King Sinukwan Mythology and the Kapampangan Psyche

Julieta Mallari


This paper focuses on the metaphorical categories of the Sinukwan legends that could account for the ethnocentric qualities of the Kapampangans (people of Pampanga, a province in the northern part of the Philippines) and their behavioral patterns as a distinct race. According to oral accounts, Sinukwan, supposedly the first inhabitant in Pampanga, was a noble, gigantic being whose countenance reflected beautiful traits such as royalty, wisdom, faithfulness, ability and love. Sinukwan is a product of the Kapampangans’ primordial culture but, in many respects, he serves as a central image in the maintenance of their internal racial affinity as well as in the interaction of their past and present. On one hand, he may be perceived as an instrument of sentimental evocation. But on the other, Sinukwan is an indispensable force in asserting and reasserting the Kapampangan identity. The Kapampangans still believe that their historical beginnings were woven into and their society constructed within the realm of a powerful cultural symbol. In the development of Kapampangan civilization, Sinukwan has become an established archetype in Kapampangan arts and literature, a rallying point in the socio-political transformation of the Kapampangan community, and the paradigmatic model that is constantly invoked in the unfolding events of Kapampangan history. To be mentioned in particular is an aspect of a Sinukwan legend that provides a colorful explanation of one of the worst calamities that struck Pampanga: the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. The story is, in a sense, an imaginative articulation of a historical phenomenon that pierced through the very heart of Kapampangan civilization and altered the course of its development.


sinukwan; kapampangan psyche; kapampangan history

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