‘Super Ma’am’: Some Ilonggo Prehistoric Reflection

The visit of the GMA Television’s newest fantasy action “Super Ma’am” cast last October 19, 2017 Bacolod Charter Day observance brought to fore the return of Marian Rivera back to work after dedicating herself to certain maternal hiatus.

The cast of a 2017 Philippine TV’s Drama Action Fantasy series broadcasted by GMA Network Enrico Cuenca, Ashley Ortega, Marian Rivera, and Matthias Rhoads. They were here in Bacolod City for a press interview and a mall show last October 19, 2017.* (Photo by James Toga)

Joining Ms. Rivera (Minerva Henerala) in a press interview were Matthias Rhoads (Trevor Jones), Ashley Ortega (Kristy Garcia) and Enrico Cuenca (Jake).

She played a high school history teacher and was woven into an adventure with the prehistoric Ilonggo “Tamawo”, a composite element of the Ilonggo prehistoric core belief that continues to be told in stories that fascinates Filipinos of all ages.

The Tamawo intention was to present something new, something unique, something novel, Ms. Rivera explained, thus veering away from the stereotyped “aswang” as the antagonistic element in the development of the narrative conflict. Although the “aswang” as a Filipino socio-cultural phenomenon rather than a piece of blood-innards thirsty creature can be a good theme yet to be developed on screen. The presentation of the Tamawo in “Super Ma’am” is another excellent piece to recall a portion of the Ilonggo cultural history.

The existence of the Tamawo as an Ilonggo is grounded on the belief of an invisible realm at a community’s peripheral areas like caves, thickets, forest, rivers, mountain and seas – called “mariit”. Panay’s immortal “Sugidanon” (epics) considered the seas as habitats for the most powerful beings. These beings are contextually limited as to their visible mobility but innovativeness transformed them to creatures capable of existence in contemporary settings challenging humans to intrigues, quarrels and duels; like the mythologically-based character of Thor in lethal gladiatorial duel with enemies. Looking at the design of “Super Ma’am” tamawos appear consistent with such beliefs.

Miss Rivera as Minerva Henerala was bitten by said creature but the story did not proceed like the traditional Transylvanian Dracula bite or the indigenous vampiric aswang saliva that cause victims to commence self-mutation or a genetic clone. Teacher Minerva Henerala instead became a school “ma’am” by day and a tamawo slayer by necessity. This recalls the women “Babaylan” divinely task to protect the community against sinister beings.

The Babaylan are women sought for their healing powers and profound spirituality institutionally destroyed by the Spanish colonizers.

Marian Rivera, as her title role “Super Ma’am” suggestively recalled said “Babaylanistic” role although creatively transformed as the “History Teacher” and that by such character likewise brought to fore heroism – they inspire, bring hope, fascinate, ignite imagination and instill a love for learning.

The “Super Ma’am” series premiered September 18, 2017 replacing Mulawin vs. Ravena and occupying the timeslot of Alyas Robin Hood on GMA Network’s Telebabad line-up. It is also airing worldwide through GMA Pinoy TV.*