A Cebuano performing art form known as Kulilising Hari was performed last February 11 at the Capitol Social Hall as part of the celebration of the Cebu Arts and Culture Month. The drama was staged by some known veteran players of KulilisingHari that drew admiration from the crowd for its unique portrayal of performance.
The performers were Eking Gutierrez, Lorna Gan, Jun Juezan, PrecyRaganas, FloroLauron and DitoPana.
Arts and Culture Committee Chairman Miguel A. Magpale and Co-chairmanHon. Arleigh C. Sitoychorused, “The aim of this activity is to expose present-day Cebuanos to the cultural practices of ourancestorsand make them aware of ourcultural identity.”
Brief History of Kulilising Hari
KulilisingHari is one of the traditional cultural practices usually held in rural Cebuano houses when somebody passes away. This is usually done after the prayer for the dead has been said where visitors, composed of relatives, neighbors and even strangers, gather around for a brief socialization.
Somebody, typically an elderly person, shouts “Kulilising Hari! Kulilising Hari!”. Everyone looks at the person who then positions himself with the rest of the visitors who will participate in forming a circle or semi-circle then proceed to sing the traditional kulilisi song.
While singing, the group or “kulisador” passes on a balled handkerchief and when the song stops, the fellow holding the handkerchief is obliged to contribute a rhymed “balak” or a Cebuano poem on an agreed topic or theme. If the fellow fails to do so, he is “punished”. Punishment is usually light and amusing such as drinking a few glasses of “tuba” or answering a personal question.
An interesting feature of a kulilisi is a “mock” visit of another elderly man from a neighboring “kingdom” or “embahada”. The visitors would position themselves at a distance from a house of a host leader. At that moment, someone would shout, “Kulilising Hari! Kulilising Hari!”. Everyone in the house would keep still and quiet as the exchange of “balak” ensues.
“Maayong hapon, saimo kamahalan, hari kang labing gamhanan…mahimo ba nimo akong tugutan sa pag-sulod sa imong gingharian?” (Good afternoon, your Highness and mighty King, may I enter your kingdom?)
“Sigurado, ako tikaw tugutan, apan batoniang maayong pamatasan. Kay tingali’g sa li-og mo ako ‘kawlungu-an!” (Certainly, I will permit you but be reminded that you have to pay some respect or I will cut your throat!)
“Ang ngalan ko si Felix Berto, amahan ko si Filipo ug ang igsoon ko si Felizardo, bisan ikaw halangdon, ginatahud og giyukbuan, kining pulong ko imo kining pamati-on, kay may tuyo ako kanimu ug kinahanglan…” (My name is Felix Berto, my father is Filipo and my brother is Felizardo, and even if you are honorable and esteemed, you need to listen to my words because I have a plea and a request from you.)
After an exchange of balak, the visitors are invited to enter the house and join the kulilisi.
That’s what goes on in the kulilisi, a cultural practice and uniquely Cebuano -dramatic and expressive of ethnic values. One is the value of sympathetic fellowship with the bereaved family while the other is a smooth interpersonal relationship and at the same time the love and appreciation of our native language and traditions. Heart Rizarri