From Disinformation to Mythification: Rethinking Historically the Mythicized Sidapa-Bulan Queer Romance

  • Gregorio R. Caliguia, III


In 2010s, the love story between Sidapa and Bulan, two oft-described as male gods, widely circulated online and eventually became a folkloric representation about the LGBTQIA+ during the pre-colonial Philippines. But in 2019 this queer mythological romance was exposed to be a hoax. However, instead of dismissing the story altogether for being a hoax, especially given the story’s already irreversible circulation in popular culture today, this paper rather examines the “mythification” of Sidapa-Bulan queer romance as a case for historical rethinking.

Drawing from a bricolage of digital, ethnohistorical, and historiographical materials, this paper is divided into four sections. The first section dissects this paper’s conceptual tools: the use of seemingly anachronistic categories of “queer” and “LGBTQIA+,” and how these categories intersect with the concepts of “myth-making” as a sociological (and by extension, historical) phenomenon, and what came to be known as “neo-archiving” (i.e., the use of fiction in response to the gaps in history). The second section explains the paper’s methodology and sources, specifically its use of four historical thinking skills in dissecting the Sidapa-Bulan myth. The third section examines the Sidapa-Bulan
myth as a historical case, specifically in terms of sourcing and close reading, corroborating, and contextualizing. And the fourth section attempts to offer, albeit in broad strokes, some potential ways to move forward from the damages caused by the Sidapa-Bulan myth.

As such, this paper argues that only by maintaining transparency over its own history, that the Sidapa-Bulan queer romance, as a case of contemporary myth-making (where queer artists, authors, and allies did not merely passively consume the story, but rather actively re-define and appropriate it), can become useful and integral in rethinking and, thus, enriching the Philippine LGBTQIA+ past. But in a practical sense, this paper demonstrates how historical thinking skills can empower the public to detect, dissect, and dispel disinformation today.

Keywords: LGBTQIA+ historiography, queer mythology, myth-making, disinformation, social media