THE Negros Museum spearheaded the highly anticipated launching of the book Song of Negros: Myths and Culture in the Philippines written by Ms. Victor Victoria Bantug Hoffarth last week.

Negros Cultural Foundation President Lyn Gamboa said that she believes that it is very important that generations of people document our history and culture.

Gamboa said this is to ensure the stories that are told were accurately preserved.

“We want to make sure also that the knowledge of our culture is understood by the generations to come,” she said.

Rene Sarmaniego, speaker of the event, said myths contain universal truths and wisdom.

Sarmaniego said, “it doesn’t matter which part of the globe we are in because its themes and motives are similar and therefore run across the most diverse of cultures.”

Serafin Plotria and Ms. Chona Gosiaoco, who served as lead researchers of the book, also shared their processes and experiences in their fieldwork and how they were able to collate mythical and legendary stories known to the Visayan culture.

For her part, Bantug-Hoffarth emphasized that she wanted to write easy-to-read stories and most importantly interpret what these stories mean for our daily lives.

The program ended with a reading of the first featured story in the book entitled “When the World Began.”

It was read by students from Murcia East Elementary School, University of Negros Occidental–Recoletos, and La Consolacion College-Bacolod. The story speaks of the famous legend of the creation of the world and how the first man and woman came about.

The book launch was also attended by Negros Occidental Third District Representative Francisco Benitez, Ray Bantug, Armita Bantug-Rufino, Paz Marie Valenciano heads and representatives of different academic institutions, friends from the media, tour guides, and visual artists.

The book includes fifteen artistically illustrated myths, stories, and folktales from the island of Negros, as well as an explanation of their significance to the culture of the provinces and the Philippines in general.

Given the collectivistic culture of the country, Hoffarth stressed that she embarks on a quest to capture such tales in Negros, describing the symbolic values as well as the underpinnings of these fifteen stories.

Hoffarth grew up in Victorias, Negros Occidental. She left her province in 1964 for university at Maryknoll College in Manila, then earned graduate degrees from Columbia University and New York University.

She is also the author of the book When Turtles Come Home: A Memoir on Life in the Philippines, and maintains a blog www.victoriahoffarth.com.