The Legend of Sun & Moon
The Sun and the Moon used to be married and shared the sky. One day the Moon had to gather vegetables in the forest and asked the Sun to watch over their children. She warned him not to get too near the sleeping kids because they might get burned.
He watches the kids from a distance but, because he wanted to kiss them, forgot his wife's warning. He bends over near his children and, horrified, sees them melt. He hides in the forest. His wife, the Moon, returns to find her children all melted. After some time, the Sun shows himself to the Moon. They fight: He throws the vegetables to her face and she leaves him.
On a clear night, when the Moon is full, you will see traces of vegetable leaves on her face. Their children have turned into stars, while the Sun keeps chasing after the Moon in an attempt to reconcile.
The Legend of the Sea
Many years ago, the sea tasted like ordinary rainwater. It was bland and tasteless. Fortunately, the people living in the islands knew about a friendly giant who kept mounds of salt in his cave.
The people would cross the ocean on their boats to reach the gentle giant's island, and that is how they were able to bring salt back to their villages, in order to prepare tastier meals.
One time, however, the ocean was quite rough and they could not sail out to gather salt. They eventually ran out of salt and the villagers no longer enjoyed their tasteless meals. They wondered how they could get salt again, when a child suggested they ask the giant to stretch out his legs over the ocean so that they could walk to his island instead.
The kind giant agreed, and villagers with empty salt sacks walked along the giant's leg. Unfortunately, the giant's foot landed on an anthill, and the ferocious red ants started biting the enormous leg.
"Hurry!" pleaded the giant, who strained to keep his itchy legs still.
As soon as the people reached the giant's island, he immediately withdrew his foot and scratched the itchy bites. The villages just smiled at how a giant could be bothered by tiny ants.
Anyway, the people got their salt and the giant again stretched his leg over the ocean. Immediately, the ants began biting his swollen foot. Once again, the giant asked the people to hurry up, but the heavy salt sacks slowed them down.
Besides, the people didn't believe that the tiny ants could really affect the giant, so they idly chatted away, and walked rather slowly.
Before the villagers could cross the ocean, the giant cried out and thrust his ant-bitten foot into the ocean. All the packed salt fell into the plain-water sea and melted.
The giant saved the people from drowning, but no one was able to recover the spilled salt. From that day onwards, the sea became salty.
The Legend of Fish
A farmer and his wife were blessed with a beautiful baby girl. They pampered her and refused to let her do any farmwork. They showered her with attention. Too much attention.
She grew up into a beautiful maiden. And she knew it. That's why she would often go to the clear streams to admire her own beauty.
One day, the king of the crabs saw her by the side of the stream, and he approached her saying he wanted to be her friend.
She found him ugly and told him she did not want to be friends with such a horrid-looking creature. So he jumped on her face and made several painful scratches.
She splashed some water on her wounds, but these hardened into scales. To top it off, the king crab placed a spell on her and turned her into a fish filled with scales.
Nowadays, if you happen to look into clear streams, you'll find scaly fish swimming and moving in a strange manner. They quickly jerk away when they sometimes see their reflection which reminds them of the "beauty" they lost long ago.
The Legend of the Corn
What strange red and golden seeds closely lined up in several rows, she wondered, and wept as she remembered her lover who died on this very spot, his blood watering the soil from which sprouted that unusual plant with the red seeds.
And what of the golden ones? She painfully remembers a young and handsome dying man, delirious in death, frantically repeating he wrapped into a dried banana leaf the golden necklaces, beads, bracelets, rings and earrings he stole from various graves.
She helped him escape from the guards. They were going to start a new life together. They were going to...
"If only that old woman hadn't seen him! If only our Chief had not sentenced him to die!" she wailed while clutching the tear-sodden ears of red and golden corn, as she rhythmically rocked back and forth behind her dead lover's silent hut, in the slowly yellowing dawn of Panay island.
The Legend of the First Garlic
There once lived a beautiful maiden whose mother arranged to be married to the son of one of the richest datus in the land. She was so lovely that a rival suitor murdered her fiancé. That rival was, in turn, killed by the dead fiancé’s loyal slave.
As news of the double-deaths spread, the young maiden runs up a sacred mountain and implores Bathala to take her away so that her beautiful face will no longer cause any future killings.
She gets zapped by lightning.
Her mother buries her and grieves, watering her grave with tears.
One day, the mother sees some grass-like plants sprouting on top of her dead daughter's graves. Thinking it was some useless weed, she pulls it out and sees seeds that look like her dead daughter's teeth.
She hears a supernatural voice boom: "Those are your daughter's teeth."
She gives thanks, knowing this is Bathala's way of giving her something that will remind her of her daughter. She plants the seeds all over her land to spread the memory of her daughter, and that's how the garlic plant began.
The Legend of Butterflies
There once lived an old woman who tended a fine flower garden by the shore of a lake. The fisherfolk who lived in a nearby village loved her dearly, and would often visit her to exchange their fish for lovely flowers.
They somehow knew there was something magical about her, for her house seemed mysteriously bright at night (no, she didn't have any electricity), and some even saw a few dwarfs assisting what appeared to be a beautiful young woman... but only at night, never during the day.
One time, a young couple visited the village. They were proud and hated anything ugly.
They chanced upon the old woman's flower garden at the edge of the lake, and entered it to gather some bouquets. The old woman asked them to leave, but instead of obeying, the young man and woman made fun of her because they found her ugly.
To punish them, the old woman touched them with a cane and said that since they like only beautiful things, they will be turned into the most beautiful insects.
So the next time you see two lovely butterflies hovering near some flowers, you'll remember that haughty young couple.
The Legend of the Monkey
Long ago, in a forest, lived a young girl who served as an apprentice of the goddess of weaving. She was cared for and well-provided for by her supernatural benefactor.
One day, the goddess instructed her to prepare a dress by cleaning some cotton, beating it, spinning it, weaving it into cloth, cutting it, and finally sewing it.
Unfortunately, the young girl was quite lazy and found the dress-making process too tedious. So she took the leather cloth (used to beat the cotton on), a wore it thinking it would make a much longer-lasting dress.
Enraged, the goddess punished the young girl by making the leather stick to her skin, and by attaching the beating stick to her body.
So when you see a monkey with leather skin and a long tail, remember that lazy girl who once didn't have to struggle in the forest to keep herself alive.
The Legend of the Philippines
The universe was once made up of the Sky (on top), the Sea (at the bottom), and a large Bird which flew constantly between the first two. The Bird grew tired of flying since he didn't have any place to rest, so he started an argument between those two best of friends, the Sky and the Sea.
The Bird told the Sky that the Sea wanted to drown him with her mighty waves. Then the Bird told the Sea that the Sky wanted to hit her with stones. The Sea reacted by throwing waves of water towards the Sky.
The Sky moved even higher, but when he saw the Sea's waves rising some more, he then threw soil towards the sea. The soil quieted the Sea and also made the Sky lighter. The soil turned into 7,000 islands and that is how the Philippines came to be.
The Legend of Magayon
Once there was a princess named Daragang Magayon (Daraga means lady, Magayon is beautiful) who lived in Bicol. She's so beautiful. She came from the family that reigns over the entire Bicol.
Because of her beauty and influence, warriors, princes and datus from different parts of the country desired to have her as their wife. But Magayon fell in love with a warrior named Handiong, a prince who came from a tribe that was, unfortunately, the rival of Magayon's tribe. The two suffered so much from their respective family's attempts to separate them that they finally decided to flee. Unfortunately their families found out and fought a bloody tribal war. This caused the young couple so much pain they decided together to commit suicide.
The tribes buried the lovers separately. Months passed when Magayon's tribe saw a volcano growing in the place where Magayon was buried. They named it for Daragang Magayon. "Bulkang Magayon" describing its perfect shape like their beautiful Daraga.
The Legend of the Very First Man
In the very beginning there lived a being so large that he can not be compared with any known thing. His name was Melu, and when he sat on the clouds, which were his home, he occupied all the space above. His teeth were pure gold, and because he was very cleanly and continually rubbbed himself with his hands, his skin became pure white. The dead skin which he rubbed off his body was placed on one side in a pile, and by and by this pile became so large that he was annoyed and set himself to consider what he could do with it.
Finally Melu decided to make the earth; so he worked very hard in putting the dead skin into shape, and when it was finished he was so pleased with it that he determined to make two beings like himself, though smaller, to live on it.
Making the remnants of the material left after making the earth he fashioned two men, but just as they were all finished except their noses, Tau Tana from below the earth appeared and wanted to help him.
Melu did not wish any assistance, and a great argument ensued Tau Tana finally won his point and made the noses which he placed on the people upside down. When all was finished, Melu and Tau Tana whipped the forms until they moved. Then Melu went to his home above the clouds, and Tau Tana returned to his place below the earth.
All went well until one day a great rain came, and the people on the earth nearly drowned from the water which ran off their heads into their noses. Melu, from his place on the clouds, saw their danger, and he came quickly to earth and saved their lives by turning their noses the other side up.
The people were very grateful to him, and promised to do anything he should ask of them. Before he left for the sky, they told him that they were very unhappy living on the great earth all alone, so he told them to save all the hair from their heads and the dry skin from their bodies and the next time he came he would make them some companions. And in this way there came to be a great many people on the earth.
The Legend of the Limokon (Mindanao)
In the very early days before there were any people on the earth, the limokon (a kind of dove) were very powerful and could talk like men though they looked Iike birds. One limokon laid two eggs, one at the mouth of the Mayo River and one farther up its course. After some time these eggs hatched, and the one at the mouth of the river became a man, while the other became a woman.
The man lived alone on the bank of the river for a long time, but he was very lonly and wished many times for a Companion. One day when he was crossing the river something was swept against his legs with such force that it nearly caused him to drown. On examining it, he found that it was a hair, and he determined to go up the river and find whence it came. He traveled up the stream, looking on both banks, until finally he found the woman, and he was very happy to think that at last he could have a companion.
They were married and had many children, who are the Mandaya still living along the Mayo River.
The Legend of Maria Makiling
The many legends of Mariang Makiling tell of a young woman who lived on the beautiful mountain that separates the provinces of Laguna and Tayabas. Her dwelling place was never definitely known, because those who had the good luck to deal with her would wander about for a long time lost in the woods, unable to return; neither did they remember the way, nor were they agreed as to the place and its description.
While some say her home was a beautiful palace, bright as a golden reliquary, surrounded by gardens and fine parks, others assert that they saw only wretched hut with a patched roof and bamboo sides. Such a contradiction may give rise to the belief that both parties were romancing, it is true; but it may also be due to the fact that Mariang Makiling, like may persons in comfortable circumstances, might have had two dwelling places.
According to eyewitness, she was a young woman, tall and graceful with big black eyes and long a nd abundant hair. Her color was a clear pure brown, the kayumangging kaligatan, as the Tagalog say. Her hands and feet were small and delicate and the expression of her countenance always grave and serious.
She was a fantastic creature, half nymph, halves sylph, born under the moonbeams of Filipinas, in the mystery of its ancient woods, to the murmur of the waves on the neighboring shore. According to general belief, and contrary to the reputation imputed to the nymphs and goddesses, Mariang Makiling always remained pure, simple, and mysterious as the genius of the mountain. An old maid servant we had, an Amazon who defended her house against the outlaws and once killed once of them with a lance thrust, assured me that she had in her childhood seen her passing in the distance over the reed grass so lightly and airily that she did not even make the flexible blades bend.
They said that on the night of Good Friday, when the hunters build bonfires to attract the deer by the scent of the ashes of which these animals are so fond, they have discerned her motionless on the brink of the most fearful abysses, letting her long hair float in the wind, all flooded with the moonlight. Then she would salute them ceremoniously, pass on, and disappear amid the shadows of the neighboring trees.
Generally every one love and respected her and no one ever dared to question her, to follow, or to watch her. She has also been seen seated for long periods upon a cliff beside a river, as though watching the gentle currents of the stream. There was an old hunter who claimed to have seen her bathing in a secluded fountain at midnight, when the cicadas themselves were asleep, when the moon reigned in the midst of silence, and nothing disturbed the charm of solitude. In those same hours and under the same circumstances was the time when the mysterious and melancholy notes of her harp might be heard. Persons who heard them stopped, for they drew away and became hushed when any attempt was made to follow them up.
Her favorable time for appearing, it is said, was after a storm. Then she would be seen scurrying over the fields, and whenever she passed, life, order, and calm were renewed; the trees again straightened up their overthrown trunks, and all traces of the unchained elements were wiped away.
When the poor country folk on the slopes of Makiling needed clothing or jewels for the solemn occasions of life, she would lend them and besides, give her a pullet white as milk, one that had never laid an egg, a dumalaga, as they say. Mariang Makiling was very charitable and had a good heart. Now often has she not, in the guise of a simple country maid, aided poor old women who went to the woods for firewood or to pick wild fruits, by slipping among the latter nuggets of gold, coins, and jewels.
A hunter who was one day chasing a wild boar through the tall grass and thorny bushes of the thickets came suddenly upon a hut in which the animal hid.
Soon a beautiful young woman issued from the hut and said to him gently: “The wild boar belongs to me and you have done wrong to chase it. But I see that you are very tired; your arms and legs are covered with blood. So come in and eat, and then you may go on your way.”
Confused and startled, and besides charmed by the beauty of the young woman, the man went in and ate mechanically everything she offered him, without being able to speak a single word. Before he left, the young woman gave him some pieces of ginger, charging him to give them to his wife for her cooking. The hunter put them inside the crown of his broad hat and after thanking her, withdrew in content. On the was home, he felt his hat becoming heavy so he took out many of the pieces and threw them away. But what was his surprise and regret when the next day he discovered that what he had taken to be ginger was solid gold, bright as a ray of sunshine. Although he tried to look for them later, he could never find even one.
But for many years now, Mariang Makiling’s presence has not been manifested on Makiling. Her vapory figure no longer wanders through the deep valleys or hovers over the waterfalls on the serene moonlight nights. The melancholy tone of her mysterious harp is no longer heard, and now lovers get married without receiving from her jewels and other presents, many fear that she has disappeared forever, or at least, she avoids any contact with mankind.
Yet on the side of the mountain, there is a clear, quite pool, and the legend persists that her vapory figure may still be seen reflected in this pool in the mists of early dawn, and from time to time people to the countryside go to watch for her there.
The Legend of Hari sa Bukid
Many years ago, in the high mountains of Southern Luzon, there was a beautiful place where the people were happy. They produced much tobacco. The people were governed by a certain king named Hari sa Bukid, who was very good. He had a very wide plantation in their domain, the mountain that was very beautiful. His people were happy.
One day he called all his men and said that he was going to a far-away land to visit his friends, who were kings. He bade them to be industrious and to continue planting. He told them to be diligent and to the slopes of the mountains with tobacco, if he was delayed in his return journey.
During his first ten years, the people of Hari sa Bukid faithfully fulfilled their vow to the king and the slopes of the mountains were virtually flower gardens full of beautifully cultivated tobacco plants. The whole tribe of Hari sa Bukid were happy and prosperous. Their tobacco trade was so large that even the people of the nearby lands flocked to barter their goods with them. All were happy and prosperous. Everyone tended his share of the land carefully. More and more tobacco was produced. The fame of the people in raising tobacco in Hari sa Bukid’s tribe became well-known.
Then they started to abandon the care and the cultivation of the field. Their harvests diminished greatly and their business with other people was discredited because of the small quantity that they could raise. Almont of the friends were abandoned.
When they were already in want because of lack of goods and other things that they needed in their livelihood, they felt a strong earthquake that shook the foundation of the earth and the volcano started throwing out fire and smoke. They were frightened and ran in all directions towards the sea.
To their astonishment Hari sa Bukid appeared in a terrible rage. Calling all his men together, he rebuked them for their disobedience to his order and advice. He scolded them severely for their improper and unbecoming conduct, ordering them in a thundering voice to answer him. All his men were speechless. They knew they were guilty of the serious crimes of disobedience and laziness. Upon seeing the guilt of his people, he punished them by gathering the scanty produce of tobacco in the fields and carried it to the top of the mountain. With a terrific blow of his fist, he bore a hole on top of the mountain and carried all the tobacco with him down to the center of the earth. He smokes in there when he is in good mood. Thus when we see the volcano smoking and sending out fire, it is Hari sa Bukid smoking his tobacco.
Unless his people will come again and show their industry and work hard, Hari sa Bukid will never return; the tobacco which he is still smoking in the center of the earth will continue.
The Legend of The First Man & Woman
A long time ago, there was no land. There were only the sea and the sky. A bird was them flying in the sky. Soon she grew tired and wanted to rest. But she could not. As she was smart, she made the sea throw rocks up at the sky. And the sky turned very dark and poured down water. That was how the island came about. Now the waves break on the shore and can never rise as high as the sky again.
Horrified by the unusual downpour of rain, the bird flew away as fast as she could. She saw the land just created. And on that land, she could see tropical trees, throwing up their naked shoulders. These green things were merely bamboos.
As the bird was flying all the time, she became thirsty. But she could not quench her thirst with the salty sea water. She, therefore, looked for rivulets. Unfortunately, there was none. Realizing that some water was stored in the bamboo joints, she alighted, and started to peck on the bamboo clumps.
“Peck harder, peck harder,” a weak voice cried, the moment her bill struck the bamboo. The bird was extremely frightened, and was about to fly away. But like a curious woman, she restrained herself. She wanted to know that voice really was. Gathering her courage, she pecked, pecked, and pecked.
“Peck harder, peck harder,” the weak voice complained again. The bird became he more curious. She pecked and pecked with all her might. But as her pecking was ineffectual, she snatched a piece of rock nearby and dropped it on the bamboo. The bamboo was broken and split in two. In the wink of an eye, a man and a woman stepped out of the bamboo joint, the man bowing politely to the woman. The woman gave recognition to the man; then they walked away hand in hand.
The appearance of the human beings frightened the bird. She forgot her thirst and flew away, hardly realizing that she saw the first human beings, and had a role in their creation.
The Legend of Man
When the world first began there was no land, but only the sea and the sky, and between them was a kite. One day the bird which had nowhere to light grew tired of flying about, so she stirred up the sea until it threw its waters against the sky. The sky, in order to restrain the sea, showered upon it many islands until it could no longer rise, but ran back and forth. Then the sky ordered the kite to light on one of the islands to build her nest, and to leave the sea and the sky in peace.
Now at this time the land breeze and the sea breeze were married, and they had a child which was a bamboo. One day when this bamboo was floating about on the water, it struck the feet of the kite which was on the beach. The bird, angry that anything should strike it, pecked at the bamboo, and out of one section came a man and from the other a woman.
Then the earthquake called on all the birds and fish to see what should be done with these two, and it was decided that they should marry. Many children were born to the couple, and from them came all the different races of people.
After a while the parents grew very tired of having so many idle and useless children around, and they wished to be rid of them, but they knew of no place to send them to. Time went on and the children became so numerous that the parents enjoyed no peace. One day, in desperation, the father seized a stick and began beating them on all sides.
This so frightened the children that they fled in different directions, seeking hidden rooms in the house - some concealed themselves in the walls, some ran outside, while others hid in the fireplace, and several fled to the sea.
Now it happened that those who went into the hidden rooms of the house later became the chiefs of the Islands; and those who concealed themselves in the walls became slaves. Those who ran outside were free men; and those who hid in the fireplace became negroes; while those who fled to the sea were gone many years, and when their children came back they were the white people.
The Legend of Durian
Barom-Mai was an old and ugly king who lived in a kingdom called Calinan in the Visayas hundreds of years ago. Although he was powerful, he was helpless when it came to winning the love of his young bride, Madayaw-Bayho (daughter of Tageb, king of the pirates).
Barom-Mai asked his advisers to help him win his bride's love, and Matigam (the wisest of advisers) told him about Impit Purok, a hermit who lived in a cave in Mt. Apo.
They went to the hermit and he asked for three things: the egg of the black tabon bird, twelve ladles of fresh milk from a white carabao without blemish, and the nectar from the flower of the tree-of-make-believe.
The egg will be used to soften the bride's heart; the milk, to make her kind; and, the nectar, to make her see Barom-Mai as a young and handsome king.
The king finds the egg through the help of Pawikan, the king of the sea turtles. He luckily gets milk from a white carabao the following breakfast, thanks to his cook. Hangin-Bai, the nymph of the air, leads him to her sister, the wood nymph who had the magic flower in her hair.
Barom-Mai gives the three things to Impit Purok, who asked him to prepare a big feast after Barom-Mai wins his queen back, and to invite Impit Purok as the king's guest of honor.
Impit Purok mixes the three ingredients and instructs Barom-Mai to plant the mixture in the royal garden. The morning after it was planted, a tree grew. It had a sweet smell and tasted good. When Madayaw-Bayho was given the fruit, she fell in love with Barom-Mai.
The king throws a big feast but forgets to invite Impit Purok. In retaliation, Impit casts a curse upon the fruit: The sweet smell was replaced with a foul odor while the smooth skin of the fruit was covered with thorns, which is how the durian smells and looks today.
The Legend of the First Rainbow
A farmer noticed that a wall he built keeps getting knocked down. He waits one evening and surprises three star maidens. Two are able to escape while one is left behind because the farmer hid her magic wings. They get married and have a son.
One day, the star maiden finds her missing wings hidden near their house, wears them and takes her son up to her sky world.
The gods take pity on the farmer and so they built a rainbow so that the mortal can sometimes climb up to the sky to visit his wife and son.
The Legend of the Lizard
Long ago, there was a mother who loved her only son deeply. She was a pious woman and her son imitated most of her good deeds, which were many. Her son was good at heart, but young. The woman knew that he still had much to learn before he could fully adopt saintly ways.
God decided to test this young son’s piety and love for his mother. He sent a beautiful woman to capture the young man’s eager heart. The beautiful woman urged the son to keep their meetings a secret from his mother, and though it pained the boy to do so, for he never kept secrets from his mother, he obeyed. But the real challenge had not yet been failed.
The beautiful woman beguiled the boy so that she was able to make him promise that he would do anything she asked. She therefore asked that he should – if he loved her as truly as he declared – cut out his mother’s heart and bring it to her. The young man, blinded by love, dutifully slaughtered his beloved mother. It was exactly six o’clock in the evening, and his mother was reciting the Angelus then. He held the still-beating heart in his hands as he rushed to where he knew the girl stood waiting. But when he got to their meeting-place, the girl was not there. Nothing was there – save for the realization of what he had done.
The heart still beat, though it tarried long in the hands of the prodigal son. And then it began to speak. In his shock, the boy dropped the heart, and it fell into a crack in the ground.
"Are you in pain, my child?" the mother’s heart inquired. "Let me sing you a lullaby, to soothe you to sleep." The heart softly started singing, as lovingly as its owner would have done. And in the son’s remorse he fell flat on his belly and kissed the ground that the heart lay on. The boy was so filled with guilt and grief that he did not notice himself changing, growing smaller, losing all his hair and clothing so that he was a tiny web-footed thing, that kissed and kissed at the ground as if begging for someone’s forgiveness.
At exactly six o’clock every night, when the Angelus strikes, the lizard comes down from the walls of the house, and crawls down to the floor, where it would make slight ticking sounds like quick kisses. It has been said that the lizard has not yet redeemed itself in its own eyes, and that with its tiny ears it could hear an ancient beating, and a lullaby that does not end.
The Legend of the Sun, Moon, and Stars
( Why the Sky is High )
Long ago, our elders say, the sky was so close to the earth that one could touch it. But there were only two people who could avail of that fact. They were the first man and woman.
It has been said that the first woman was so vain. She wore so much jewelry and despised work. Whenever the first man would ask her to do something, she would pout. She pouted when he asked her to clean the house. She pouted whenever he asked her to cook. She pouted whenever he asked her to grind the rice grains everyday for their food.
"But if you don’t grind the rice, we don’t get to eat," the first man reasoned, and even the vain first woman could not dispute that.
But it was so much work grinding the rice with a little pestles and mortars. So she poured all their rice for the day into a very large mortar and took up a very large pestle to grind it with. The pestle was so tall that when it hit the mortar, it touched the sky. The first woman was oblivious to this. She only knew she had to grind all the rice before her husband came home for supper.
She still wore all her jewelry. She noticed that her jewelry kept falling off or hampered her in any other way whenever she worked. So she hung her larger pieces of jewelry upon the sky, which were her silver comb, her gold ring, and her long pearl necklace. And then she went to work with the huge pestle, unknowing that as one end of the pestle pounded onto the rice grains, the other end was pounding onto the sky. The first woman only knew that having the sky so low only made her task more difficult. So she pounded harder and harder on the rice. Higher and higher the sky went, until with one enormous stroke, the first woman sent the sky flying up, never to come so close to the earth again.
She sensed a draft behind her neck and looked up. She was astonished to see that the sky had risen so high – and taken her most precious things with it! She could see her silver comb shining where the moon is now, and the beads of her lovely necklace twinkling all around it. Her golden ring was nowhere in sight. The first woman grumbled, "I would have worn those things again if I’d known they would go to waste.
The Legend of Man
One day, in Paradise, God decided that He would make the ruler of the Earth strong and steadfast. So he said to the angels, "Let us mold Man out of earth." The angels immediately went down to fetch some soil, but the devils, which were close to the soil, did not allow them to take it, for they were jealous of the angels. So the angels came rushing back to God. God saw that the devils could be placated by giving them something that He also gave His angels, and so He agreed to also give the devils revelation of everything He would do. Thus appeased, the devils helped the angels gather soil to create Man.
But Man made out of pure earth crumbled. So God mixed water with the soil, and the water held the scattering fragments together somewhat, but then the mixture would not dry. God therefore summoned the wind to dry the Man. And when the Man was dried, God saw that the Man was stiff, that he could not move. God thus placed fire inside Man. It was so that Man, in the end, was composed of the four elements of the Earth: earth, water, air and fire.
There were some problems with this marvelous creature, though. When Man sneezed, his neck stretched out. God told his angels (and the devils, too) that such a malady would be countered if the Man would say "God bless me" whenever he sneezed. The devils saw that they could play tricks on Man, and so, after having the simple fault of neck-stretching fixed, they created another one. The made it so that Man’s jaw dropped so far down that it touched his chest whenever he yawned. Presently, God revealed that this prank would be countered if Man would say "God preserve me from the devils" whenever he yawned. Thus the devils’ joke was stifled.
But Man was lonely. So God put him to sleep and took a piece of his rib, and created Woman. He blessed them and what would be the fruits of their beautiful union.
The first children Man and Woman had were a white boy and a white girl. Then they had a black boy and a black girl. The white boy and the white girl married and left Paradise, to live on the Earth on their own. The black boy and the black girl also married and lived on the Earth on their own. So the Earth became populated with whites and blacks first.
Life was well for Man and Woman in Paradise. But one day a stranger there came to Woman, offering her a fruit. But Woman was already full. She took the fruit anyway and ate it. When Man came along, she urged him to eat it, too. And because the two of them had been full to start with, their stomachs rebelled and they started urinating and defecating in Paradise. This caused God to throw them out, and to curse their entire line from ever coming back. It has thus been established that the real source of all our suffering is Woman’s gluttony. Until now our two immortal forebears have not been found.
The Legend of the Pineapple Fruit
There was a pretty little girl called Pina who was pampered by her mother as an only child. Everything that Pina asked for, Pina got. Everything that Pina scoffed at was taken away. No one in her village was ever so spoiled as Pina. No one was ever such a snobbish child. She was so lazy, and she had never stirred a finger to work in her life.
Pina’s mother was perfectly happy that way, for Pina remained dependent on her as a spoiled child. But one day, Pina’s mother fell ill and there was no one to take care of Pina. She resolved that she would get well immediately for Pina’s sake – but she knew she would need help.
"Pina, Pina," she called weakly, from her cot. "Come here a moment. I have something to ask of you."
Pina had never been asked to do anything in her life, and she was quite prepared to refuse, but she said anyway, "What is it, Mother?"
"Pina," said the doting mother, "I am too sick to make you anything to eat. I am too sick to eat anything solid. I need you to cook lugaw for me, Pina. It is very easy: just put some rice in a pot, pour some water in with it, add a pinch of sugar, and leave the mixture to boil for a while."
"Oh, that’s too hard! I won’t do it," Pina said firmly.
"You have to, Pina!" her mother pleaded. "What will your poor Nanay eat?"
But Pina was immovable. At length her mother resorted to shouting if only to catch her attention. Moping, Pina dragged her heavy feet down the stairs to gather the things she needed to make lugaw. She managed to find the rice, the water, the bowl, the sugar – but she could not find the ladle anywhere. How was she supposed to cook lugaw without a ladle?
"Nanay, where is the ladle?" Pina shouted.
"It is beside the other kitchen utensils, Pina, you know where I keep them," her mother weakly shouted back.
But the ladle was not anywhere near the other kitchen utensils, and Pina was too lazy to look for it elsewhere. "I can’t find the ladle, mother," she complained. "I guess I won’t be cooking without the ladle."
"Oh, you lazy child," Pina’s mother wept. "You won’t even look! I hope you grow a thousand eyes so you’ll be able to find it!" After saying these words, Pina’s mother noticed that the house had fallen silent. Pina was no longer griping downstairs! That was a marvel. Perhaps she was already cooking. Pina’s mother would be happy if the child would cook her anything, even if it were burnt.
But a long time had passed, and still the house was silent, and still Pina’s mother could not smell the cooking coals burning. She began to get worried. With all her meager strength she called out for Pina. Pina did not come, but the neighbors heard her pitiful cries, and they decided to drop by to see what was wrong. They took care of Pina’s mother in the child’s place.
"Where is Pina?" Pina’s mother asked at once. "Where is my child?"
"Oh, you know that girl," they assured her, "she must be in some friend’s house, having a good time. She hates responsibility. She may only be a little angry at you because you had asked her to work. It will pass, and she will come home."
Pina’s mother rested easily with that thought, and she recovered quickly. But she was up and about and asking all around town for her precious little child, and still Pina had not returned.
One sunny day, while Pina’s mother was cleaning their back yard, she saw a strange yellow fruit about as large as the head of a child that had sprung up from the ground. "How curious!" she thought, and bent to examine it. The strange, spiny yellow fruit, she saw, had a thousand black eyes.
"A thousand eyes...!" she gasped, remembering a mother’s curse carelessly let out. "My Pina!"
But there was nothing to be done. Imagine a thousand black eyes and not one of them seeing, and not one of them being able to shed a tear. Pina’s mother, who still loved the child more than anything in the world, decided to honor her memory by taking the seeds of the strange yellow fruit and planting them. When after a while there was more of the fruit, Pina’s mother gave her harvest away to everyone she knew. Thus Pina, in another form, became generous to others.
To this day the Filipinos call the yellow fruit pinya, after the pretty spoiled child.
Legend of the Banana Plant
In the early days when the world was new, spirits and ghosts lurked everywhere. They lived in gloomy caves, they hid in anthills and tree trunks they frolicked in nooks and corners under the houses. In the dark, sometimes their tiny voices could be heard dimly, or their ghostly presence be felt. But they were never seen.
It was during these days of phantoms and unseen spirits that a young and beautiful girl lived. Her name was Raya, and she was a girl bold and daring. She was never afraid of spirits. She would walk in the shadowy forests, bringing along a lighted candle. Then she would tiptoe into dark and dirty caves, searching the place for spirits. Raya only felt or heard them never having seen them. But Raya always felt the presence of one kind spirit, whenever she walked in the forest the spirit was with her at all times.
One day she heard someone call her name, and she looked up to see a young handsome man. She asked him who he was, and he replied that his name was Sag-in, and he was the spirit who followed her around, and even confessed that he had fallen in love with a mortal.
They married had a child and lived happily, but Sag-in knew that his time on earth was short for he was a spirit-man, and would have to return to the spirit world soon. When he knew his time had come, he called Raya and explained why he had to leave. As he was slowly vanishing, he told Raya that he would leave her a part of him. Raya looked down and saw a bleeding heart on the ground. She took the heart and planted it. She watched it night and day. A plant with long green leaves sprouted from the grave.
One day, the tree bore fruit shaped like a heart. She touched the fruit and caressed it. Thinking could this be Sag-in's heart? Slowly the fruit opened , Long golden fruits sprouted from it. Raya picked one, peeled it and bit into it. Then, she heard Sag-in's voice floating in the air:
"Yes, Raya, it is my heart. I have reappeared to show you that I will never forsake you and our child. Take care of this plant, and it will take care of you in return. It's trunk and leaves will give you shelter and clothing. The heart and fruits will be your food. And when you sleep at night, I will stand and watch by your window. I will stay by your side forever!
The Legend of Fireflies
Lovely little creatures, glittering, sparkling, throwing fragments of light in the dark night skies. How did the fireflies or alitaptap come about?
Once, along time ago, in the valley of Pinak in Central Luzon, one of the islands in the Philippines. There was a deep large lake rich with fish. There, the people of Pinak fished for their food, and always, there was plenty for all. Then suddenly, the big river dried up. In the shallow mud, there wasn't a fish to catch. For months, there were no rains. Out in the fields, the land turned dry. The rice-stalks slowly withered. Everywhere in Pinak, there was hunger. Night after night, the people of Pinak prayed hard.
"Dear Bathala," they would recite together in their small and poorly-built chapel, " send us rains, give us food to eat. For the people are starving, and there is want among us!"
Then one black and starless night, the good Bathala answered the prayers of the faithful people of Pinak. For suddenly up in the dark skies appeared a blaze of gold! A beautiful chariot of gold was zooming thru the sky. The people started to panic but a big booming voice came from the chariot soothing them with words.
" I am Bula-hari, and I have come with my wife, Bitu-in. We are sent to the heavens to rule Pinak from now on. We have come to give you good life!" As Bulan-hari spoke, the black skies burst open. The rain fell in torrents. Soon the dry fields bloomed again. The large lake rose and once again was filled with fish. The people were happy once more under the rulership of Bulan-hari.
Soon Bulan-hari and Bitu-in had a daughter. She grew up to be a beautiful maiden. Such long dark hair! Such lovely eyes under long curling lashes! Her nose was chiselled fine. Her lips like rosebuds. Her skin was soft and fair like cream. They named her Alitaptap for on her forehead was a bright sparkling star.
All the young, brave handsome men of Pinak fell in love with Alitaptap. They worshipped her beauty. They sang songs of love beneath her windows. They all sought to win her heart.
But alas! the heart of Alitaptap wasn't human. She was the daughter of Bulan-hari and Bitu-in, who burst from the sky and were not of the earth. She had a heart of stone, as cold and as hard as the sparkling star on her forehead. Alitaptap would never know love.
Then one day, an old woman arrived at the palace. Her hair long and dirty. her clothing tattered and soiled. Before the king Bulan-hari, Balo-na, the old, wise woman whined in her sharp voice... that she had come from her dwelling in the mountains to bear the king sad news. The news being that she saw the future in a dream and it betold of their fate... the warriors of La-ut are coming with their mighty swords to conquer the land, the only solution is to have a marriage between Alitaptap and one of the young men, so as to have a heir to win the war.
At once Bulan-hari pleaded with his daughter to choose one of the young men in their village. But how could the beautiful maiden understand? Alitaptap's heart of stone merely stood in silence. Bulan-hari gripped his sword in despair... " Alitapatap!" he bellowed in the quiet palace, "You will follow me, or you will lay dead this very minute!"
But nothing could stir the lovely young woman's heart. Bulan-hari blind with anger and fear of the dark future finally drew his sword. Clang! the steel of his sword's blade rang in the silence of the big palace. It hit the star on Alitaptap's lovely forehead!
The star burst! Darkness was everywhere! Until a thousand chips of glitter and light flew around the hall. Only the shattered pieces of the star on Alitaptap's forehead lighted the great hall, flickering as though they were stars with tiny wings.
Alitaptap, the lovely daughter from the heavens lay dead.
And soon, Balo-na's prediction had come true. Riding in stamping wild horses, the warriors of La-ut came like the rumble and clashes of lightning and thunder. They killed the people of Pinak, ruined crops, poisoned the lake. They spread sorrow and destruction everywhere.
When it all ended, the beautiful, peaceful valley of Pinak had turned into an empty and shallow swamp. At night, there was nothing but darkness. But soon, tiny sparkles of light would flicker and lend glimmers of brightness in the starless night.
And so, the fireflies came about. Once, a long time ago, they were fragments from the star on the forehead of Bulan-hari's daughter, the beautiful Alitaptap.
Legend of the Dama de Noche
A thousand years ago, there was a rich maharlika, or nobleman, who spent his early bachelor days recklessly, wining and dining in the company of nobility. He drank the finest wines, ate the most delectable food and enjoyed the company of the loveliest, perfumed and bejewelled women of the noble class.
After years of this kind of life, the maharlika finally felt it was time to settle down and marry the woman of his choice. "But who is the woman to choose?" he asked himself as he sat in the rich splendour of his home, "All the women I know are beautiful and charming, but I am tired of the glitter of their jewels and the richness of their clothes!" He wanted a woman different from all the women he saw day and night, and found this in a simple village lass. She was charming in her own unaffected ways, and her name was Dama.
They married and lived contentedly. She loved him and took care of him. She pampered him with the most delicious dishes, and kept his home and his clothes in order. But soon, the newness wore off for the maharlika. He started to long for the company of his friends. He took a good look at his wife and thought, she is not beautiful and she does not have the air of nobility abouther, she does not talk with wisdom. And so the maharlika returned to his own world of glitter and splendor. He spent his evenings sitting around with his friends in their noble homes , drank and talked till the first rays of the sun peeped from the iron grills of their ornate windows.
Poor Dama felt that she was losing her husband. She wept in the silence of their bedroom. "I cannot give my husband anything but the delights of my kitchen and the warmth of my bed. He is tired of me." She looked to the heavens. "Oh, friendly spirits! Help me. Give me a magic charm. Just one little magic charm to make my husband come home again, that he will never want to leave my side, forever!"
It was midnight when the maharlika came home. He opened the door of their bedroom and called for Dama to tell her to prepare his nightclothes. "Dama! Dama, where are you?" he called. He shouted all around the bedroom. He sarched the whole house. Still the nobleman could not find his simple wife. Finally the nobleman returned to their bedroom, tired and cross. But, as he opened the door, he stopped.
A are scent, sweet and fragrant, drifted to him. It was a scent he had never smelled before. He entered the room and crossed to the window where the scent seemed to be floating from. A strange bush was growing outside the window. Some of its thin branches had aleady reached the iron grills and were twisting around. And all over the bush were thousands of tiny starlike, white flowers, from which burst forth a heavenly, enchanting scent!
He stood there, completely enraptured by the glorious smell. "Dama..." he whispered softly, onderingly, could this be Dama? The rich maharlika sat by the window, and waited for the return of his loving simple wife. But she did not come back. She never returned to him again. Only the fragrance of the flowers stayed with him, casting a spell over his whole being.
In the moonlight, Dama of the night, or Dama de Noche would be in full bloom, capturing the rich maharlika, making him never want to leave her side, forever.