Reflecting on talinhaga or metaphors, imageries and signs is not simply a process of thinking but a part of a whole lifestyle anchored in prayer and devotion. This is true not only for the Filipino revolutionaries who appeared to be fanatics to the Spanish and American forces because they attacked the gun-men of their colonizers with nothing but blow-pipes, arrows and bolos.
The invaders did not know that the final actions of these Filipinos were, as described by historian Reynaldo Ileto in his classic book Pasyon and Revolution: “…the total orientation of one’s being toward an order of reality in which the disruption of one’s ‘normal’ role in society, including death itself, was a distinct possibility. It was a conscious act of realizing certain possibilities of existence... through reflection upon certain mysteries and signs.”
Through pakiramdam or shared inner perception, the Filipino bayani picked up signs and cues— not only from the text of the Pasyon, which they recited collectively, but also from nature and from each other.
Even today, these signs are all around us, but it takes a certain kind of openness and sensitivity to recognize them and respond to them.
Understanding talinhaga has a lot to do with listening to the environment. Words are still relatively young on this planet, where language had split man from Mother Earth. But the environment talks in many different ways like colors, sounds, movements, or spontaneous events and others.
The lumads and the culture-bearing artists sure know how to read signs from the environment. From this practice, they build their sampalataya, a strong belief and personal conviction, which (according to Reynaldo Ileto) is often spiritual in nature. A person acting on sampalataya does not consult the intellect, but is driven by deep or tacit feelings.
It is their duty of the culture bearers to interpret to us through their art what the environment says.