‘God Knows Hudas Not Pay’: The Trickster Motif in Filipino Popular and Performance Culture
A central figure in oral and literary folk traditions across many cultures, the trickster is a boundary-crossing archetype, a complex personality whose appetite for mischief-making, cheating, lying, sneaking and buffoonery signals the destructive and transformative forces at play within the cosmos. Ambivalent and amoral, trickster humour is the humour of carnival, of the lower bodily stratum. For Bakhtin, such moments of Rabelasian misrule are moments of popular revolt against hierarchy and order. Building on this notion of trickster humour as a liminal device that enables resistance and subversion, I explore the trickster motif in a range of Filipino popular and performance texts to show how the trickster and features thereof can be read as a trustworthy aspect of the Filipino Nationalist Imaginary. Drawing on contemporary work on the sociology of trust as well as on postcolonial theatre and literary theoretical work on dialogism, performativity and the role of the popular in the formation of imagined communities, I argue that trickster manipulation forces a collective, metatextual spectatorial or readerly confrontation and negotiation with complex questions of political, social and cultural trust that are always already overlaid by colonial and postcolonial disciplinary regimes.
Keywords: Philippine Drama and Performance, Philippine Popular Culture, Trickster Figure, Diasporic and Exilic Literature, Colonial and Postcolonial Discourses of Identity, Postcolonial Ressentiment
PhD candidate, Department of English with Cultural Studies and the School of Creative Arts, The University of Melbourne