Date read: 4.4.08
Read from: Fantasy Magazine
… The Mumbaki came, as did the elder warriors, and they sang of Bugan the sky goddess who descended to earth to marry the warrior Kinggawan. They sang of how the lovers lost each other and how Kinggawan seeks his Bugan to this day. When the Mumbaki poured the wine over your head you did not cry.
It was a good sign, the village people said. But no one could explain why. It just was so.
After this, there was more dancing and feasting, but your mother took you away to the quiet of her hut where she stared into your face and tried to read your future while you suckled at her breast.
“Hi Bugan ya Hi Kinggawan” is inspired by the mythology of the mountainous Ifugao region of the Philippines, where the author was raised. It’s both thematically and aesthetically satisfying, playing on personal and cultural anxieties through parallel narrative threads: the emotional and sexual coming-of-age of a young woman named Bugan, after the Ifugao sky goddess, and the upheaval in her small village as contact is made with Western colonizers.
Loenen-Ruiz’s language is vibrant and wonderfully rhythmical (I’d love to hear the story read aloud), and she skillfully conveys the turbulence of the forces working on the protagonist and her culture. Against the themes of loss and disruption, Loenen-Ruiz sets the heady sensuality of the story’s resolution. Renewal of tradition is coupled with the building of new unities; an act of sexual transgression becomes an act of cultural resistance.
Also, the love interest is hot. Just sayin’.