For further info refer to the article Luntarsug: Reconstruction of a Lost Ancient Sulu Script
BANGA' is a Sinug word used to refer to a pot made of clay generally used for cooking. In Malay, the equivalent word is BELANGA, while in Tagalog, it's BALANGA. In Bisaya, BANGA refers to a jar made of clay used for storing water. As you can see, BANGA, BELANGA, and BALANGA almost sound the same, although they come from different languages. They refer to different kinds of earthen vessels.
Pots are generally called ANGLIT or TUNGKANG in Sinug, PALAYOK in Tagalog, PERIUK in Malay. In Bisaya, ANGLIT refers to either a pot or a small pot. In Sinug, the earthen jar used for storing water is called PUGA or KIBUT, while in Bisaya and Tagalog, it's called BANGA. In Bisaya, they have this similar-sounding term called TIBUD, which refers to a small jar used for storing liquids. The word PUGA is an English slang which means Marijuana. There's no connection whatsoever to the PUGA of the Tau Sug.
In Malay, the jar for storing water is called TEMPAYAN. The small jar is called BALANG. A TEMPAYAN also refers to an earthen jar used to ferment rice or vinegar. In Tagalog or Bisaya, the equivalent term for this is TAPAYAN. TAPAYAN in Bisaya bears an additional meaning. It means adorned or decorated.
I don't know if this TAPAYAN that comes from the root word TAPAY is connected to TAPAY or TAPAI, a traditional way of fermenting rice or other starchy foods known to many parts of Southeast Asia. Perhaps the fermented rice is stored in a jar, that's why this jar is called TAPAYAN or TEMPAYAN. If they are not from the same roots, it is a great coincidence indeed and something to study further from an etymon perspective. There are some linguistic similarities among Sinug, Malay, Tagalog, and Bisaya. After all, they belong to the same Austronesian or Malayo-Polynesian family, the linguistic bond of the Balbangsa, Bangsawan, or Maharlika brethren.
I love you, peace. Let's sail together. Layag Sug!
Even before the Federation of Malaysia was established in 1963, the Philippine Congress already discussed naming their country ‘Malaysia’. In 1962, Philippine Congressman and later Senator Domocao Alonto passed a bill pushing for it, albeit unsuccessfully. Another proposed bill, this time to use the name ‘Maharlika’ was filed by another senator, Eddie Ilarde, in 1978. This was after 16 years of wanting to use ‘Malaysia’ as a name. Now, after 41 years, a Philippine President is looking at bringing the name ‘Maharlika’ back to life, to reconnect the ‘Malayness’ of the people. Philippine national hero Jose Rizal was referred as ‘the pride of a Malay race'. He dreamed of a ‘Malay Irredenta’ or redemption of the Malay identity. A follower of his, Wenceslao Vinzons, took the lead in raising awareness and consciousness of the Malay people, by proposing for the creation of union among Malay states.
Remember that 'Malaysia' is a name that referred to the geography, society, culture and people in the late 1800's to early 1900's of what is now called Malaysia, Singapore, Southern Thailand, Brunei, Sulu archipelago, Mindanao, Philippines, Timor Leste and Indonesia.
After Duterte’s 'announcement' a few days back, many people became language analysts, trying to get the meaning and origin of the word ‘Maharlika’. President Duterte said it's a Malay word that refers more to the ‘concept of serenity and peace'. Some people who don’t like the change to Maharlika only want to connect and preserve the country’s Christian links. They want to connect the name to the arrival of Christianity to what is now called Philippines, Anglicised version of the original Hispanic name Las Islas Felipinas, as the Catholic Church would be celebrating 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines by 2021. Some believe Maharlika refers to 'nobility', 'warrior class', 'nobly created', 'royalty', ‘big phallus’, and 'freemen', which many believe to be part of the ancient heritage of a people from a pre-Hispanic period. Some dispute the reference to nobility or being noble, because noble in Tagalog is dugong bughaw, which is actually just a translation from the term 'blue blood' or sangre azul from Spanish.
Others believe that Maharlika comes from the word Maha (great) and Likha (create) in Tagalog. In Sanskrit, Likha means writing. But I believe Maharlika has a connection to Mahardika’ (Merdeka to the Malay), a Tau Sug root word which means 'freedom'. Notice that all words mentioned above have related meanings. Indeed, if people have freedom, they are freemen. Their freedom would even make them feel like they’re being nobles or warriors. And when they fight to redeem their freedom, they have 'balls', which are linked to 'phalluses'.
As I mentioned in my Facebook postings, I didn’t find any credible resource that supports Maharlika being a ‘big phallus’. What I found instead is the word Mahaligga, which means ‘having a great male organ’ or ‘great phallus’. The word comes from the two words Maha (great) and Ligga (phallus). There is also a claim that Maharlika originated from lingam, which I find inaccurate and has no connection with arlika or lika or whatsoever if it is detached from Maha. According to the dictionary, Lingam in Hinduism is ‘a symbol of divine generative energy, especially a phallus or phallic object as a symbol of Shiva’. It comes from a Sanskrit word which is literally a ‘mark of sexual characteristic’. Meaning, it has no connection to Maharlika at all, although its sound is similar to Maharligga. Ligga, Arlika, and Lika are different from one another. Lika means ‘a beautiful Georgian girl’. It is what you use to call someone you like or respect. Meanwhile, Arlika is described as ‘something that can contribute to sensitivity, creativity and idealistic qualities of the nature of men that could be expressed in a variety of literary or artistic fields’.
Someone asked me which one comes first, Sulu or Maharlika. I replied that the Sulu archipelago was a country that has its own territory or statehood. If the meaning of Maharlika is ‘freemen’ and ‘noble’ and ‘freedom’, it is the people and their souls or beings that are Maharlika. The Tau Sug used to say, Mahardika' sambil pa ginhawa baran (freedom includes the soul and body).
And if Maharlika only means noble to the Tagalog, to the Tau Sug it is called balbangsa. The Tagalog also believe in the concept of a being or a soul, which they call diwa. In Tau Sug, the soul is called ginhawa, and in Malay, jiwa.
For me, if people can relate more to Maharlika than to Philippines or Pilipinas, then it would make sense to adopt. Better to follow what is in people’s soul and being. This was how people lived in those times. Perhaps there are positive psychological effects to them if they are referred to as Maharlika. But the Tau Sug will remain true to their own identity, keeping their heritage as the people of the Sulu archipelago that have been living with sea currents, regardless of whichever countries they become citizens in.
I love you, peace. Let's sail together. Layag Sug!
The book entitled PIS: Pemikiran dan Identiti Suluk, (referring to the thought and Identity of the Suluk people) is a book that combines the writings about Suluk people in various aspects involving detailed studies as well as the description of the ideal thinking or philosophy behind the heritage of this people, said Mohd Fazil Ajak and Nelson Dino as the editors and core writers of this book.
The book is dedicated to all Suluk people and especially to the Suluk leaders, Allahyarham Nalindung Datuk Tawfiq DSP Abu Bakar Titingan Damsani and Allahyarham Nalindung Tun (Dr) Datu Mustapha bin Datu Harun who were devoted to the development of culture, language, ideas and identity of Suluk people and other native people of Sabah.
This book can be a source of your thesis and other academic papers relating to the culture, arts, heritage and language of the Suluk people. The book is written in Bahasa Malaysia.
This book is published in the late 2018 by Pertubuhan Profesional Suluk Sabah (PROS), Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia and it is now available to be owned. Please buy, read and write. It’s only cost you RM55 for one copy, excluding the postage. The postage is about RM10-12, depending to which place in the entire Malaysia is to be mailed. For owning a more than one copy, you would be entitled to more discounts.
Here’s the contact for order: +601110577150. You can also send your inquiry through WhatsApp.
The Bangsa Sug* knows that even voting for no would not be winning as their home-island is part of the 'core' to be included in the proposed autonomy named after the colonial-imposed identify of the people, territory and government and even part of the legendary Sulu Sea.
Their vote for no is somehow a symbolism that they are fighting for their rights to self-determination, which is the core purpose of the plebiscite. This is another milestone in the history of the Sulu archipelago. This 'no' should also be heard and considered. likewise those voted for yes. They have exercised their rights of suffrage and that's their freedom to choose whatever they want, thus exercising their democratic rights.
If some chose no or yes, be it. The interest of some in choosing no is to protect anything left in their home-island to be kept for the next generations, peace and development. And the interest of those choosing yes is also for peace and development. Whatever nation's identity they are given doesn't matter anymore. That's the way democratic process is done.
As having a bangsa of their own, they once again proved that they have their own identity, language, culture and heritage from geographically different and demographically unique bonded by the strong sea currents in sailing the sea of the Sulu archipelago.
But being Muslims, their connections with their Muslim brethren that chose to be identified with colonial identity are still strong because their ties are bonded by the kalimah, 'La Ilaha IllAllah Muhammadur Rasulullah', not the nation named by colonials. This is the most peaceful way of making coexistence stronger than ever.
Allah Knows Best!
*The group of people of the Sulu archipelago, geographically and demographically bounded by Sulu Sea.
In situ, you are called Sulu
You are also called Sug,
a contraction of the old word Sulug,
which means "currents of the sea",
the sea now known to the world as Sulu Sea.
From your own tongue it comes,
not from others' mouths.
While you were also called Suluk or Solok,
your name will always take us back
to what is called the “tranquil
flowing current of the sea”,
which has the characteristics of
“travelling in the right path”.
And you are peaceful.
The Lannang called you Sulu,
a maritime polity recorded in Ming Shilu.
Around 1375, an Arab from Mecca,
Sayed Ali, called you Suluk.
He heard from the natives the word Sulug.
Ibn Majid in 1462 wrote it as Suluk
but didn’t claim the name comes from him.
Your Malay brethren know you as Suluk,
from Sulug (where g becomes k)
and from Sulu’ (where k changed
into a apostrophic symbol
as a glottal stopper).
That’s the nature of their tongue,
And that’s real and “birthtal”.
Your brethren from Banjarmasin
were calling you Banjar Kulan,
possibly from Kulaan, which means “close-knit”
in their native tongue.
You were a “Banjar Close-knit” then.
Every now and then your name changes
into different kinds according to people’s ex situ understanding.
You’ve been called Karasikan, Kola and Kaling.
When the Spanish arrived
on your archipelago,
they named you Felicia,
which means “happy things or happy times”.
Does this mean
you were once a happy place
but not anymore now? And why not?
Purple Couch. 15 May 2017. 2:33PM.
I love you, peace. Let's sail together. Layag Sug!
I was with Apis Cuer and Brian tonight sharing something about reading. The sharing was with UMS Art Students at “Bicara Orang Seni: The Power of Reading” conducted by KARMA UMS at the Faculty of Humanities, Arts and Heritage, UMS, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. (Thank you so much, KARMA, for inviting us and allowing us to share with you all.)
Let me share some thoughts on my personal experience with reading and writing.
I don't think I can ever divorce myself from these two “boring” words, "reading" and "writing". Reading has already become part of my habit to balance my thoughts between truths and lies before I write. Reading helps a lot in opening my mind and heart to write anything under the shining sun and glittering moon. It even strengthens my love to my left, my right, my front and my back - my environment surrounding me. In Malaysia, the citizens are very fortunate that they are supported and urged to read and buy books. The government even exempts them from paying taxes if they buy books.
When I was a child and only beginning to get familiar with alphabets and letters, I’d read for hours, unaware that what I was doing was really reading. I started when I was three to four years old. I just read letters like they’re abstract objects. I didn’t bother to understand what they were. Later I began to take interest in the things I read. I read books, magazines, newspapers, anything I could get my hands on.
It felt gratifying, discovering things in the process. I found out how powerful reading is and eventually it became part of my personal culture. I became aware that reading is good. I became addicted to it. I was very careful though. I was afraid that I would fall into a trap of false knowledge and lies because I used to hear people say, “If you read, read the books on morality or those that connect you to your God”.
Frankly, I am dependent both on my reading and on my observations of things when I do my writing. I read to confirm facts, truths, and lies. So, it might not be boring to me. Reading connects me to my past and guides me as I reconnect my present to my past. It gives me strength to be powerful in my own way by creating a peaceful environment so I could be powerless again. Power here doesn’t mean direct physical power but power to recreate an oasis of knowledge and thoughts.
My way to counter boredom, I kept on reading and reading. Reading helped me weigh which one is heavy, which one is light. It also taught me to understand truths from lies, facts that are not true from truth that are not facts. Little did I know reading is not only a skill or an act of going through pages of newspapers and books, silently or aloud, but also something that needs interpretation, understanding, explanation, and analysis.
Reading is boring. I know it. And books are boring if I don’t read, even just a word. It’s the same thing as writing. Writing is difficult if I don’t start writing even a single incomplete sentence or scribbling or creating asemic writing in my notebook. But it’s just how it is. What I do, I connect my reading with my writing. If I don’t read, I will just be going round and round, unable to come up with anything sensible when I write.
I agree that reading is something that fights boredom, although, I too do believe that it could be boring depending on how I deal with it. “Reading is boring” is a phrase that agitates my mind and disturbs my brain cells. Reading was not part of my culture back then. I read only because I needed to read to prepare for exams at school. In our family, I was taught “to study”, never “to read”. I didn’t realize studying involves a lot of reading.
We can acquire passion with reading out of its being boring. For instance, we can turn boredom into something fascinating by reading to learn the way other people live, their history and story and thoughts and ideals. I remind myself that when I am unsure about what to read, I should read something that keeps me connected to God, to myself, to the people around me and to those friends I never met in my entire life.
I treat reading and books as well as writing as my friends because it is through them that I can meet friends who may never be known to me. Those friends may not always be persons but also things and concepts I can talk to. When I am reading a book, it’s not me who is talking. It’s the book who is talking to me and it becomes the channel by which the author communicates with me, sharing knowledge through the pages I read.
Because I read today, I learned about my life, my language, my friends, my loved ones, my peace, even about my boredom. I have no reason not to read. The word “boring” is a very boring word. It’s the enemy of our souls and it kills the desire to learn and explore. I can even visit places without physically being there through reading.
Lastly, reading is my eyes, listening is my ears, but the psyche is still reading. So there is no escape in reading if we engage, take inspiration, and be truthful. I just don’t suggest reading if it makes us arrogant and turns us into followers of wasteful idealism through reading theories based on their own cultures. By reading, we can take what is good and evil but we should use our knowledge of evil to identify what is good. Let’s us all remember, by reading, learning and observing, we can identify that Sabah as our “tanah-air”, got it’s own land and sea, that is why it is composed of “tanah” and “air”, as we are its citizens are composed of sea-based people and land-based people. If we have sailors, we also have hunters. And they are our warriors.
Thank you so much for listening to this “boring” sharing. God bless us all!
Presented at the Youth-PREP Centre
Alamesra, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah,
7th April 2016
When typing and/or encoding a story, poem, journal or article, the word “writing” always appears in my subconscious. The questions that come into my mind are: “What is writing?”, “Writing is what?”, “Am I writing?” and “If indeed I am writing, am I writing well?
Despite having read many stories, novels, poems, articles, and journals written by different authors and writers around the world and despite being someone who is regularly engaged in creative writing, I still often stumble with the questions “What makes one a good writer?” and “What constitutes good writing?”
In trying to understand the phrases “good writer” and “good writing”, we all need to begin with the general questions “What is writing” and “Writing is what?”
Here are a few definitions of the word “writing” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary:
1. the act or process of one who writes: as
4. the occupation of a writer; especially : the profession of authorship
For me, to write is to inscribe a word or a sentence with a pen or pencil or to encode something into our smart phones or computers to make a story or present our ideas to others.
I can say that I am not new to writing because I’ve been doing it during my school years (my teachers asked me to), but I am very new to what is “good writing” and how to be “a good writer”. And “good writing” for me is very subjective.
I found writing to be a mix of many things. It is interesting, boring, easy, difficult, and challenging and to write, we have to deal with all its complexities, richness, and values.
Over the years I’ve been engaging myself with writing, or to be exact, typing into a smart phone or computer. I realized that:
Writing is our natural reaction to something.
It is our reaction to any social issue(s) happening in our society and that we write for a particular purpose and audience.
At first we don’t need to be so caught up with the appropriateness of words, grammar, and punctuations. In most times, this can hinder creativity. We should focus instead on planning as to what genre we will be writing in: poetry, novel, narratives or feature or news articles. Later, we edit, proofread and reread before posting or publishing our work.
We can write whatever we like.
We can write for children, teens, and adults and for whatever topics we like in any languages and genres.
It’s good to write for a cause, although we don’t really need to be limited to it. We can even write for pleasure and happiness, as long as it is not to incite hatred and hate. It is up to us how to turn a word into a good sentence, then a good story.
Writing is not teaching.
We don’t write to teach people but to state issues, facts and problems that need solutions. As we do so, we should constantly rewrite to clarify the message that we want to tell our audiences. Our writing creates a message that could help transform our society into something good or something stimulating. Ultimately though, the value of what we do still depends upon how our readers and audiences perceive our message or react to it.
Most of the time, I write to document events, situations, feelings and observations.
Now, we have to know what makes a good writing, because what makes a writer a good one depends upon the writing itself. At this point, we’ll learn to write a poem. What I am going to share is but a small slice of a bigger writing pie. Still, I hope they will be useful for you.
As you all know already, poems and poetry are our poesy. They are an art of expression in composition. Poesy is where our Malay word ‘Puisi’ comes from.
Ideas for writing poetry could come from anywhere. We can get ideas by observing our world, either intrapersonal or interpersonal. We may write to communicate with readers or generate emotional reactions from them. We may also write just to capture our feelings or experiences.
The most difficult problem in writing comes when we don’t start writing what we have in mind. Remember, our minds cannot write. We should always write down our ideas before they vanish into the air.
But how do we write?
Writing poems varies from person to person. There are no rules or definite ways to do it. But there are techniques and recommended steps which you may consider useful.
In the following section, we’ll try to learn these steps along with a few examples from my own work. (I have written many pieces of poetry. I don’t know if they’re good or not, but I am going to use them as examples here just to help explain a few points.)
1. Identify the subject
We can’t write anything without first identifying what our subject is. Do we want to write about any particular social issue-- pollution, killing, discrimination, corruption? We can research or read, but many times, our subject will find us, especially when we are feeling the situations and witnessing events happening in our surroundings. Our subject might be derived from a theme, idea or opinion.
2. Create a new thing
When I say creating a new thing, I mean avoiding the use of cliches -words or phrases that have been used and written by poets and writers many times before, like “no man is an island.” A poet must be creative enough to find something new and interesting.
3. Describe or use imagery
Our five senses--sight, smell, hear, touch and taste--could be helpful in poetry writing. English Professor Peg Lauber added a sixth sense known as motion and advises poets to “be a painter in words”. Let our eyes capture the picture the way a camera captures phrase. Always remember the phrase: “Show, don’t tell”, which means describe the subject, because ‘telling’ is killing your message. It’s better if our poetry comes with metaphor and simile.
Show, don’t tell.
“She shines like a canvass
of blooming roses
in different colors.”
“I did cross the rivers, many times
and I am watching eagerly.”
“they danced in this
romantic garden of birds...
and then, they fly.”
“They only enjoyed my voice
and its melodious longing.”
“Peace is as common as candies.
I want to taste even just a piece of it.”
“I don't feel fresh this morning
not like a blooming rose.”
“smell like hell
sniffing this you can let go of evil.”
4. Don’t be framed with rhymes
Although rhymes in general are good, they can sometimes limit the artistic value and destruct the quality of our poetry. Whether or not we should use rhymes depends upon what we want to write. We can choose between rhythmical and non-rhythmical (free verse) poetry.
“the rivers dance gracefully,
and I am watching eagerly”.
“I can only see the dark
that’s when there is a light”.
5. Always follow the three Rs
Be persevering. Let’s not be too excited to publish our poetry. If we have friends, let
them read and comment first. That, after we’ve read, reread, revised our own work.
After finishing with our writing, we always ask ourselves: Is our article, poetry, novel, short story good enough? Don’t worry. At least we did our best. Let the readers be the judge. As long as we worked hard to write, it is already good, perhaps even the best.
Lastly, be always prepared with criticism. Not everyone can be pleased. In stories, it is simply not good if there is no conflict between protagonists and antagonists. Everything always comes with opposite.
Thank you all for your perseverance!
And thank you, YPC, for organizing this sharing session.
(From a workshop I conducted at the KK Asylum on October 1, 2016)
Poetry, for many, is probably not as important as other things to deal with in life. It doesn’t make one rich. Which is true, if one thinks of richness only in terms of money. But for me, a rich person is one who is able to touch other people’s lives positively, one who is able to make himself/herself useful to society.
I actually know of some people who still think of poetry (and art and literature in general) as “stupid” endeavours. I feel sad for them.
They probably do not know that poetry plays a major role in shaping our humanity. Without poetry, we’d be reduced to mere creatures without souls.
Poetry can cure illness, political chaos, and social stigma, even personal depression. Poetry gives us an avenue to express our actions, characters, the chronology of events, times and history, experiences, settings, and our motives in our lives. Most of all, it allows us to touch other people's lives.
Poetry as we all know is also called poesy from which our Malay word “puisi” originates.
Poetry is not just an art. It's beyond art.
Poetry allows us to access different things that happen in our lives. Its power reinforces our desire to change, our desire to be the catalyst of change. To me, it is intellectual “insanity” that drives us to create changes to ourselves and others.
We are here today because we want to share how poetry has touched our lives. There are many of us. So we have many stories to listen to.
Don’t hesitate. We don’t really need to be poets per se in order to write poetry. What makes one a poet is just what poetry makes him one. Poetry is within us, it is us, and it is all around us. Eventually, poetry makes us even richer than others once we make it a channel and outlet towards something good.
Poetry can be shouting for some, can be voicing hatred, can be making other things fight. But it is also making hate melt and evaporate like smoke going up and disappearing through air.
Also remember, we write not to compete with others. Poetry is beyond that--far, far beyond egos that often afflict us human beings. And being a poet is not simply our choice. It has been fixed by the Supreme Being because we all have roles and responsibilities in this society. (Please, please and please let’s not forget to read about society. If not by reading books, by looking and observing ourselves inside and out--who are we to others, who others are to us. In the process, let’s question ourselves if we are good enough to look down upon others.)
In poetry writing, let’s not find ourselves in our poetry; instead let our poetry find itself in ourselves. And please stop making poetry too poetical, poetry is poetical enough.
Now. Get one ringgit bill, and then create something out of it. What do you see and feel? Find your own voices from others. Hear the voices of their hearts and your hearts. Speak the truth even it is falsified. We don't need to be brave to speak our hearts out; we only need a brain to say it through our keyboards and pens.
Poetry is also a critic to ourselves, even if we are the ones speaking and writing.
Writing poetry is not fixed, but the causes and purposes are. It’s not necessary for a poem to be beautiful per se; ugliness can also be its beauty. It also doesn’t need to be academic, because academics can also diminish the thrash of poetry. Academics and the thrash of poetry compliment each other. Perhaps, there can never be a study that comes out without listening to this trash of poetry. It’s us that give meaning and life to poetry. An extraordinary poem is just an ordinary one if it doesn’t capture the agony and happiness of readers. And what makes it extraordinary is its ordinariness.
Poetry is a synoptic or a tiny novel. It’s also a laconic and subtle expression that pierces through our psyche, our souls, minds and spirit. Writing poetry is telling a story in a shorter manner. You have all key elements similar to writing stories: action, character, chronology, experience, setting, and motive. Writing poetry is reporting, like the “One Husband and Five Wives “ method or the “NEWS” method. And it is complemented with five senses--sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste.
As I sailed through the rough seas of poetry or poesy writing, I learned to name my sails as ACCESM.
In Malay I call it TIWAKPETEMO, a portmanteau of Tindakan, Watak, Kronologi, Pengalaman, Tetapan and Motif. That is why poetry writing is a significant part of our study. Poetry comes with love, romance and humanity. It signifies the joy of being us today, living our lives.
Thank you so much. I love you, peace. Let’s sail together. Layag Sug!
Nelson Dino. Tau Sug inside and out. Former university lecturer. Peace fighter. Loves writing, taking photos, researching things.
To get in touch, email email@example.com.