Legends Among the People of Batangas by Leon Bibiano Meer, 1916 - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore Legends Among the People of Batangas by Leon Bibiano Meer, 1916 - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

Legends Among the People of Batangas by Leon Bibiano Meer, 1916

This page contains the complete transcription of the 1916 ethnographic paper written by one Leon Bibiano Meer from .jpeg scans of the originals made available by the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections. Corrections for grammar had been made in certain parts but no attempt was made to rewrite the original paper. Original pagination is indicated for citation purposes.

Henry Otley-Beyer Collection

[Cover page.]

Tagalog Paper No. 53.
(Folklore #160)



Leon Bibiano Meer


  1. TAGALOG: Batangas, Province of Batangas, Luzon.
  2. Folklore: Legends.

March, 1916

[p. 1]


Leon Bibiano Meer

Legends constitute the most interesting treasures of any community. A country’s history, as a matter-of-fact, cannot expect many readers unless it is enriched with legends.

The people of Batangas probably have the most interesting legends. Despite the fact that customs, beliefs, traditions, and literature – and hence also – are refracted by their media, yet the legends of the people of Batangas still retain their primitive charm and splendor. These legends not only serve to make the history of Batangas interesting, but they also constitute the first lessons of children. Parents are in the habit of telling or repeating legends to their children with the end in view of instilling in them those virtues that make up right men and women. This is possible, because the legends usually establish good lessons. On the other hand, some parents, on account of their ignorance and primitiveness, fail to see the good lessons taught by the legends and instead lit up horror, fear, and superstitions into children’s minds. This they unconsciously effect by giving much emphasis on these horrible beings and phenomena that usually come to play in legends. So much for the effect of legends. We shall now read some of these legends.

All the legends I know of, except one, are connected with the terrific Taal Volcano and with the historic Bombon Lake.

[p. 2]

The Legend of Don Pablo.

Don Pablo lived somewhere around the crater of Taal Volcano. He was believed to be in possession of many sorts of amulets (anting-anting) which enabled him to do miracles and deeds of wonder. He became very popular and his name reached not only the surrounding region but even as far as the Visayas and Mindanao. Three Moros who were also known for their valor and miraculous power, on hearing the wonderful deeds performed by Don Pablo, at once started for Taal Volcano for the purpose of challenging this man.

Don Pablo was resting under a mango tree which stood near the door of his house when the Moros came. On being asked who he was, he said that he was the servant of Don Pablo, who was at the time out fishing. The Moros started displaying their powers. One jumped over Don Pablo’s house; the other took a big iron rod and divided it into two equal parts with his bare hands; the last one took up a plowshare and gnawed it, tearing off a part. Don Pablo was not surprised at all. He invited the Moros to come up to the house with him; and then told his wife to prepare for the dinner. No sooner said than done; the table was soon ready. The first thing that was served was a big plate full of rice. Don Pablo put the so-called “tutong” (a layer of burned and hardened rice) above or at the top. The Moros were then forced to take up the tutong first. Now, Don Pablo began to display his power. Not one of the Moros could tear off even a small fraction from the tutong. The Moros were very much embarrassed and ashamed,

[p. 3]

and began thinking of the power of Don Pablo. One of the Moros said to his companions, “If we feel helpless with the servant of Don Pablo, how much more would we be helpless before Don Pablo himself.” The Moros, very much ashamed, left the table. Then Don Pablo took a sugar cane stalk and gave it to the Moros, begging them to divide it among themselves. Again the Moros were worsted (?); they were not able to divide the sugarcane stalk. After this, the Moros bade goodbye to Don Pablo. Don Pablo led them downstairs. He placed his mortar right in front of the ladder, and then asked the Moros to jump over it. Again the Moros were worsted, for not one of them could jump over the mortar which was only two feet high.

The Moros extended their final farewell to Don Pablo, who now introduced himself as the King of Taal Volcano. The Moros went away and never returned.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The following legend is connected with Bombon Lake. It is believed that many hundred years before, there was no such thing as Bombon Lake, and that this was the product of a great event which the following legend will unfold.

Many years before, perhaps hundreds of years ago, the present site occupied by Bombon Lake was a vast coconut plantation. It was the favorite haunt of young men and young ladies.

One day, late in the afternoon, a joyous gang of young men and young ladies started for the coconut plantation. While they

[p. 4]

were passing though some tall coconut trees, a young lady happened to like the nuts of one particular tree. The gentlemen refused to climb up that particular tree because of the presence at the top of a large serpent, which was known to have a “gula” (a big bright thing brighter than [unreadable word], in the mouth of the serpent). The girl was trying the courage of the young men. She said that she would give her hand to the one who could get some nuts for her from that particular tree. All the young men who were with her refused to take nuts for her. Soon, a poor peasant came along. The girl, believing that the peasant was aware of the presence of the serpent on the coconut tree, asked him to take some nuts for her for which she would give her hand in exchange. An agreement was soon made, and a sort of document was drawn up.

The poor peasant climbed up the tree with a bolo. While he was about to fell down some nuts, the serpent appeared and challenged his safety. The peasant hit the serpent on the head with his bolo. Before he let fall the serpent, he took the “gula” from its mouth. Then he got some nuts and threw them down. After this, he descended.

The girl was very much surprised. She did not think that the peasant would dare to climb the tree. The marriage was soon planned. Although it was an unexpected one, gigantic preparations were soon made and in a few days, everything was ready. The whole church was covered with carpet. Likewise, the passage from the church to the house of the girl was

[p. 5]

covered with carpet. Hanging lanterns of different colors and shapes were put up along the way from the girl’s house to the church. In short, the affair was unprecedented. It appeared miraculous and strange to all of the inhabitants of the region and those of the neighboring country.

The marriage ceremony was begun and for five consecutive days it did not cease. After the fifth day of the ceremony, the joy and pride that were reigning in the hearts of the performers of the great miracle, as it were, were soon deposed by fear and humiliation. Loud peals of thunder were sent from the heavens; horrible electric discharges were noticed; the cloud covered the heavens and there was darkness; terrible earthquakes shook the earth, and the region became a deep depression; and then hard rain continued for more than a fortnight, and filled the depression with water. The Bombon Lake was formed.

The above legend establishes a good lesson. It teaches that we must never resort to pride and display of power.

The Legend of Maria Makiling.

The people in the town of Santo Tomas, particularly the people in the barrios, are familiar with the many stories about Maria Makiling. A good number of the townspeople state that not many years ago, a certain cave in Makiling Mountain was inhabited by an “encantada.” This “encantada” was very charitable, and always helped the poor. She lent many things to the needy poor. She lent marriage suits or dresses, plates, cups, cutlery, and even jewels. The needy poor went to the cave and begged the “encantada”

[p. 6]

to lend them some articles, mentioning the particular objects they wanted. The articles asked for appeared at once, but the “encantada” was never seen, although many said that she talked with the borrowers in some cases.

It so happened that a borrower was not able to return a borrowed article. This Maria Makiling did not like, and she stopped lending articles to the people.

Notes and references:
Legends Among the People of Batangas,” by Leon Bibiano Meer, online at the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.
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