A Structural Analysis of Religious Legends about an Iconic Image in the Philippines

Author: Jose Macatangay, De La Salle Lipa, Philippines
Email: jose.macatangay@dlsl.edu.ph
Published: August 16, 2023

Citation: Macatangay, J. (2023). A Structural Analysis of Religious Legends about an Iconic Image in the Philippines. IAFOR Journal of Arts & Humanities, 10(1). https://doi.org/10.22492/ijah.10.1.01


The study aimed to conduct a structural analysis of seven legends surrounding an iconic image in the Philippines, the Sto. Niño de Cebu. The corpora used for the study were limited to the legends on healing people’s illnesses through the Sto. Niño’s miraculous interventions. Specifically, this study identified the binary oppositions found in the legends, derived syntagmatic sequences or mythemes and their variations from the legends, determined the central message of each legend based on the mythemes, and related each legend to one another. This qualitative study adopted the procedures used by Gray (1978) in “Structural Analysis of Folktales: Techniques and Methodology.” The study found that each legend has its binary opposition/s and central message textually, and the mythemes were expressed in different details and bundles. Intertextually, such binary opposition sickness vs. healing, may be linked with the mythemes and central messages. The researcher recommends that future researchers study the other legends about the Sto. Niño focused on other themes to validate if the mythemes found in this study may apply or if a new set of mythemes may surface. It is also highly recommended that the Sto. Niño legends are included in the reading list or required readings in English and Philippine Literature classes. For the study’s academic implications, the study of religious legends, particularly the Sto. Niño legends as texts for critical analysis to apply Literary Criticism theories may be integrated into the basic and higher education curricula.


causality, binary oppositions, Catholicism, mythemes, Sto. Niño, structural analysis