Sunday, October 30, 2016

A Tale of Sigbin and Tambaloslos

Most societies in the world have their own share of folktales that are passed from one generation to another through word of mouth. These myths and fantasies have passed the test of time so that their stories are still told even today. In the Philippines there are many folktales about fairies, witches, ghosts, evil spirits and of mythical creatures. In the Southern Philippines particularly in some parts of Mindanao and in the Visayas region some of these mythical creatures include the sigbin and tambaloslos which are the topic of this article.

Sigbin is a mythical creature which is said to be a pet of a witch or aswang. It looks similar to a hornless goat that has a body size slightly larger than that of a cat with an oversized ears and long tail. Its hind legs are longer than its fore legs. The sigbin usually moves at night and unseen at day time because it turns itself into a charcoal that is hidden in a clay jar. When moving, it walks backward with its head pointed down and looking through its hind legs so that it sees objects to its rear rather than to its front. 
There are different kinds of sigbin that are distinguished according to their use to its owner, the witch or the wizard. It could be used as a manslayer by its owner to kill the latter’s enemy. A sigbin could disguise itself as a dog or any other animal, and at opportune time would attack its victim. It is even said that it could sip the victim's blood through the latter's shadow. The sigbin could also be used as a means of conveyance by the owner. The speed of the sigbin is very fast so that it could bring her to any place just within a few seconds. People wonder why she arrives ahead of them when she had not yet even moved from her place when they departed. Another kind of sigbin is one which could be used as food to serve the owner’s guests during a feast. The taste of the meat could be like that of a pork, a beef, a mutton or whatever the owner desire it to be. She should not worry about the number of guests because the supply of meat is inexhaustible. Being served as food on the table is not the end of the life of the sigbin because its owner could restore it back to life through any piece of the leftover bones. The resurrected sigbin is the very same original sigbin that had existed before the feast.

Tambaloslos is a male mischievous mythical creature with a big head and a large mouth that is a denizen of the woods. It plays prank to people who stray into its territory by having them become disoriented. The tambaloslos is delighted to see its victim become confused and lost, and its excitement makes its mouth become bigger so that its entire face would be covered. The only way for the victim to regain his bearings is to take his shirt off and then put it back on inside out. The Bicol region has a sensual version of the tambaloslos story because it prefers women to be its victim. In its usual way, it disorients its victim, and again, the only way for her to escape from the situation is to take off her clothes and put it back on inside out. When she undresses the tambalolos upon seeing her breast becomes sexually aroused causing its genital to rise up to its head so that its vision would be blocked. In that instance the power of the tambaloslos to control her is lost, and it would also be her opportune time to quickly get out of harm’s way in the woods.

In the literary sense, the word “tambaloslos” is used to mean a useless or an inept male person. It is seldom used to refer to a woman. Tambaloslos is a slang word in The Cebuano language. It is a vulgar word and is not used in a polite and formal conversation. Saying the word in such a situation indicates a lack of good taste on the part of the speaker. In rare instances people say it to elicit a humorous effect. The suffix “loslos “is a slang term for the male genital. It is maybe for this reason that the word “Tambaloslos” has not finds its way to acceptance in formal conversational usage despite the fact that the tales of tambaloslos is as old as the Visayan culture. “Tambaloslos kang daku!”is a sentence in Cebuano that is somewhat similar to “You’re such a dimwit!” or something to that effect.