The stories of ancient Philippine mythology include deities, creation stories, mythical creatures, and folk beliefs. These vary among the many indigenous tribes of the Philippines. Some groups during the pre-Spanish conquest era believed in a single Supreme Being who created the world and everything in it, while others chose to worship a multitude of Diwatas and/or Anitos. In ancient Bicol, belief in mythical spirits , creatures, and deities were intricately combined into creation myths, epics, and folktales. Here are some of the more prominent characters.
Bicolano Deities in Ancient Philippine Mythology
Languiton – The primal Bicolano god representing the sky. Sovereign of all the flying creatures in the skies.Tubigan – The god of water and the celestial ocean, ruled over all the swimming beast.
Dagat – The divine embodiment of the seas and ocean and daughter of Tubigan who took Paros the winds to be her husband and equal, they ruled over the skies and the seas. Love is one thing stronger than the gods for it killed her and Paros, other belief that they have found contentment and had simply slept, the sky and the sea. When she died/slept from the waters the god Magindang was born.Paros – The divine embodiment of the winds , ever changing, arrogant and polygamous until he was bested by Dagat,he fell in love with her and changed his old ways, they ruled over all the skies and seas. He and Dagat had four powerful children (Daga,Adlao,Bulan and Bituoon). When he died his energy gave birth to the Taong Lipod or the wind people and the trinity of the most powerful gods of Bicol (Cagurangan,Gugurang,Asuang), and to lesser gods such as Onos and Batala
Daga – Enormous as he is strong, his body is made of rocks. Arrogant that he had inherited most of his father’s powers of the wind in addition to his strength. Daga persuaded his bothers to attack Languiton to steal his power but failed. He was struck down and his body became the earth
Adlao – Noticeably happy and optimistic, The golden man, He was reluctant of his brothers plans but loved Daga too much to go against him. He became the sunBulan – Fairest son of Dagat and Paros, He is comely and docile. Bulan obeyed his brothers will without question. He became the beautiful moon, he was restored back to life by the powerful Gugurang and placed him in the “Kamurayan” or Heaven. Bituoon – Lovely and bright and the only daughter of Paros and Dagat, She was of silver, She was accidentally killed by Languiton thus became the stars.Cagurangan – Former supreme to Gugurang and Asuang, until Gugurang proved to be far more powerful and superior. Cagurangan had control over the winds and all the flying beast.Gugurang – The Bicolano Supreme deity who defeated Cagurangan and declared Asuang to be his inferior. He commanded light and fire. Depicted as tall,muscular with silver hair, He once resided in Kamurayan or heavens but left to reside in Mt. Mayon, in his place he placed Bulan in the heavens with the wind people.
“Sa Kapinuon-puonan, An buhay kan katawohan, Dusay lubos ki GugurangNa samuyang kagurangan”
Sa pinaka-simula, ang buhay ng sangkatauhan ay alay lahat kay Gugurang na pinakamakapangyarihan.”
He is the symbol of the good (an mga marhay) ready to punish the bad (an mga maraot). When the people saw fire (calayo) flowing out of the crater of Mayon, they would grow afraid. They would then offer a sacrifice (atang) to him to appease his wrath. The Baliana, priestess, officiated in the ceremony. Always when they committed wrong, there would be loud moaning of the earth followed by an eruption of fire and lava.
Asuang – He was Gugurang’s equal until Gugurang proved he is superior to all. He tried to steal Gugurangs scared fire but failed. He was also from the heavens but descended to Mt. Malinao. Even though he is considered a dark and evil god and of all the beast, he is a fried of the boy Bulan (god of the moon) the two are worshiped side by side by the cross-dressing priests called “Baylan”. Asuang is the father of Oryol was the most beautiful and powerful female in the land of Ibalon before Magayon and her sisters came. Some say he is tall and muscular having long dark hair and is extremely attractive but moonlight reveals his true form which is ugly and monstrous.
Batala – He is a lesser god, kind and helpful. Batala commands the “anito” or all ancestral spirits of men. He is invoked in times of need and trouble. He comes in a form of a bird and is believed to be a middle aged man with a robust physic.Magindang – The powerful god of the sea and ruler of all its creatures. Venerated by fishermen and sea voyagers. He gives bountiful catch and safe passage to all who call to him. He is depicted as tall and muscular with long flowing hair. He is also know to admire the moon Bulan and the reason is to why the tides would rise towards the moon. He was tricked by Oryol who commanded the Magindara (vicious mermaids) to kill the beautiful maiden Malinao.Bulan – (the ancient god re-worshiped) The embodiment of the pale moon, he is depicted as a pubescent boy with uncommon comeliness that made savage beast and the vicious mermaids (Magindara) tame. He was placed in the Kamurayan by Gugurang. Bulan is said to be accompanied by the wind people who act as his surfs and handmaidens and also his warriors. Bulan out of loneliness with the use of starlight created a being in his image, a confidant to keep him company, it was the goddess Haliya. Bulan is worshipped by the Baylan for his beauty, and for protection against the darkness, and creatures of the night. He was pursued by Magindang (the god of the sea) when he descended into the waters of Bicol. He is a fried of Asuang. There is a story concerning Bulan and the takay flower, that the moon saw the a lovely maiden drown and made her into the “takay” flower or the Bicolano water- hyacinth
Haliya – She is the goddess of moonlight and Bulan’s sister,confidant and protector. She is strong and adamant as Bulan is weak and submissive. She is depicted as a very lovely young woman. She and Bulan are the most pursued and fairest beings in the heavens. She wears a mask to hide her beauty.She was convinced by the wind people or Taong Lipod to go down to the waters of the earth to bathe.She is worshiped by women, she is the symbol of strength in women. Dance ritual Halea or Haliya is named after her, She is also know to be the arch enemy of Bakunawa (Bakunawa pursued his brother Bulan)Bakunawa – Belived to be the cause of eclipse, Bakunawa is the deity of the deep and the underworld. She saw Bulan when he descended to swim with the magindara and had fallen in love. Unnoticed by the boy moon she swore to eat the moon, She transformed into a huge eel-like dragon (some say dragon with gills with the mouth the size of a lake). Bakunawa is the arch rival of Haliya. When she tries to devour the moon, people would light torched and make notice to invoke Bakunawa’s rival Haliya.
He is the guardian of the Takay a lesser god. Takay fell in love with Kanaway, he was separating the two. He shot Kanaway with his lightning but Kanaway only turned to stone, he god angry and attacked mt. Asog with numerous lighting bolts thus making it sink and turn into now Lake Buhi
Okot – The god of the forest and of hunting, protector of flora and fauna Tall, muscular with brown skin and is said that he has a belt of vines. He whistles to imitate the call of birds and human, he is prayed upon in times of hunting.
Oryol – A demi-goddess in Bicolano myths, she is mentioned in the Ibalong Epic. Believed to be the daughter of the deity Asuang. Oryol possesses inhuman beauty and prowess when it comes to seduction. Aside from being beautiful in stories, it is told that she has a beautiful voice that could lure anyone (both men and women, even animals) Half of her body is a serpent. It is believed that the Naga and the Magindara obey her every command for she is a demigoddess.
Anito – Ancestral spirits venerated in communities and households, little wooden idols depict them. Believed to guide their living descendants and bring graces and good fortune.