Origins of the Filipino

Once upon a time, a bamboo was washed upon a shore, took root and grew. Birds came to perch upon its branches. One of these, a tiktik, heard voices from the inside of a node and pecked at it several times. To the bird's astonishment, the node split wide open. A man and a woman, one facing the other, stepped forward. the man was called Malakas or the Strong One while the woman was called Maganda or the Beautiful one. Malakas later urged Maganda: "Alis na tayo rito!" (Let us leave this place!). And forthwith, the two abandoned the site for one of the islands where they had a comfortable and peaceful life with their children.

In Malakas, the folktale embodies elegance and refinement, in Maganda beauty. Small wonder the Filipino asks a never-ending string of questions particularly during childbirth: "Lalake bo o babae?" (Is it a boy or a girl?); "Malakas ba o Maganda?" (Strong or beautiful?); "Tuwid ba o kulot ang buhok?" (Straight or curly haired?) "Maputi ba o maitim?" (Faired or dark-skinned?). Here, an amusing trait of the Filipino race is at play. The bamboo depicted is a lifetime all-purpose plant. Indeed, it does serve many medicinal purposes; its trunks and edible bamboo shoots are cooked as vegetables; its mature bamboo poles are cut for posts, floors, walls, roofs, for houses and for fences. Its small, thorny branches are crafted into fishing rods, blowpipes and musical instruments...To strong winds the bamboo bends; it invariable yields; but after the storm passes, it returns to its upright position. Such is the resilient nature of the Filipino.

from: Philippines; Archipelago of Smiles by Eric Paquier. Le Cherche Midi Edituer. Paris.

Article by: Prospero R. Covar

Translated by: Romina L. Santos