Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

April 6, 2010
In the Beginning

(a Filipino creation myth)

Long ago, when there was no land, no sun, no moon or stars, a being known as Maguayan ruled the vast, endless sea, and Kaptan ruled the swirling, empty sky. After some time, Kaptan and Maguayan agreed their son and daughter should marry. So Lidagat, Maguayan’s daughter, became the bride of Lihangin, the wind, son of Kaptan.

Time passed, and sea and wind had three sons — Licalibutan, Liadlao and Liblan, and a daughter named Lisuga.

The eldest boy was rock hard and as brave as anyone, while the middle son, hewn of gold, was always filled with joy. The youngest boy was copper, shy and fearful. And Lisuga, the daughter, was beautiful and sweet, made of shimmering silver.

For a long time all was well, and the parents raised their children to celebrate their strengths. Everything they did was for their children’s happiness, but alas, one day Lihangin called his eldest son, Licalibutan, to his side. “I will die soon,” he said, “and when I do I wish for you to control the winds.”

Not long after, Lihangin died, and soon his wife followed him. So the children, with no parents to guide them, roamed the world. From afar, their grandfathers, Kaptan and Maguayan, watched over them.

Licalibutan now controlled the winds, and as time passed, he became more and more pleased with his strength and with his power. One day he resolved to take over the sky and called to his brothers to join him.

“We are the young ones, and it is we who ought to control the sky,” he said.

Liadlao shook his golden head. “My brother, Kaptan is our grandfather. He has always cared for us. He is in control because he does not compete for power.”

But Licalibutan would not listen. “You are showing your weakness! Be brave and proud and strong. It is time for our grandfather to give over the sky to us.”

Liadlao did not wish to anger his brother, and so he looked at Liblan, wondering what his weak brother would say.

Liblan, as usual, bent to his brother’s will. “Licalibutan is older than we are,” he said. “No doubt he is wiser, too, or father would not have given him power over the wind.”

So Liadlao agreed, and the three young men rushed at the sky, pounding on the gates that guarded the entrance. But those gates were stronger than 10,000 men, and no matter how they pushed and pulled and struggled to open them, the gates would not budge.

Finally Licalibutan, in great fury, unleashed all the force of every wind. A moment later the gates exploded wide open, and Kaptan stared at the sight of the young men he called his grandsons invading his world.

“What’s this?” he roared in anger.

The young men were terrified by the dark, hard rage they saw in Kaptan’s eyes, so terrified that they turned to run away, but Kaptan would not let them escape.

He cast three bolts of lightning after them.

The first bolt struck the weakest of them. Liblan dissolved, his body melting into a huge ball of copper. A second bolt struck Liadlao from behind, and he melted into a vast ball of gold.

The third bolt struck Licalibutan, and his rocky body burst into pieces, dropping bit by bit into the vast and empty sea.

Gentle Lisuga had no idea that her brothers had gone to take over the sky, but after a while, she missed them, and so she began to search for them. Thinking her grandfather might know what had happened to them, she headed for the sky, but when she saw the broken gates, she quaked with fear.

“Grandfather,” she called to Kaptan, but her grandfather, still raging, could not stop himself. Blind with fury, he cast another bolt of lightning toward her, and her silver body burst into thousands of shards.

Maguayan was aroused from a deep sleep by the sight of the silver shards pouring from the sky. Struggling to wake, he called to Kaptan, “What have you done? Stop! Stop! Kaptan, calm yourself. You are destroying everything.”

As Maguayan’s voice rose to the heavens, Kaptan calmed himself, and as he did, he realized with horror that he had destroyed every one of his grandchildren. His heart filled with sorrow. He had never wished to compete with his grandchildren.

Kaptan and Maguayan wept at the loss.

“What can we do?” they asked each other, but they knew they did not have the power to restore them to life.

“But we can give them new bodies,” Maguayan said.

And so they did, turning Liadlao, the golden boy, into the sun, and copper Liblan into the moon. The thousands of pieces of silver that had been Lisuga became the stars that fill the heavens.

And then they looked down, and they saw the rocks that had been Licalibutan rising up out of the sea. “He is the land,” they said, and on that land, they planted seeds.

Before long a clump of bamboo trees began to grow out of the rocky soil, and from one of the hollow stems of this tree emerged the first man and the first woman, and it was they who became the parents of the whole human race.

And so, despite their sorrow, Kaptan and Maguayan created the world.

(From the ethnolinguistic group known as the Visayan. Many other Filipino creation myths exist.)

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