Setting the Stage: A Thematic Analysis of the Tikum Kadlum Epic


by: David J. Gowey


Tikum Kadlum is the first poem in the Caballero family’s sugidanon cycle that serves as a prologue for the main storylines involving recurring characters, including Labaw Donggon, Amburukay, and Matan-ayon. It provides valuable insights for contemporary readers into the cultural practices and values of Panay Bukidnon chanters, as well as the world around them within the Philippines and greater Island Southeast Asia. This paper explores four main themes from the text: (1) reverence for the natural world, (2) heirloom objects, (3) tuos as an imagistic icon, and (4) gender relations. It involves a discussion of Makabagting’s tuos, an icon of promise, and its long-term consequences on the narrative; various appeasement rituals practiced within the Panay Bukidnon community and how these connect to larger Philippine folk beliefs; constructing a dialogue between the epic’s portrayal of social and family dynamics, and ethnographic sources; and possible connections to broader Asian folklore.

Keywords: Panay Bukidnon, epics, sugidanon, folklore