Myth on the Origin of Bohol

IJsselstein, Monday, 1 December 2003 16:06:51

As told by an old woman who lived just below the forest of Verde, Duero, Bohol. She was known as Oyang Pinanda, meaning Great Grandma Penanda.

The people were living beyond the sky. One day, the chief's only daughter got sick. The medicine man of the barangay said: "The cure is in the roots of this wild Balili tree. Dig around it and let her arms touch the root".

They dug around the root and they placed the sick girl on the trench, when suddenly, the woman fell through the hole in the sky. Below the sky was a big water. Two gakits saw the woman fall. They caught her lightly on their backs where she rested. The gakits found Big Turtle. When Big Turtle saw the woman, he called a council of all swimming animals. They said: "We must save the woman and make her a home".

The leader commanded the frog: "Dive and bring up dirt from the tree roots." The frog tried and failed.

The mouse tried also and failed. Finally, the Big Toad volunteered: "I will try".

At this, all animals jeered and laugh except Big Turtle who said: "You do well to try. Perhaps you will be lucky".

The old Toad took a long breath and went down, down. At last, a bubble of air came up and the old Toad followed. In its mouth she carried a few grains of sand, which she spread around the edge of Big Turtle's shell. Then an island grew on Big Turtle's back, and it became Bohol island, and the woman lived upon it.

If anyone will examine carefully the shape of the turtle's back , he will find some similarity to the shape of the island of Bohol.

The woman seemed to feel cold. She needed more light to keep her warm. The animals held a council again. Said Little Turtle: "If I could only get up into the sky, I could gather the lightning and make a light".

"You do will try, perhaps you will be luck", said the Big Turtle.

One day, not long after dark, a whirling cloud carried Little Turtle up into the sky where he gathered lightning, and made sun and moon gave light to the woman. During all this time, the woman lived with an old man whom she found on the island. They lived together and gave birth to twin boys. As they grew, one was kind and the other was cruel. Good one prepared Bohol for the coming of people. He made smooth plains, forests, rivers, and many animals. Good one made fishes without scales; Bad one coated them with large scales, hard to scrape off. Bad one went to the west and died. Good one went on improving Bohol and removing evils brought forth by his brother. Last of all, he made Boholanos by taking two lumps of earth and shaped them like human figures. Then he spat on them and they became man and woman. They were endowed by Good One with sterling qualities; like industry, hospitality, obedience, good nature and peace loving.

The two were married and they lived together. Good One gave them seeds of different kinds and planted them. Good One made the great eel, a snake-like fish in the river. He also made the great crab, and let it go wherever it liked. When the great crab bit the great eel, it wriggled, and this movement produced earthquake. That is why Bohol has plenty of crabs (both land and sea), and eels, for they were first created by Good One. Boholanos relish them for food but they always respected the toad. The Boholanos do not eat frogs or toads or land turtles as other Visayans so, no matter how palatable they are as a dish. Many call the old toad grandmother even today. Grandmother toad endowed the Boholanos with sterling qualities.

From Boholano Folklore by Maria Caseņas Pajo.