Jump to content
Poetry Magnum Opus

Philippines: Ambahan/Awit / Tanaga


Recommended Posts

Explore the Craft of Writing Poetry
Southeast Asian Verse

The Philippine Islands is a Southeast Asia country located in the Western Pacific Ocean. Filipino poetry dates back before colonization and has been an intregal part of the Filipino culture. The earliest Tagalog epics are written in verse.

Blue by Joel Josol A favorite of mine, a modern day, Filippino poet.

Dawn, at the pier, without you,
its blue cast holding tent,
veils the colors of the day.

The sky moves clouds,
bluish grey and half-asleep,
over waters undisturbed in its blueness.

I sit at the platform's edge
with crags, in silhouettes, before me
watching the horizon lift the veil.

The only remnant of the night
is the lamp's light
walking away, an old man.

This beautiful glimpse, this dawn
is short-lived, quickly dispersed
like your glances.

I look down on the waters,
my reflection is all blue.

  • Ambahan  is ancient indigenous poetry found carved into bamboo on the Philippine island of Mindoro. The island is home to eight indigenous groups collectively called Mangyans. Two of the groups carved 7 syllable rhymed lines onto bamboo to record events such as marriage, birth, death, gatherings, and other cultural events.  The poems were then chanted at the events
    The elements of the Ambahan are:
    1. written in any number of lines
    2. syllabic, 7 syllable lines
    3. rhymed, end rhyme as far as you can go, then create a new rhyme to go as far as it can go etc
    4. sharing cultural events

      A Place to Rest and Nest by Judi Van Gorder

      Never seen a yellow kite
      birds of prey are not so bright
      soaring high by day, some night
      with extraordinary sight.
      Tagalog prehistory
      tells us those birds caused the sea
      to war with the sky, chiefly
      to make Earth, creatively.
                         ~~Judi Van Gorder
      Mythical Tagalog story of creativity. Kites cause a war between the sky and the sea which created the earth where the kite had a place to rest and nest.

  • Awit literally means song. This stanzaic form seems very similar to the Tanaga. It is unique in that a stanza should be one complete, grammatically correct, sentence.  The elements of the Awit are:
    1. stanzaic, written in any number of quatrains.
    2. a narrative, it tells a story.
    3. dodecasyllabic, 12 syllables per line, there is usually a pause after the 6th syllable.
    4. rhymed, each stanza mono-rhymed aaaa bbbb cccc etc.
    5. composed with each stanza representing a complete, grammatically correct, sentence.
    6. composed liberally using various figures of speech.
    7. written anonymously.
  • The Tanaga is a Filipino verse form that was originally composed in Tagolog, which to my ear is one of the more musical of languages. (Kumusta ka? Mabuti salam at) The form dates back to the 16th century and has an oral tradition. This old folk form had a resurgence of popularity in the 20th century, died down and resurfaced again mid 21st century. The poems are not titled. Originally it was a compact poem, contained in 4 lines, each is emotionally charged and asks a question that begs an answer.

    The elements of the Tanaga are:
    1. a tetrastich, a poem in 4 lines. However, modern poets have modified it to longer works in a stanzaic pattern of any number of quatrains.
    2. syllabic, 7-7-7-7 syllables per line.
    3. rhymed, originally monorhymed aaaa.  Modern Tanagas also use aaaa bbbb etc.,  or aabb ccdd etc or abba cddc etc or any combination rhyme can be used.
    4. asks a question seeking an answer
    5. composed with the liberal use of metaphor.
    6. untitled.  But in this poetic world we kind of have to title our poems for identity's sake.

      I'd Like to Think, It Knew

      Saintly sentinel stands guard,
      oversees nature's regard.
      St. Francis in my front yard,
      stone statue weathered and scarred.

      The welcome, silent and stead,
      his story of care is widespread.
      A brown bird lights on his head
      to peruse the garden bed.

      Do you think it may have known
      what the ancient priest had sown?
      In Christ he was never alone,
      love for all life he'd intone.
                          ~~Judi Van Gorder

~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

An Occasional Poem in Tanaga frame 2-15-20

He Leads Us

Master poet shows us how
to push the poetic plow
and compose tomes in the now.
Dave, please stand and take a bow.
                             ~~ Tinker

Filipino Tanaga

Tagalog was its first home,
way to write a simple tome.
Join us now from sheltered dome,
and again one day we will roam.

Master poets show us how
to push the poetic plow
and compose poems in the now.
Let's all stand and take a bow.

~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Tinker changed the title to Philippines: Ambahan/Awit / Tanaga
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.