Alaya & Singsing (600)
ATIN KU PÛNG SINGSING: Discussion on the Mystical and Anti-colonial Symbolisms of an Ancient Kapampangan Song

Based on the original paper presented at the 1st International Conference on Kapampangan Studies, Angeles City, September 2001.

Atin ku pûng Singsing brushed in Kulitan by the Ágúman Súlat Kapampángan in 2013

Atin ku pûng Singsing brushed in Kulitan by the Ágúman Súlat Kapampángan in 2013. Screen capture from the video by Diego Marx Dobles.


Aláya is the Kapampángan concept of the intangible, the metaphysical, the universal, the infinite, the divine, the life force or spirit. It was originally derived from two Kapampangan words alâ ‘nothing’ and ya which is the third person singular absolutive and at times possessive pronoun. Therefore alá ya literally meant “that which is not there”.

Understanding the concept of Aláya can be demonstrated in these four Kapampangan proverbs:

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Pilan lang yátâng sísimbul,
Ibat king makapabúsal?
Dápot dumúgang alî ya,
Nung é mû king alâ ya (Aláya).

How many spokes radiate from within? Yet the turning of the wheel is dependent on Aláya / alâ ya ‘that which is not there’.

Nú ya ing pángadubása ning dubása, nung é mû king alâ ya.

Nú ya ing pángadubása ning dubása, nung é mû king alâ ya.

Nú ya ing pángasarû ning sarû,
Nung é mû king alâ ya (Aláya).

A cup is not a cup if not for Aláya / alâ ya ‘that which is not there’. That which make a cup a cup is the empty space that you can fill with coffee, tea or soup.

Nú ya ing pángabalé ning bale,
Nung é mû king alâ ya (Aláya).

A house is not a house if not for Aláya / alâ ya ‘that which is not there’… the empty spaces… the rooms, the doors, the windows, the hallways/passageways.

Nú ya ing pángatáwu ning táwu,
Nung é mû king alâ ya (Aláya).

Man is not man if not for Aláya / alâ ya ‘that which is not there’… not his face, nor his brain and neither his hands or feet… but the things in him that you cannot immediately see or grasp… his love, his kindness, his intelligence, his soul, his spirit… that which makes him move… that which makes him, him.

Aláya therefore is the Kapampangan spirit. The one that makes a Kapampangan a Kapampangan.

The Ring

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The ring is the symbol of eternity not because the ring loops in such a way that we can no longer see the beginning or the end, but because of the void or empty space contained within the ring. It is this empty space that has no beginning or end. This empty space is alâ ya / Aláya.

A popular Kapampangan saying goes:
King Singsing Yamu ati ing ALA (600)

King singsing yá mû ati ing alâ ya.
[Only in the ring can you see that which is not there.]

This is why the Kapampangan song Atin ku pûng Singsing is considered the most sacred song among Kapampángan revolutionaries. It is sung innocently as a children’s song. Everyone sings it. Within its seemingly trivial and innocent lyrics lie a message and a prophecy. The hint can be found in the format of the song itself. It is a Basultû, having six syllables in eight lines. Kapampángans of old learned to go beyond the literal meaning of every basultû that was sung before. Basultû were designed exactly for this purpose.

First stanza: The Message
Atin ku pung SIngsing (600)

Atin ku pûng Singsing,
Métung yang Timpúkan,
Ámána ké Iti,
King Indûng Íbatan,
Sangkan kéng Sinínup,
King métung a Kaban,
Me-Aláya Iti,
É ku Kam-Aláya-n.


1. Atin ku pûng Singsing: Lit. I have a ring. After learning what the ring symbolize for Kapampángans as previously discussed, especially for the revolutionaries, then you already understand what this powerful statement means. It is a preamble.

  1. Métung yang Timpúkan: It is the center of my life. Tampuk = center of attention, seat of honour. All other things become secondary, revolve around it.
  1. Ámána ké iti: Lit. I inherited it. The curious thing about this stanza is the use of the Kapampangan demonstrative iti (‘this’ inclusive) instead of ini (‘this’ exclusive), suggesting that the ring does not only belong to the singer, but also, to the listener.
  1. King Indûng Íbatan: Lit. From my ‘real’ Mother. Many Kapampangans interpret this to mean Indûng Tibûan or Indûng Kapampangan, the names we lovingly call our Kapampangan homeland… as opposed to Madre España, Madre Santa Iglesia Catolica or even Santa Maria Madre de Dios.
  1. Sangkan kéng sinínup: Lit. I pretended to hide it. The message of the song, which is also the ring itself, has to be hidden from the public… from the colonial authorities, from the church, from unenlightened. For it will be destroyed or suppressed and many will be hunted down.
  1. King métung a Kaban: Lit. In a container. The nature of this container is explained in the next line.
  1. Me-Aláya iti: ‘It disappeared’ and ‘It became one with alâ ya (Aláya)’. To continue sending the song’s message to generations and generations of Kapampangan, it must be “written” in a medium that cannot be suppressed or destroyed. The message therefore was hidden not in bronze or bamboo or paper but in music. Music is eternal. Music is Aláya. So the message was hidden within the song itself.
  1. É ku Kam-Aláya-n: I too became one with Aláya. It went beyond my physical consciousness, Kamaláyan, to Kam-Aláya-n, my Inner Being that is one with Aláya.


Second Stanza: The Prophecy

When the Kapampángan members of the Katipúnan realized that the Kapampángan people are not yet ready for the message of the song in the late 19th century and simply shifted their bondage from the Spaniards to the Americans, they added this second stanza.

Ing súkal ning Lúb ku,
Súsukdul king Banua,
Píkurus kóng Gámat,
Bábo ning Lamésa,
Nínu mang Manákit,
King Singsing kung Mána,
Kalúlûng púsû Ku,
Mánginu ya Kéya.

King Sukal ning Lub ku (600)

1 & 2. Ing Súkal ning Lúb ku, Súsukdul king Banua: The dirt that piled up in my soul, Reaches the highest heavens. Referring not just to Kapampángans who have betrayed their culture, but also our ancestors who cannot rest / move on into the next world because their children have become foreigners in their own land. Their voice remain unheard.

3 & 4. Píkurus kóng Gámat, Bábo ning Lamésa: I crossed my Hands, Across the Table. Dúlang ‘table’ is the Kapampángan word for ‘home’. It is the center of one’s life. It is where friends and relatives gather. It is where the family becomes one. It is never empty. There is always something on the table in every Kapampangan household. There are always people around it. To be able to cross one’s hands across the table means there is nothing on it and no one around it. This is not a Kapampángan table. It is not a dúlang. It is a lamésa ~ a poor Spanish copy.

5 & 6. Nínu man Manákit, King Singsing kung Mána: Lit. Whoever finds, This Ring of my Heritage. He who could unlock, the message of the song itself. He who can understand, the true meaning of the song.

7 & 8. Kalúlûng Púsû ku, Mánginu ya kéya: Lit. My Impoverished Heart, Will follow him forever. The individual will finally be able to know his true self and all the dirt in his soul will finally be swept away and our ancestors can finally be at peace.

Prof. Grace Odal of UP Manila dancing on the Kulitan text of Atin ku pûng Singsing brushed by the Ágúman Súlat Kapampángan in 2013

Prof. Grace Odal of UP Manila dancing on the Kulitan text of Atin ku pûng Singsing brushed by the Ágúman Súlat Kapampángan in 2013


Singsing also refers to Súlat Kapampángan or Kulitan which was simply hidden from the general public but was never really lost. The Aláya contained within the Singsing is the Kapampangan language or Amánung Sísuan.


Pangilinan, Michael R.M. (2001) Atin ku pûng singsing: discussions on the mystical and anti-colonial symbolisms of an ancient Kapampangan song. 1st International Conference on Kapampangan Studies, 2001 September, Holy Angel University, Angeles City, Philippines.

© Copyright 2014 Siuálâ Ding Meángûbié

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