rajah Buwaya decided to invade his kingdom.
However, Rajah Buwaya had the cunning of the monkey – the trait of being tricky. He was to implement a plan that would enable him to take over the kingdom of Rajah Matanda, without need of invasion. He planned to abduct Princess Waling-Waling and force the attractive next ruler to become one of his many wives.
And because the people in Rajah Matanda’s kingdom could pursue whatever belief they had in life, a group of citizens that believed in the power of the mind over the body was having a meeting inside a secret cave in the cover of night.
“We want to attain a high level of consciousness such that we can command the body to obey a certain way using only the mind,” the oldest member of the group was talking. “My ancestors possessed the power, handed it down to my parents and, now, I am its keeper.”
The cavernous place was dimly lit by a few torches. It was an appropriate atmosphere for whatever the old man was about to show. “There are spirits around us. Some of them confuse our minds and lead us to do bad things. We want to be in contact with the good spirits, those that can teach us healing. These same spirits show us the way to performing extraordinary abilities – such as the one I am about to demonstrate,” the old man continued.
As he walked toward the center of the hall, where he could be seen clearly, all eyes were focused on him. He stopped at a certain spot and froze like a stone, in the meantime, uttering some kind of chant. Wings came out of his back and he arose from the ground. His body split up into two, at the waistline; the part from the head down to the waist started to lift up into the air and the part from the waist to the feet fell down and remained standing on the ground. Wak-wak-wak-wak. . . The wings flapped and made noise; the old man began to fly and headed toward the mouth of the cave. The members followed him and watched him get out into the open space and quickly soar into the sky.
“Manananggal”, they were called, the creatures that could split up their bodies and make their upper torso fly in the fashion of bats.
They were ordinary people during the day. At night, when they went on missions, they transformed into “manananggal”.
The devious “manananggal”acquired fangs and claws, and hungered for human blood akin to vampires. It victimized mothers with babies in their wombs. It lusted for the blood of unborn and newly-born infants. It flew overhead and landed on the roofs of homes where it knew there were babies; it sat on the roof and waited until the right opportunity came to seize the babies. Its tongue elongated and could creep through holes and gaps in
the houses and tracked down the babies.
Village medicine men knew that the “mananaggal” could not stand the smell of garlic and would be badly hurt by brightness coming either from the sun or a strong source of light. They advised that shards of broken glass be poured onto the open cavity of the lower torso left behind by the “manananggal”. Upon its return, the “manananggal” would not be able to descend on the lower torso because of the shards that were sticking out; it would continue to fly on in search of a dark, hiding place and, failing to find a good one, it would be exposed to sunlight by the break of day and would die and then vaporize into thin air.
Going back to Rajah Buwaya and Princess Waling-Waling, the abduction of the princess was a success. However, she could not become the rajah’s wife. She could not be taken by force. She carried a knife that she had no qualm thrusting into her heart should Rajah Buwaya impose his desires on her. “Don’t you dare touch me”, the princess warned him, “this knife will find its way into your heart if you even try. Or you will find me dead before I become your sex slave, you crazed monster!”
How could Rajah Matanda and his allies rescue the princess? How could they break into Rajah Buwaya’s impenetrable wall and moat before being eaten by the crocodiles?
While Rajah Matanda was deep in thought, Rajah Buwaya was likewise thinking about his options. He and his men were on the lookout for approaching troops. “They’re imbeciles! They won’t be able to scale my wall, much less, go past the moat! Ha, ha, ha.” he gave out a loud, contemptuous laugh.
One night, Rajah Buwaya and his trusted men were stunned by a strange noise that was coming closer and closer. – Wak, wak, wak, wak . . . It was too dark to see what was producing the noise. Little did they realize that the high wall had been breached. When they looked toward the sky, they saw a squadron of what looked like giant bats already circling over the rajah’s house and waiting to attack.
It was a squadron of“manananggal” that came out to rescue the princess. They came with torches and explosives and these were dropped into the house of Rajah Buwaya. The house began to burn and so did the bamboo wall. Soon there was a big conflagration that the villagers could not help but notice. They came out en masse carrying knives, sticks, stones and other crude weapons. They took the burning as the signal to rise up arms and overthrow their cruel rajah.
Rajah Buwaya’s soldiers began to panic and ran in different directions. In fact they had been drinking with the rajah just before the surprise attack. And being half-drunk, they were going around in circles. The rajah who was himself on the run tripped on a rock and fell into the moat. He became a nice dinner for the crocodiles that were starving at that time.
The people agreed to unite the two kingdoms into one and, before long, Princess Waling-Waling took over the reign as Sultana and became the most beautiful and most beloved ruler of the archipelago ever.