The Riddle of the Fowl and the Eagle


  • Christian Jil Benitez Department of Filipino, Ateneo de Manila University



eco-Gothic, Tropical Gothic, Philippines, Culture, Nature


Alvin Yapan’s “The Riddle of the Fowl and the Eagle” (Filipino: “Ang Bugtong ng Manok at Agila”) teases at the boundaries between the cultural, the natural, and the supernatural, in order to foreground a contemporary Philippine conundrum that elucidates an ethical concern. The story questions what it is to be human, and what it means to be so in times that are rather inhumane. In the context of this text, this is simultaneously a concern with the meaning and value of animality. Through its rhythm, the text demonstrates a contemporary tropical consciousness that simultaneously navigates the individual and the collective so as to confront ecocritical anxieties and creating a story of the ecogothic. The translation of this text therefore opens this local tropical story to current discourses involved in analyzing global ecocritical predicaments.

Author Biography

Christian Jil Benitez, Department of Filipino, Ateneo de Manila University

Associate Professor Anita Lundberg is a cultural anthropologist whose research engages people and places of tropical Southeast Asia. She leads the research cluster Living Cities:Tropical Imaginaries. The cluster is concerned with the creative lived experiences of cities including cultural and natural landscapes, aesthetics, urban myths, flanerie, everyday life, liminal and cyber spaces. Anita’s previous projects include ethnographies of higher education in the Malay archipelago, the phenomenology of a Malay house and its garden of trees, and of a whaling hunting village in Indonesia. Anita is especially interested in developing a research-teaching-engagement nexus and her projects often engage students in international philanthropic projects, public talks and exhibitions. She has received awards for outstanding teaching, research supervision and innovative research and has held numerous fellowships: LIA TransOceanik (CNRS, Collége de France, JCU); The Cairns Institute (TCI); Post-Doctoral Fellow, Cambridge University, UK; Guest Researcher, Maison Asie-Pacifique, Université de Provence, France; Visiting Fellow, Institute of the Malay World and Civilization, National University Malaysia. She has also been an Anthropologist-in-Residence at Rimbun Dahan.


Buelva, A. J. (2016, Jan. 5). Purina’s “Puspins of Meownila” hightlights the good in local cats. MetroPets. Retrieved from

del Principe, D. (2014). Introduction: The EcoGothic in the Long Nineteenth Century, Gothic Studies 16(1), 1-8.

Diksiyunaryo-Tesauro Pilipino-Ingles. (1972). Quezon City, Philippines: Manlapaz Publishing, Co.

"Kalaw, A. G. (2007, Aug. 18). ‘Askal’ is out, ‘aspin’ is in. The Philippine Star. Retrieved from

Miller, F.P., McBrewster, J., & Vandome, A.F. (Eds.) (2009). Philippine Mythology. Riga: Alphascript Publishing.

Yapan, A. B. (2016). Sangkatauhan at Sangkahayupan. Quezon City, Philippines: Ateneo de Manila University Press.




How to Cite

Benitez, C. J. (2019). The Riddle of the Fowl and the Eagle. ETropic: Electronic Journal of Studies in the Tropics, 18(2).