Mga Alamat ng Prutas
Here are the origin myths of seven popular Filipino fruits.
Ang Alamat ng Mangga
The Legend of the Mango
There was once a man named Daeogdog who lived in a quiet village in the Aklan province. He was known for his quick, explosive temper and for always trying to get his way. Thus, it was no surprise when he forced his beautiful and gentle daughter, Aganhon, into an engagement with Maeopig, a young man who was as quarrelsome and domineering as he was. Aganhon begged her father to end the engagement, but he
refused, insisting on the match.
On the day of the wedding, Aganhon was nowhere to be found. The bridal party searched high and low, until someone finally ventured into a nearby stream and stumbled upon the young bride’s lifeless body, with a dagger piercing her breast.
Stricken with grief and remorse, Daeogdog dreamt of his daughter on the night of her funeral. In the dream, Aganhon led her father to a tree that grew on the spot where they found her body. As soon as he woke, Daeogdog rushed to the stream and found the same tree, its branches heavy with bright yellow fruits that were shaped like hearts. He sampled one and found it to be as sweet and tender as the heart of the daughter whose feelings he callously disregarded. He called it “mangga” (mango), which meant “heart-shaped” in their ancient tongue.
Ang Alamat ng Bayabas
The Legend of the Guava
Before the Spaniards landed in the Philippines, the island of Sulu was ruled by a sultan named Barrabas. He was selfish and cruel, and was never seen without his crown.
One day, Sultan Barrabas was feasting on a massive banquet by himself when a beggar child appeared out of nowhere and begged him for a bite to eat. At first, the sultan ignored the the child and went on gorging himself. The child persisted in begging for food, and even resorted to tugging at the sultan’s leg to get his attention.
In a fit of impatience, Sultan Barrabas grabbed a steaming bowl of soup and dumped its contents over the child’s head. The beggar boy then abruptly vanished, as the sultan collapsed to the floor. He died shortly after, and was given a funeral without much fanfare.
Some months after a new sultan was crowned, a tree took root on the previous ruler’s grave. On its branches hung fruits with protrusions on the bottom that looked like tiny crowns, much like the one that Sultan Barrabas never took off. It wasn’t long before people started calling the small green orbs “barrabas” (which later became bayabas), after the king whose face and disposition was as sour as the fruit’s flesh.
Ang Alamat ng Saging
The Legend of the Banana
There was once a farmer named Mang Pedro who had a beautiful daughter named Juana. Mindful of their only child’s extraordinary beauty, Mang Pedro and his wife forbade Juana from consorting with young men. Juana was a dutiful daughter and obeyed her parents’ wishes, until one day when she met a
handsome young farmer named Aging and the two quickly fell in love.
Juana and Aging found ways to meet in secret. One day, while Juana’s mother left to run errands in town and Mang Pedro was out working the fields, Aging took the opportunity to visit Juana. The two were so engrossed in each other that neither noticed the sky growing dark. When Mang Pedro arrived home and saw Aging inside, the young man’s arm resting on the windowsill, he was enraged. Mang Pedro severed the unfortunate suitor’s arm with one swing of his bolo (knife).
Reeling from pain and shock, Aging ran out of the house. Juana chased after her suitor, but couldn’t catch up with him. Night fell and the only sign of Aging that remained was his severed arm. Juana took it and tearfully buried it in their yard. Her act of devotion was rewarded the next morning, when a
strange new tree sprang from their garden. It had a tall green stalk, graceful branches, and long yellow fruits that curved like fingers. These fruits came to be known as saging (banana).
Ang Alamat ng Pinya
The Legend of the Pineapple
There was once a girl named Pina who lived on a fruit plantation with her mother. While her mother worked hard, toiling day and night, Pina was lazy and would spend all her time playing with her friends. When her mother would ask her to do something, she would always reply that she couldn’t find the things she needed, even if it was right in front of her eyes.
One day, her mother fell ill and couldn’t get up to cook. So she asked Pina to cook some rice. But, Pina being her lazy self, said, “I can’t find the pot, so what am I going to make the rice in?” Her mother told her where the pot was. Then she said, “Where is the ladle, how am I going to cook without a ladle?” Again her sick mother had to tell her where it was.
Pina did the same with the salt, rice and water! Enraged by Pina’s behavior, her mother cursed, “You lazy child, you won’t even look! I hope you grow a thousand eyes so you’ll be able to find it”, and went back to sleep.
When she awoke, there was no trace of the girl. She and her neighbors searched and searched, but never found her. After a few days, a strange, spiny yellow fruit with thousands of little “eyes” was found on the plantation. When Pina’s mother saw the fruit, she was immediately reminded of the hasty curse she
spat at her daughter. In her grief she named this fruit “Pina”, which later became pinya, after her daughter.
Ang Alamat ng Makopa
The Legend of the Rose Apple
There was once a tiny village in northern Ilocos called Samtay. Unlike other areas, it was never devastated by typhoons or droughts. This was because a benevolent anito (spirit) once gifted its inhabitants with a magic bell as a reward for their kindness and generosity. Whenever the townspeople wanted anything (such as deliverance from a storm or famine), they would just ring the bell and whatever they wished for would be granted them.
Such a remarkable object doesn’t stay secret for long. Soon, the envious neighboring villages started planning to attack Samtay to steal the magic bell. Apo Anong, a Samtay elder, was visiting one such
village when a friend warned him of the plot to invade his hometown. The old man hurried back to Samtay and took the bell deep into the surrounding forest. He rushed back to warn his people about the
oncoming attack, but it was too late. The invaders from the other villages had arrived and, unable to find the bell, ransacked every home. Apo Anong was among those who defended the village and
was killed before he could reveal the bell’s location.
The invaders soon left after their pillaging, leaving the villagers to the ruins of their town. Without the magic bell, the crops dried up and the rain refused to fall. The villagers suffered from scarcity and
hunger for many years, until one of their children ventured into the surrounding forest in search of some wild berries to eat. The little boy stumbled onto an odd-looking tree with juicy red fruits dangling from its branches like little bells. Remembering his grandmother’s stories about the magical bell that once blessed their village, he ran back to tell everyone about his discovery.
The whole village turned out to see the tree and the bell-shaped fruits hanging from it, which they called “makopa”. They dug around to see if the legendary bell was buried underneath, but found nothing, so they uprooted the tree and replanted it back in the village square. Once the tree’s roots had settled onto Samtay’s soil, the skies darkened and rain fell onto the parched earth.
Ang Alamat ng Sili
The Legend of the Chili Pepper
Long ago, in Bicol, there was once a large kingdom ruled by a king and queen, and their son, Prince Siling. The king and queen were dearly loved by their subjects for they were kind and always ready to help all those in need.
One day, the king and queen set sail for Europe, a journey that would take months to complete, but on the third day of their journey they were beset by a storm.
Fearing for his parents, the prince tried to catch up to them as soon as the storm abated, but his worst fears had come to pass: his parents' ship had sunk and they were lost to the sea. The kingdom mourned the loss of their kind rulers, and Prince Siling, in his grief, locked himself away in his room for days, refusing to eat.
Some days later, the prince finally emerged and assumed his duties as king. However, as the months passed, Prince Siling began to change. He became rude, ill-tempered, and quarrelsome. He treated his subjects poorly and was cruel to his servants. A diwata (fairy) who watched over the kingdom saw how the prince treated his people and decided to punish him for his cruelty.
One day, the prince went out walking on his own but did not return. His subjects went in search of him but could find no trace of their prince. A few days later, people started to notice a strange plant growing in the prince's garden. The plant had strange little fruits that were red and smooth-skinned, much like the prince's complexion whenever he became red with anger. From then on people started to call the plant 'sili', whose heat reminded them of their cruel and hot-tempered prince.
Ang Alamat ng Calamansi
The Legend of the Calamansi
The calamansi today are small, very sour fruits. But it wasn't always so...
Long ago, the calamansi was a large, sweet fruit. It was as large as an apple, and so sweet you didn't need to add sugar to drink its juice.
This made the calamansi very proud, saying they were favored by the Mother Goddess, and they looked down on all the other plants.
Their arrogance offended the other plants and angered the Mother Goddess. She decided to punish the calamansi, saying, "I will rid you of the cause of your pride, but you will still be important to people." So she shrank the calamansi and took away its sweetness. "This is to remind you that you lack humility," said the Goddess.
Today, though the calamansi is still useful to us, it is now a very small, very sour fruit.
The second volume of jewelry for Una Artesana is inspired by Filipino folktales about local fruits.
View the collection here.