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Stories of Creation as told by Philippine Groups
by The FHL Research Team
Date: 1/18/2005

There are countless versions of how different groups tell the story of creation. It is no surprise that the narratives of how the earth and its people came to be are as numerous as the number of groups that choose to tell them. Following are a few of these stories as told by some Philippine groups:

The Story of Creation (Tinguian)
The Story of Creation (Ifugao)
Legend About the Creation of the World as Told by the Mangians and the Negritos
The Creation of the World (Bikol)

The Story of Creation (Tinguian)

The Tinguianes believe that in the beginning were only the sea and the sky; and that one day a kite, having no place to alight, determined to set the sea against the sky.

Accordingly, the sea declared war against the sky, and threw her waters upward. The sky, seeing this, made a treaty of peace with the sea. Afterward, to avenge himself upon her for having dared to assert herself, they say that he showered upon the sea all the islands of this archipelago, in order to subdue her; and that the sea ran to and fro without being able to rise again. They say that from this event arose the custom of the mavaris – that is, taking vengeance for an insult received, a very common practice in this land; and they consider it a point of honor to take revenge. Then they relate also the story of the reed and how the aforesaid man and woman came out. They add that the first time when Cavahi gave birth to children, she brought forth a great number at once. One day the father went home, very angry and threatened the children. The latter were frightened and fled; some into the most hidden rooms of the house; some hid in other places nearer the open air; some hid themselves in the dindines, or walls of the houses, which are constructed of reeds; some hid in other places nearer the open air, some in the fireplace; and some fled to the sea through the same door by which the father had entered. It is said that those who fled to the most hidden rooms are the chiefs of these islands; those who remained nearer the outside are the timaguas; those who hid themselves within the walls are the slaves; those who hid themselves in the fireplace are the blacks; and those who fled out to the sea through the open door, are the Spaniards, and that they had no news of us (Spaniards) until they beheld us return through the sea.

Miguel de Loarca, Relacion de las Islas Filipinas in B & R, V, 125-127. Title supplied.

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The Story of Creation (Ifugao)

To the Ifuao’s, Mak-no-ngan was the greatest of all the gods. It was he, they believed, who created the earth and the place of the dead.

The place of the dead was divided into many sections. The most important of these sections were Lagud and Daya. Lagud was set aside for those who died of sickness. They were the most favored my Mak-no-ngan. Daya was set aside for those who died of violence. They remained restless and unhappy, until their deaths were avenged by their relatives.

After Mak-no-ngan created the earth, he made Uvigan in his image. Uvigan, then, was the first man. Mak-no-ngan gave him the entire earth to enjoy. But he remained unhappy just the same, because he was lonely.

Seeing this, Mak-no-ngan made Bugan, the first woman. Then he told Uvigan, “Take this woman and be happy with her.” And for many years the couple lived in innocence, happiness, and peace.

Now, on the earth, there grew a tree which was different from any other. From the very beginning, Mak-no-ngan had warned the couple against it. “Don’t eat its fruit,” he told them, “because it is evil. It will only make you unhappy.”

But Mak-no-ngan’s warning only made Bugan all the more curious about the tree – especially since it was beautiful and its fruit looked tempting. She tried hard to keep away from it, but she could not help herself. Again and again, almost against her will, her feet would lead her to it. And her mouth would water as she gazed at the ripe fruit.

Finally, Bugan could not contain herself any longer. One day, she went straight to the tree, plucked one of the fruit, and sank her teeth into it. It was good. She liked it so much that she was seized with a desire to share it with Uvigan.

And so she went to Uvigan, saying, “Here, Uvigan, taste this.”

Isn't that the fruit that Mak-no-ngan forbade us to eat? Uvigan wanted to know.

"Yes, and it's very good," said Bugan. "It tastes better than any other fruit I've eaten."

"But what will Mak-no-ngan say?" asked Uvigan.

"He doesn't need to know," said Bugan.

"He will, though," said Uvigan. "He's a god, and he has ways of finding out."

"Then why didn't he punish me the moment I plucked the fruit?" Bugan asked.

"Just the same, it's wrong and wicked of you to have plucked and eaten the fruit," Uvigan pointed out. "You should not have disobeyed Mak-no-ngan.

"Well," said Bugan, "I don't see, anyway, why he should have forbidden us to eat the fruit in the first place, unless he wants to save it for himself. But he can't possibly eat all of it. There's plenty and to spare."

"Perhaps you're right," agreed Uvigan. "Let me have a bite of the fruit."

Bugan gave it to him. He took a bite, and another, and another, as his eyes lighted with pleasure.

Nothing happened to Uvigan and Bugan right away. But little by little, they grew discontented and unhappy. And they began to quarrel with each other. For evil had entered their lives.

Uvigan and Bugan bore many children. But they were all unruly, disobedient, and troublesome. And after some years, Uvigan died in deep sorrow, leaving Bugan alone to run the household.

The children of Uvigan and Bugan grew more and more wicked, until Mak-no-ngan could no longer control his anger. To punish them, he caused the rice plants to wither and die; so that, in the end, they had nothing to eat.

Filled with pity for her hungry and suffering children, Bugan knelt on the ground and prayed that they might live. Then, with a great effort, she took hold of her breast and pressed them hard, until two streams of milk flowed to the ground.

Bugan's milk kept some of her children alive for a while, but, as it slowly ran out, she became more and more anxious about the welfare of her children. And she continued to press her breasts harder and harder, until blood flowed in torrents to the ground.

Seeing Bugan's sacrifice, Mak-no-ngan took pity on her and on her children. And so he made ihe rice plants grow once more. This time, however, some o£ the plants bore white grains; while the others bore red grains. The white grains were Bugan's milk, while the red grains were her blood.

I.V. Mallari and Laurence L. Wilson, Tales from the Mountain Province (Manila: Philippine Education Company, 1958), pp. 2-4

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Legend About the Creation of the World as Told by the Mangians and the Negritos

Away back in the long ago the earth did not exist, and there was only a vast immense sea formed by a huge ocean.

Once after the end of the long and painful imprisonment of King Manaul by his opponent King Tubluck Lawi after a bloody war which they fought with the result of the rout of King Manaul, and after Manaul had broken the enormous chain with which he was fastened, he went out flying into space with the intention of avenging himself on his most fierce and feared enemy, Tubluck Lawi.

Many years passed during which King Manaul wandered through the air, flying hither and thither without finding any place where he could alight and rest from his long and tiresome journey. He declared himself the enemy of the earth and of the sky. These, in fury at such boldness, tried to punish King Manaul. The liquid element sent out waves which raised themselves in anger, like tremendous peaks, scattering foam and minute particles of water into space. The sky, in its turn, called to its assistance Canauay and Aminhan, the gods who rule the air, to send out furious winds. The sky discharged a torrential rain. They tried to punish him, but King Manaul, light and agile, with his powerful wings, always escaped and mocked at the infuriated elements, withdrawing lightly from their colossal discharges.

Days and months went by, and then years. But no one yielded a bit in his boasting. At last both grew weary, and having resolved to conclude their long and quarrelsome rivalry, begged to know each other's desires.

King Manaul begged that he be given light, and instantly there appeared revolving about him an immense number of little lights produced by a multitude of fireflies. Further, he desired counselors, and in a trice he had every kind of bird at his side.

Seeing some exceedingly fine chicks, he could not restrain his gluttony, and in one bound ate up all that were there. Since there were no other chicks on which to satiate his appetite, he began successively to devour and eat, first among the smaller birds, and ending with the largest ones.

His other bird counselors, on the other hand, began to devour his small fireflies, until not the least sign of them appeared.

Angered by so gross an insult, he called his owls, which by chance were passing that place, and swore to them that they should be punished for such a villainy. So he obliged them to stay awake during the night, and gave them double-sized eyes, so that in the future they might see better and not eat his beloved fireflies. From that time, and the desires of King Manaul having been fulfilled, we see owls with their big eyes that are wakeful during night, suffering still the punishment of King Manaul.

Enter the king of the air, many of whose counselors Manaul had devoured. His wrath was boundless. He stamped his feet, and vomitted up terrible lightnings, thunderbolts, and whirlwinds. He sought aid from King Cantan of the Higuecinas, or the genius of the men of the sea, in order to punish the boldness of Manaul. He (Captan) sent from the sky huge rocks and stones to crush Manaul, but this had no result, for it was avoided by King Manaul.

Here the earth found its beginning, for then Manaul, findling a support in those big stones made them remain fixed forever. They having become his dwelling, King Manaul lived happily forever. Those lands had their beginning from that time and are still here today. Thanks to the rage of Captan against Manaul, the world had its beginning.

The Robertson Translations of the Pavon Manuscripts of 1838-1839 D. "Stories of the Indios of the Olden Time and of Today," pp. 3-4.

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The Creation of the World (Bikol)

Thousands and thousands of years ago, there was a time when the space occupied by the universe was vacant. The moon, the sun, the stars, and the earth were conspicuous by their absence. Only the vast expanse of water and the sky above it could be seen. The kingdom of the sky was under the rule of the great god Languit while the water was under the sovereignty of the god Tubigan.

Languit had a daughter called Dagat, the Sea, who became the wife of Paros, the wind, who was the son of Tubigan.

Four children were born to Dagat and Paros, three of whom were boys called Daga, Aldao, and Bulan, and one girl named Bitoon.

Daga, a strong man, possessed a body of rock; Aldao, a jolly fellow, had a body of gold; Bulan, a copper-made man, was a weakling; while the beautiful Bitoon was made of pure silver.

After the death of the father Paros, Daga being the eldest son, succeeded in the control of the winds. Soon after, Dagat, the mother died,leaving her children under the care of the grandparents Languit and Tubigan.

After assuming the control of the winds, Daga became arrogant and ambitious, desiring to gain more power, so he induced his younger brothers to attack the kingdom of Languit. At first, thsy refused; at Daga's anger, Bulan and Aldao were constrained to join Daga in his plot.

Preparations were made and when everything was ready they set out on their expedition and began to attack the gates of the sky. Failure to open the gates, Daga let loose the winds in all directions so that the gate was destroyed and the brothers succeeded in gaining an entrance. But they were met by the enraged god Languit who sent out three bolts of lightning after them. All of them were struck by lightning. The copper body of Bulan melted into a ball so also with the golden body of Aldao. Daga's body fell into the sea and became what is now the earth.

Their sister Bitoon, on discovering the absence of her brothers went out to Seek for them. But upon meeting the enraged god Languit, Bitoon was struck also by another bolt of lightning which broke her body into many pieces.

Then Languit descended from the sky and called Tubigan and accused him of helping their grandsons in their attack on his kingdom. But Tubigan defended himself saying he has no knowledge about the attack for he was asleep far down into the sea. Tubigan succeeded in pacifying Languit and the two regretted and wept the loss of thair grandchildren. Since they could not revive them, they gave to each body a light.

Thus the body of Bulan became the moon, Aldao became the sun, and the beautiful Bitoon became the stars in the heaven. But to Daga they did not give light and his body gave rise to the land on earth.

Tubigan then planted a seed which grew up into a bamboo tree. From one of its branches, came a man and a woman who became the first parents of the human race.

Three children were born to them. One called Maisog, invented a fish trap. One day he caught such a very big and grotesque looking whale that he thought it was a god. So he ordered his people to worship it. The people gathered around and began to pray; but so sooner had they begun when gods from the sky appeared and commanded Maisog to throw the whale to the water and worship no one but the gods. But Maisog was not afraid and defied the gods, Languit, the king of the sky, struck Maisog with a lightning and stunned him. Then he scattered the people over the earth as a punishment. In this way the earth was peopled.

Maisog's body was blackened by the lightning and all his descendants are black.

But Maisog's first son was carried to the north and became the parent of the white people.

His other children were brought to the south where the sun was hot that it scorched their bodies so that all their people were of brown color.

The other people were carried to the east where they had to feed on clay due to scarcity of food. Because of this diet, their descendants were of yellow color.

In this way the earth came into being.

Rosario Bonto, "Bikol Folklore, in H. Otley Beyer, Ethnography of the Bicol People, Vol. II, Paper No. 65, pp. 1-3.

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