Amaya is the first and only Philippine historical, epic drama series that premiered on May 30, 2011 and recently ended on January 13, 2011 on the GMA Network.

Synopsis

Set in the early 16th century prior to the Spanish occupation when the Philippines was still divided into several city-states and minor kingdoms, the primetime television series chronicles the life of Amaya, a daughter of a Datu and a slave, prophecized to be the one who would defeat the fierce Rajah Mangubat. Born as a princess, she was demoted to slave status as Rajah Mangubat slayed her father. Guided by her kambal-ahas, she embarks on a journey to avenge her father’s death and eventually to defeat the person that has been the root cause of her misery and the downfall of her beloved land. With these, she must climb the social ladder, from being a slave, to being an alabay, to become a tribe leader, then a warrior, and eventually fulfill her destiny to become the most powerful woman of her time.

Plot

In Central Visayas, during the early 1500s, Rajah Mangubat is the King of a great kingdom or a “puod” (a collection of city states called “banwa”). He was known throughout the land as a great undefeated warrior. He had a reputation as a ruthless warrior with extraordinary skills in battle, and with his great strength, no one stood a chance against him.

One day, during one of Rajah Mangubat’s “pangangayaw” or expedition to turn other villages into one of his colonies, he met a “babaylan” or priestess who prophecized that one day, he would be killed by a warrior who had a snake for a twin. Also, the warrior with the snake for a twin will become the most powerful person of their time. The warrior shall be born on the next lunar eclipse. Enraged by her prophecy, Rajah Mangubat kills the Babaylan.

After seeing the fruition of the lunar eclipse, Rajah Mangubat becomes anxious over his killer, who has a snake for a twin. With this, he orders his warriors to kill all pregnant women in his puod and attack the neighboring islands as well. The only village that survives Rajah Mangubat’s terror is Datu Bugna’s banwa because of their long time friendship and alliance (A Datu is a Chief of the banwa). Datu Bugna hid all pregnant women and newborns in his banwa to save his people.

What Rajah Mangubat doesn’t know is that a baby girl in Datu Bugna’s banwa has been born on the night of the eclipse. The baby girl is the warrior he has been looking for to be killed. The girl with the snake for a twin is named Amaya and is Datu Bugna’s daughter from Dal’lang, an “uripon” or a slave that was Datu Bugna’s true love but could not be with because of their different social classes. Amaya’s twin snake is an “umalagad” or the spirit of one of their ancestors from the afterlife. In order to protect his daughter, while Amaya is still an infant, Datu Bugna orders his men to separate Amaya from her mother and hide his daughter in a secret chamber in the royal house called a “bukot”. Amaya became a “binukot” or a special kind of “ba-i” or princess. A binukot is different from ordinary princesses because they are separated and hidden from everyone else to preserve their beauty and cannot step on the earth to preserve their purity. At the same time, her snake twin is released into the forest and is told that it may only come back if and when Amaya is in dire need of help. Amaya as a binukot was taught reading, writing, counting, the arts, music and sword fighting by her father.

While growing up Datu Bugna tells Amaya that her mother, Dal’lang, is already dead. What Bugna does not know is that his jealous wife, Lamitan sold Dal’ang to another island but she escaped and is living in hiding in a far away land hoping to one day see her daughter again. Inside the “bukot”, Amaya is with her half-sisters and fellow binukots. The first was Marikit, who is jealous of all the attention Amaya is getting from their father. She also happens to be Lamitan’s favorite daughter. The other one was Binayaan, Marikit’s younger sister who finds comfort with Amaya since her mother, Lamitan doesn’t want her because Lamitan was expecting a male heir (only men could rule at the time).

When Amaya was still a young girl, she was kidnapped by an uripon paid by Lamitan and she was threatened to be killed. But her twin snake came and killed the uripon. During this time, she meet the young Bagani who was the successor of Rajah Mangubat’s throne. Bagani took her back to her own village by carrying her.

Years pass and Amaya has grown to a very beautiful binukot. Because of Lamitan’s evil desire to get rid of Amaya and her hate to her husband who truly loves Dal’ang, she betrays her husband and tells Rajah Mangubat her husband’s plan of revolt with the other Datus against Mangubat’s merciless rule. Lamitan also started sucking up with Mangubat to improve her social status in Mangubat’s puod. Rajah Mangubat’s men take Amaya from her chamber and use her as blackmail to make Datu Bugna confess. He eventually does confess and Rajah Mangubat kills him in front of Amaya.

Rajah Mangubat takes Amaya to his village and there, Lamitan literally stripped her of her clothes and her right as a princess and made an uripon. Amaya sees the treacherous Lamitan’s true character and becomes enraged with her father’s double-crossing wife. She promises that she will do anything to avenge her father from Rajah Mangubat and especially Lamitan. But Rajah Mangubat still has no idea about Amaya’s true identity – the warrior with a snake as a twin.

Amaya is surprised to see her long lost love, Bagani, but is devastated to find out that he is Rajah Mangubat’s son and heir. Bagani is shocked as well when he finds out that the girl he once fell in love with is now a slave. In spite of this, he still remains in love with her. However, Amaya tries to get rid of her feelings for him all for her plan’s sake.

Bagani tries to protect Amaya with all of his power from all the cruelties of Marikit and Lamitan. He was forced to marry Marikit to be able to save Amaya. With the help of her snake twin, Amaya became an “alabay” or an apprentice to became a Babaylan. She studied folk medicine, religious rituals and traditions earnestly because she wants to become a Babaylan, hearing that she will have a higher status if she becomes a Babaylan (since babaylans were given high regard in society). When the plan to assassinate Bagani failed, Amaya was the only one who was able to cure Bagani, thus gaining her rank as the “Punong Alabay” or Head Apprentice. Amaya learned that the “Punong Babaylan” or High Priestess’ grandson, Angaway, was behind the assassination of Bagani, she warns Bagani that they were planning a revolt against Mangubat and his heir.

But Angaway was faster, he revealed that Bagani’s very first “batuk” or tattoo symbolizing a person’s accomplishments was a fraud. He revealed that the task to kill a man for Bagani to earn his first batuk was not done. Instead, Bagani let the man free out of conscience. Bagani was stripped of his title as the successor and he became an outcast. Fortunately, he reached the banwa of the man he saved. The man turned to be a Datu himself named Bulang. Bagani was welcomed with open arms by the grateful Datu. There in the banwa, Bagani’s metamorphosis happened. From being a weakling and a push-over, he trained to become a fierce warrior and a wise leader.

Lamitan on the other hand forced Marikit to become the “sandil” or a concubine of the Rajah against Marikit’s wishes so that they will gain power again in the puod. They lost influence when Bagani was cast out and affected Lamitan and Marikit’s social standing. This made Marikit have severe depression but the greedy Lamitan forced her daughter to take “chandu” or opium to make her follow her. This ruined Marikit’s mind. Amaya took pity with Marikit and healed her back to health and this made Marikit see her mother’s true colors and her greed for power. Marikit was taken away by her aunt, Mantal to another banwa. Mantal was a cohort of Lamitan but because of this incident also saw her sister’s true colors.

Lamitan is losing power in the puod but lucky for her, she discovered and revealed to everyone that Amaya is the warrior in the prophecy, when she revealed the snake. They were shocked that the warrior in the prophecy was a woman. Amaya was forced to go in hiding. The Rajah is starting to lose faith in Lamitan and sees her as a double crosser. Lamitan started losing faith in the Rajah and feels her hold on his power was slipping so she sided with the secret rebellion lead by Angaway.

On the day of the rebellion, Amaya returned to the puod to talk to the Rajah that she has clear intentions and meant no harm but the paranoid Rajah who thinks that the rebellion was Amaya’s plan attacked Amaya. Amaya accidentally kills Rajah Mangubat and the prophecy was done. Angaway became Rajah and Lamitan became his chief adviser. This sent confusion and political and economic turmoil in all of Rajah Mangubat’s former colonies.

Bagani, finds out that the girl he loved killed his father. Enraged, he sets out to find Amaya to avenge his father but his love still overcame his thirst for revenge. Bagani became a datu of the banwa after Bulang died. He learned that Binayaan (now called Yang Tersayang) was living in that banwa as well. Binayaan during the faithful day of their village’s destruction in the hands of Mangubat, escaped and met the mother of Amaya, Dal’ang. She knew that she is Amaya’s mother but because she yearns for affection pretended to be Amaya.

Amaya on the other hand became an outcast and was blamed for all the turmoil. Lamitan created an image of Amaya as an evil person in the minds of the public. Amaya thinks that her love, Bagani will never forgive her for what she has done with the Rajah. She ended up in a village of the Lumads. The Lumads were closed minded and closed their doors from outsiders. She opened their eyes to education and progress and taught them what she knew. She also learned advanced combat from the Lumads. She gained their favor and the love of the Lumad chief’s son, Dayaw. She tried to move on by trying to love Dayaw but still she loves Bagani.

Her reputation was cleaned when the other islands learned that she was caring and loving not like the picture Lamitan painted in the public’s mind. Bagani, Binayaan and Amaya’s paths crossed when Amaya tried to find a new village to stay. Bagani is now betrothed to Binayaan but Bagani clearly still loves Amaya. Binayaan’s lies were also discovered. Dal’ang was furious but Amaya understood Binayaan and Dal’ang accepted Amaya and Binayaan as her daughters. Even though it hurt her, Binayaan let Amaya and Bagani become together. She knew Bagani will always love Amaya.

They planned a revolt to take back the entire puod from Angaway and put Bagani as the rightful Rajah. They lead an attack that killed Angaway but the village and the colonies are still not fully theirs. Lamitan used this chance live her dream and proclaim herself as leader of the puod, since she was second in power to Angaway. This was never heard of at the time. There was never a woman as Rajah before. Lamitan bribed the soldiers and threatened the council to proclaim her leader but still they did not give her the title Hara or queen. All the villages under her power were under martial law. Lamitan frightened the people with the use of a “Panagang” (Amulet or Charm) from the babaylans so they would be obedient to her by making it seem she is invincible and she has direct connection to Heaven.

Amaya along with Bagani, and Marikit, who married another datu, combined their armies to finally stop Lamitan. They were successful but there were many casualties including Dayaw and Binayaan. They proclaimed Bagani as Rajah. Amaya sentenced Lamitan to death upon request of Marikit. Lamitan was attacked by the mob but used a little girl, Alunsina, as a hostage. She rode a boat to the sea to flee but Amaya was finally able to walk on water with the knowledge she knew from being a babaylan. Amaya then called Bakunawa (A giant sea serpent in Philippine folklore.) from the sea’s depths to put an end to Lamitan. Bakunawa then devoured Lamitan. Amaya managed to save the girl. Lamitan woke in the afterlife being tormented by the souls of all the people who died because of her.

Because of her wondrous achievements, Amaya was called the most powerful woman of her time. They made many changes in the puod like giving rights to slaves to become “timawa” or free men after they paid their debts and equal opportunities in education and business. Despite this and freeing the Puod from threats, Amaya and Bagani were needed by their people so their love was once a again put to a halt. Rajah Bagani became a wise leader and warrior. Amaya stayed away from Bagani for many years to focus on her puod and Bagani did likewise. Amaya was one of the first women to actually lead a puod, a real Hara or queen that rule people and not just a consort of the king. When Bagani’s brother Banuk became a grown man, Banuk asked Bagani to make him Rajah knowing his brother Bagani has sacrificed so much and that the time has come for Amaya and him to be together at last. Bagani went to Amaya’s puod and stayed by Amaya’s side but to his surprise, he met their son named Bugna and finally became a family. It was said that Amaya and Bagani died together at the same time, hand in hand.

It was shown that the whole series was just a flashback told to the younger generation by now an older Alunsina, the girl that Amaya saved. Alunsina, now the Punong Babaylan (Chief Priestess) foresaw the coming of foreigners. Spanish ships were coming to the islands signaling the end of Ancient Philippine History and the coming of the Age of Spanish colonization. Alunsina said that the foreigners will be successful in conquering all the islands and that their power was nothing that they saw before. But she said that one day, new Amayas and Baganis will rise and one day the islands will be actually free and the people of the future will know the story of the people of the past, since a person who do not know his history will have no future.

About The Author

Executive Editor & Founder

Ligaya is the Executive Editor & Writer at Pinoy-Culture.com. She lives in NYC with her two dogs and spends her time reading, writing, collecting and buying books online and in safe haven, Strand Bookstore, watching her guilty tv show pleasure Vikings, and overdosing herself in coffee as a certified caffeine addict. Her book, Diwatahan: A Look Into the Precolonial Beliefs, Practices, Myths, & Folklore of the Philippines, is currently in progress and is scheduled to be published in Summer of 2017.

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