Datu Sumakuel and His Unfaithful Wife, Kapinañgan

Monday June 16, 2014 ()

Before settling in Hantic as paramount Datu of Madia-as or Panay, Datu Sumakuel explored the mountain region back of Oton and Tigbalang, and with him went the priest of Borneo named Bagot-banua who bore the name of being a soothsayer. During his absence, the settlement at Malandug was under the rule of his sacop, Gorong-gorong. The wife of the Datu, Kapinañgan, was young and giddy, and, as a consequence, the treacherous Gorong-gorong became in love with her. She returned this love, but the facts in the case remained a secret between themselves, for the settlers and slaves were busily engaged in the clearing of lands, and the laying up of supplies of dried fish, roots, and tubers, as well as the dried meat of the game which abounded close to the settlement.

Datu Sumakuel and His Unfaithful Wife, Kapinañgan

While striving to reach the mountain called Madia-as, where dwelt according to tradition the god Bulalakao, the soothsayer informed the Datu that his wife was untrue to him, having seen this in a dream. Upon their return to Malandug, Sumakuel dissembled, saying nothing until the facts in the case were proved, after which he resolved to sentence her to death according to Bornean custom. After a short stay, therefore, he ordered his wife to prepare supplies for another expedition to the mountains, which he declared was to last some time, sending ahead the main party under Bagot-banua to await him on the Malangas river. He himself was to start before midnight.

Kapinañgan secretly informed her lover Gorong-gorong of this, and he, shortly after Datu Sumakuel's departure that night, came to the house and entered, the woman having sent away all the slaves to the other houses in the kampong. Sumakuel had however, instead of leaving, mounted to the roof of the house, where through a hole made in the grass thatch, he watched and heard all that went on below. With him he had his great hunting spear or bankao, sharp as a razor, similar to those spears a number of which, following Malay custom, were always hanging from the roof-tree in every chief's house in instant readiness. Below the wife and lover talked over the happy chance that allowed them to meet in the absence of Sumakuel, who heard every threat and word, pale with rage.

Shortly after the torches were removed and at the very moment his sacop Gorong-Gorong turned toward the woman with a laugh, the Datu dropped his spear with such good aim as to completely transfix the betrayer of his honor, from side to side. So silent had his movements been that neither Kapinañgan nor her lover had the slightest suspicion that the fall of the spear was not accidental. The woman silently wept over the fact that she had not previously asked her husband to remove the weapons to another part of the house, and thought that if only this had happened to him how happy she would have been. Meanwhile, mortally wounded, Gorong-gorong died without an outcry. Sumakuel desired to leap on his false consort with fury, but waited to see what she would do.

Kindling a torch of resin and palm-leaves from the embers, she faced the task of removing the body of her slain lover and burying it without being discovered. She first rolled the dead man in the mat, but he being a strong and heavy individual she was unable to carry the corpse. She then had recourse to dismembering the body and carried it away in bundles throwing it into an estuary of the river where it could become the prey of the crocodiles, peculiarly dreaded as a means of disposal of the body by the Malays, but a fate which she could not very well avoid for her lover. She then cleaned up the blood, and, seating herself by the fire, awaited the dawn.

As for Datu Sumakuel, as soon as she left the house with her first burden, he descended from the roof and joined the party awaiting him under Bagot-banua, returning some days later as if nothing had happened. None knew of the tragedy except the Datu and his wife, for the disappearance of a sacop or a slave was nothing out of the ordinary as the power of life and death lay with the Datu himself and Gorong-gorong possessed no relative to make inquiries.

The day after his return Datu Sumakuel called his men for a fishing trip which was so successful that the large quantities taken had to be dried and salted. While all were busy at the task, he chose some of the finest and took them home. He ordered Kapinañgan to cut up and prepare a meal for him. She, however, demurred saying it was a work for slaves or servants, that furthermore she did not know how to cut up such large fish, and making other excuses. The Datu replied that he wanted a meal cooked by her hands, but his wife insisted angrily that she did not know how to cut up the fish. Fixing his piercing gaze upon her, Sumakuel coldly replied she had better begin her task, for if she knew how to cut up a dead man, she could very well cut up a fish.

Hearing this indirect statement of his knowledge, she remained for a moment petrified with terror, after which she busied herself in preparing a meal, but without lifting her head to meet his gaze; both, however, watching each other's movements. The Datu ate the food, merely saying that the fish did not resent being cut up to make a meal, and telling her to remain close to the house. Upon the return of the fishing party, he chose three of the elders and put the story to them without the mention of any name, and asked if custom should be followed in such a case. They all agreed it should, after which he enlightened them as to who were the principals. The punishment was that of being buried alive in a distant place in the forest, but inasmuch as they had only recently bought Panay from Marikudo, the Negrito chief, Sumakuel resolved that she should not be allowed to be punished on the island.

The trial followed and the sentence given by the Datu was that Kapinañgan should be taken out in a banca into the strait and there sunk by loading stones into the boat from the others. The Datu sent his trusted men to do this, remaining according to custom shut up in his house. But the men taking compassion in the tears and youth of Kapinañgan, instead of carrying out the order, conveyed her to a barren island without food or water and left her there to die, informing Sumakuel, however, that they had first wrapped her in a net, then filled the boat full of stones, and thus drowned her.

Some years after the supposed death of Kapinañgan, the Datu who had taken no other wife, being saddened by his experience, sailed on an expedition in search of seeds and plants for the new lands now under cultivation in Hantic. Running into bad weather, they made a landfall on an unknown island north of Guimaras. Landing, they saw a small house under a grove of coconuts, and leaning from the window a wo man remarkably like the former wife of the Datu. Knowing how such memories would be distasteful to their chief, they did not, however, mention the fact, when they returned with supplies which they had purchased from her servants for the refreshment of the expedition.

Before they had approached the house, they had been met by an armed Negrito who under questioning informed them that the woman was not an aborigine, but, having appeared one day from parts unknown, she was treated with respect, given servants and supplies by his master, the headman of the Negritos of the island, and that her name was Aloyon. The guard in turn informed Aloyon of the name and rank of Sumakuel and of his search for seeds for his plantation, and the landing for supplies to enable him and his party to continue the voyage. Reassured by this, Aloyon, who was none other than Kapinañgan, shaved her eyebrows and altered her features by means of keeping wax between her lips and gums so she would not be recognized.

Kapinañgan now invited the Datu and his chief men to avail himself of her house and its abundant supplies. The invitation was accepted and a feast made for the event. The smoky light of the torches hid to a certain extent the features of Aloyon as she had mats spread for the chief and his suite. They remained for some days on the island, hunting and laying in supplies, and the Datu became intrigued with the woman who so closely resembled the wife he had sentenced to death. His suite, seeing this preference, approached him through Lubao, a confidential sacop, saying it would be a good thing if he would take Aloyon for a wife. But the Datu replied that he did not care to marry after his bitter experience.

Still his retainers were convinced it would be a good match, resolved to aid the god of love as far as they could, and chose Da-ay, the only musician of the barangay, to use his arts on both of them. At dawn they were awakened by the melancholy notes of the lantoy, and a chorus repeated the rowing and hunting songs of the land of their birth, while in the evening under the coco-palms they sang the songs of love and war, arousing sad memories of days in Borneo. The serenade continued during the whole night so that neither of the principals were able to sleep. Dawn found Aloyon in tears, and, Sumakuel asking the reason, she replied that she sorrowed not for the past but for the future when she would be left alone again. The Datu replied that he would not leave till her tears were dried, to which she made answer that, being tears from the heart, they refused to dry.

Seeing that she was bent on uniting herself to his fortunes, and bearing such a resemblance to Kapinañgan, and not being averse himself, he assented to a marriage between them, first sending a slave to the barangay for a necklace of golden beads. As he encircled her neck with the gift, the whole crew burst into loud shouts of approval and with waving palm branches took up the marriage chant, together with the lantoy of Da-ay, whose cunning fingers had brought the event about. As for her story, she said that she had been cast ashore from a boat and that she had lived on the island ever since, which satisfied their questions. The island was called Dapulo or Dampulu.

Three days later they left the island with a stock of provisions, and, sailing north, saw a boat coming towards them. This was the barangay of Datu Bankaya who had been left in charge of the settlement of Malandug, but who, also seeking supplies and seed, had called at an island called Kamosin. While there, his wife, the sister of Samakuel, Katurong, had mysteriously disappeared and they were in search of her.

Both barangays sailed to the north, landing on the island of Biri. Samakuel and Bankaya took their men into the mountains to hunt, leaving Aloyon and some of the slaves with the barangayes on the beach. Among the possessions of Datu Sumakuel was a fighting cock which had a peculiar crow. This rooster, answering the wild chickens of the jungle, was recognized by its peculiar crow by the lost Katurong, the sister of Sumakuel and the wife of Datu Bankaya, who thereupon made her way to the boats drawn up on the shore.

She emerged from the jungle and approached them, and with the keener discernment of women immediately recognized Aloyon as Kapinañgan. Katurong's story was that while she was bathing in a small tidal creek she had been seized by a crocodile. The reptile, bearing off its prey in its mouth, was carried by the tide out to sea and released its victim in its extremity. She had floated ashore on Biri. Not to be outdone, Aloyon stated that being thrown overboard from the death banca, she had been rescued by a merman and had been taken to Dampulo, where, meeting Sumakuel, he had courted and married her without knowing she was Kapinañgan. They both agreed to stick to their stories and to guard each other's secret, which was done easily as none of the slaves had seen Katurong come to the barangay, being close by fishing the reefs for crabs and shell-fish.

Sometime after midday the Datus arrived bearing a quantity of game, and Katurong ran joyfully to meet Bankaya who tearfully related her story, while he in turn was overjoyed to have found her. Later, the natives of the island brought to them large quantities of the seeds of the sibucao, palma-brava, anahao, buri, and various vegetables so as to provide stock for the seeding of their plantations. On other islands they loaded a quantity of coconuts into the boats, and, passing by the isle of Romrom (Romblon), they planted many of them as the boats were overloaded, and these formed the nucleus of the island's present prosperity, as much later they were planted all over the island.

After a voyage of five months, it being near the end of the year 1394, they returned to the settlement of Malandug where they found the five Datus, their companions from Borneo, awaiting them. Later a division of the island of Madia-as or Panay was made, the three chief Datus taking over the provinces of Hantic, Aklan, and Irong-irong as their respective districts, after which a barangay was dispatched to Brunei inviting more of their countrymen to come and settle in the fertile islands of the Visayas. Datu Sumakuel lived contently with Aloyon till his death, without learning that she was the wife he had sentenced to death for infidelity, thus proving the old adage, "Where ignorance is bliss, it is folly to be wise."


  1. Philippine Magazine, Volume 28, Number 3, August 1930, Philippine Education Company, Manila


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