Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Legend of Rice (Ang Alamat ng Palay)

rice fields in the philippines
Rice fields (Philippines)

When the world was still new, the rice plant has no value. It was just a mere grass. It has no grain or fruit. It doesn’t do anything but to kiss the wind all day long.

One day, it happened that the Chinese goddess Kuan-yin went down to visit the Earth. In her excursion, she saw that everywhere in the four corners of China are people dying of hunger. Her soft heart cannot endure the pain and poverty that she sees and it seems as though her heart will melt with pity. She took a deep breath and said, “Aiya, Ai-ya, I need to act and help these people.”

She silently observed her surroundings. She took interest in a worthless rice plant which sprouted in the alley. She approached it and said, “I will use this humble plant to help my poor people.”

She opened her robe and exposed her white bosom. She squeezed her right breast with her hand and let out drops of milk of life to the rice plant’s panicle. She also squeezed her other breast and let the milk drop on the plant’s empty hulls.

pink rice
milled rice

She squeezed her breasts until there’s no milk coming out anymore. She prayed, “Oh merciful heaven, bless me with a little more drops of milk.” She massaged and squeezed her breasts again until she saw that some drops are coming out but it is mixed with blood. The goddess gave all that she can. She was glad to see that all the panicles became full of rich rice grains.

“Oh noble plant, may your panicle overflow. May we harvest a lot to eliminate hunger in this land.” After she has done her duty, she happily came back to the heavens.

This is how the rice plant yielded its first rice grains. There are varieties which produce white rice as white as Kuan-yin’s milk, and there are also some which yields reddish rice as a reminder of the blood mixed with the last drops of the merciful goddess’ milk.


Sanchez, Geisha, translator. Filipino legends for students. By Rene Alba, Century Publications, 1914, Accessed (day-month-year accessed).

The Legend and the Short History of Pila, Laguna

Once upon a time, before the Spaniards came to the Philippines, in the northwest part of Laguna, which is now the town of Victoria, you will see the original location of the town of Pila. It was known then as “Pagalangan”.
Pila, Laguna at present

57 years after Magellan discovered the Philippines, Reverend P. Juan de Florencia was appointed as the first Parish Priest of the town under the Royal Decree. It was at that year too when the first church in the town was established and San Antonio de Padua was chosen as the town’s Patron Saint.

In the year 1606, the first printing press in the Philippines was established in this town. This was led by Don Tomas Pinpin and Domingo Laog. In 1618, through the efforts of Franciscan priests, the first hospital for Spanish officials, soldiers, and priests was established.
Since then, the town of Pagalangan has been the stopping destination of prominent Spanish officials. Don Antonio Maglilo was appointed as the first town Executive and served for 18 years since 1696.

Based on another book of legends, Laguna Bay was so narrow that the crowing of the rooster from the other side of the lake shall be clearly heard from the other side. Because of its narrowness, it has a tendency to overflow during the rainy season and flood the nearby places. Due to the frequent flooding since the 17th century, the parish priest was forced to relocate the church to a much higher place.

A heated dispute about the relocation site of the church has arisen between the two most prominent dynasties of the town, the Rivera and the Relova. Don Regino Relova y San Antonio wants the church to be relocated to his Barrio San Francisco for the reason that it is the town’s center based on the map. Don Felizardo Rivera, on the other hand, insists that it should be moved to his hacienda in Barrio Bulacan, Sta. Clara on the condition that the residential lands around the plaza will stay under his name. He offered the parish priest an agreement that if the church shall be relocated to his site, he and his family, up to the last generation, will take charge of the renovation and maintenance of the church. The parish priest agreed to this and signed a contract.

Through the leadership of Don Rivera together with the clans of Oca, Ruiz, and de Castro, the planning of the reestablishment of the town of Pagalangan was organized.

One very hot day, while the Franciscan priests were inspecting the relocation site of the church, they discovered that the new site is called Villa de Pila. From then on, the town was named as Pila.

Translated from Rene Alba's "Mga Alamat Pilipino (Para sa Mag-aaral)", published 1914 by Century Publications.


Sanchez, Geisha, translator. Filipino legends for students. By Rene Alba, Century Publications, 1914, Accessed (day-month-year accessed).

The Legend of Liliw, Laguna (Ang Alamat ng Liliw)

The town of Liliw was known before as “Magguap”. It was established in 1571, 50 years after the Spaniards had set foot on the archipelago. Liliw’s location is relatively high, standing about 1,200 foot above the ground. Gat Tayaw was the one who established the town of Liliw. He has a monument now at the heart of the town.


Gat Tayaw is the eldest son of Gat Tapaya. He led the town for 34 years. In that span, he has divided the town into 4 barangays. He has appointed Bansalan to take charge of Ilaya, Barangay Oples to Mandig, and Little Liliw to Pascual Humanda and Liliw Grande to Don Juan Masulong.
Gat Tayaw's Monument

When the town was first established, Gat Tayaw has called for an assembly for the selection of the name of the town. The townspeople placed a bamboo pole at the center of the municipality and posted guards around. People can come to this outpost and suggest names. On the 7th day, a bird perched at the bamboo pole and sang “ILIW, ILIW, ILIW”.  The oldest one among the guards shouted “Liliw, Liliw, Liliw”. The other guards repeated after him. And so, from then on, the town became known as Liliw.

Translated from Rene Alba's "Mga Alamat Pilipino (Para sa Mag-aaral)", published 1914 by Century Publications.


Sanchez, Geisha, translator. Filipino legends for students. By Rene Alba, Century Publications, 1914, Accessed (day-month-year accessed).

The Legend of Gapan in Nueva Ecija (Alamat ng Gapan, Nueva Ecija)

(Gapan, Nueva Ecija)

Long ago, there was a very stubborn kid named Dodoy. He doesn’t follow his mother’s orders. Instead, he does the things that annoy her most.
One morning, Dodoy decided to have a trip in the rice fields. He kept on walking until he doesn’t know where he is already. He got lost to the point that he has no idea of how to come home. Due to exhaustion, he fell asleep under a tree.

Meanwhile, Dodoy’s mother is sick with worry. Someone told her that he saw Dodoy circling the rice fields near a large tree and is seemed to be caught under an enchanted spell.
Dodoy was awakened by a loud cry of a naked infant with a bulging stomach. The baby was lying on a banana leaf on the ground. Dodoy took the baby in his arms and attempted to stop him from crying. It didn’t stop from wailing and this greatly annoyed Dodoy. He was about to slap the baby when it mysteriously transformed into a filthy old man with very long hair and beard. Dodoy was so shocked that he dropped what he was holding and scrammed off his feet.

When he turned his head back, his fear increased for the old man disappeared. He ran and ran but he seemed to be stuck in the same spot. He was trapped in that situation until the sun set down. Exhaustion brought him down to his knees. With his remaining energy, he crawled just to get away from that bamboo grove. 

Dodoy’s mother waited and waited until she saw Dodoy crawling towards their yard. Dodoy was extremely dissipated since he crawled all the way home. It turned out that dwarves jested on him. “That’s what stubborn kids get,” his mother scolded him. Yet, she was glad that her son was back.

From then on, it has become a saying amongst the townspeople that “You might end up like Dodoy, gapang ng gapang (always crawling).” That is why the place near the bamboo grove where Dodoy crawled was named Gapan (from gapang, meaning to crawl). Until now, that town in Nueva Ecija, in the island of Luzon, is still called Gapan.

Translated from Rene Alba's "Mga Alamat Pilipino (Para sa Mag-aaral)", published 1914 by Century Publications.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Ang Alamat ng Ilog Pasig (The Legend of Pasig River)

(Pasig, Manila)

Pasig River, Manila Philippines

Ilog Pasig is one of the most famous rivers in the Philippines. It can be found in the city of Manila. At present, this river is notorious for being filthy and murky, but there was a time when Pasig River is pristine and is a romantic place for lovers…

Long ago, there were two young lovers. The girl was a Filipina named Paz and the gentleman was Spanish.  One night, they decided to boat along a quiet and deep river. The boy was the one paddling the boat while Paz was calmly seated in front of him. The two romantically sailed the length of the river under the moonlight and along the cool breeze.

As they passed along floating water lilies, Paz extended her am and reached for a flower. The guy, not noticing what Paz was up to, got off-balanced and fell into the waters. The guy doesn’t know how to swim so every time his head will pop above the water, he shouts, “Paz, sigueme! Paz, sigueme!” which means, “Paz, rescue me!” Paz tried hard to reach for her lover but she did not succeed. At the last time the boy emerged, all he managed to say was, “Paz, sig…”

The tragic incident spread among the people and from then on, this river was called Pasig. 

Translated from Rene Alba's "Mga Alamat Pilipino (Para sa Mag-aaral)", published 1914 by Century Publications.

Ang Alamat ng Lawa ng Sampalok (The Legend of Sampalok Lake)

 (San Pablo, Laguna)

In the province of Laguna in the Philippines, there is a lake called Sampalok (tamarind) Lake. It is said that this lake does not exist during the early times. This is how the lake emerged:

In the time that Magellan has just discovered the Philippines, a wealthy couple from San Pablo, Laguna owns many land, fruit-bearing trees, and a very beautiful house. One of the trees that they possess is a sampalok (tamarind) tree that bears very sweet fruits. This tree is the main source of their fortune.
Though this couple is famous for their wealth, they are more famous for their bad attitude. They are selfish and greedy, and all they think about is getting money by selling their properties. Because of this, the townspeople despise them. However, they still come to them to buy the extraordinarily sweet tamarind fruits.

One day, an old beggar with torn clothes went to the couple and begged for food. She was shivering from hunger. The two just scornfully stared at the old woman and then ignored her. The beggar continued to beg for food but the couple just kept on ignoring her.
“Your wickedness is unbelievable!” exclaimed the old beggar. “Punishment from the heavens must be brought upon you!” then the beggar’s face suddenly lifted up.

The couple’s faces turned pale. They wanted to scream but they couldn’t. “All you wealth will disappear!” the old lady declared as she tapped her cane against the sampalok tree. The old lady disappeared and water sprung from near the sampalok tree and drowned all the couple’s properties. The couple were not seen after that incident and the people assumed that they too were drowned by the water along with their wealth.

The water that sprung from the sampalok tree eventually became a lake and was called Sampalok Lake.

Translated from Rene Alba's "Mga Alamat Pilipino (Para sa Mag-aaral)", published 1914 by Century Publications.

Ang Alamat ng Malate (The Legend of Malate)

 (Malate, Manila)

Malate is a place that can be found in Manila, Philippines. This extends from Mabini and Harrison near Roxas Boulevard, beside the sea. This is how it got its name:

There were two sibling named Maria and Jose who used to bathe in the sea shore. One day, while they were bathing, some Spanish passed them. These foreigners ask people about their place as a part of their probe. That time, the two children were about to eat their packed food when they noticed that they forgot to bring drinking water. “Maybe it would be better if we just drink the sea water,” suggested the younger Jose. He then ran to the sea to taste the water.

Meanwhile, the Spaniards approached Maria and asked her about the place’s name in Spanish language. Maria didn’t understand them, and called for her brother instead who was tasting the sea water. He shouted the taste to Maria, “MAALAT ATE! MAALAT ATE! (salty sister!)”

The Spanish men heard this and they thought that it was the answer to their question regarding the name of the place. Since then, the Spaniards named the place Malate, from the salty waters of the sea.

Translated from Rene Alba's "Mga Alamat Pilipino (Para sa Mag-aaral)", published 1914 by Century Publications.