In the past Balladeer’s Blog has examined neglected epic myths from around the world. From Vietnam I dealt with A War Between Gods, from the Navajo pantheon I explored the saga of the war god Nayanazgeni battling the dark gods called the Anaye and I even examined the Dinka people’s epic about Aiwel Longar.
Epics from Inuit, Iroquois, Chinese, Korean and Bunyoro myths were also tackled.
This time around I move on to the Philippines for a look at the epic myth of the demigod named Baybayan.
This enjoyable and often action-packed tale comes from the Bukidnon people of the Philippine island of Mindanao. This story fuses native Bukidnon beliefs with elements of Vietnamese, Christian and Muslim myths.
Baybayan’s mother, whose real name was considered too sacred to share with non-Bukidnons, was a beautiful and virtuous mortal woman. In Philippine myths the gods in Skyland found Earth women to be more beautiful than the goddeses in their celestial homeland. One of those gods frequently visited Baybayan’s mother in her dreams and had sex with her. (Exact godly parentage was never an obsession in Philippine or Vietnamese myths. It was enough to just refer to a hero as “the child of a god and a mortal woman.”)
The mother found herself pregnant all at once one day while walking along the shore and gave birth to a male baby through her arms. As I discussed in my examination of myths from Madagascar various cultures around the world often feature such bizarre births. The general consensus for that common theme goes like this:
What we call caesarian births were being done around the world long before Caesar. Inevitably the children of such unusual births were considered special or supernatural figures. So, given the human tendency toward embellishment if figures born from a woman’s abdomen instead of her vagina were revered as special individuals, how much MORE special must a mythic figure be if born from a woman’s arms, hands, armpits or other parts of her anatomy? (Don’t laugh – plenty of African demigods were born from the armpit.)
The mother named her son Baybayan, meaning “by the seashore” to mark the place of his birth. In the usual pattern for demigods Baybayan was an articulate speaker even in his infancy and grew to adulthood in a remarkably short period of time.
Once full-grown our hero took to wandering the island of Mindanao performing various miracles. One time while observing five fishermen dividing their day’s catch Baybayan wanted some to feed the local poor. The fishermen refused to give up any of the fruits of their labor, citing the tradition that the fish were to be divided only among those who had worked to catch them.
However, each time they divided the catch into five piles – one for each fisherman – there always wound up being enough fish left over to make a sixth pile. Every time the fishermen divided the fish in that pile into their own piles, there once again appeared enough spare fish to make a sixth pile equal to the now-larger amount of fish on their own five piles.
At last acknowledging that Baybayan must be a god the fishermen humbly permitted him to take the fish in the sixth pile to feed the local poor.
On another occassion Baybayan came to a stream that had been struck by a drought demon. The water had dried up all at once, leaving the fish twitching and dying in the mud which was all that was left of the stream. Baybayan lifted his walking-stick and brought it down hard, gouging a hole in the mud. From that hole burst forth an abundance of water, saving the fish and restoring the stream.
In his travels Baybayan would often impress crowds of people by hacking a human being to death and then wrapping the remains in a blanket and restoring the person to full health, intact and with no scarring.
Needless to say, such a figure will attract followers and Baybayan soon had many disciples who followed him wherever his wanderings took him. He preached about the purity of the body and the soul to his followers who began to live by his teachings.
One day Baybayan’s disciples noticed he was grim and downcast. They inquired as to why and the demigod warned them that a period of great (dare I say it) tribulation was coming upon the Earth and that they must all make ready for it. +++
I’ll resume with Part Two soon. Check back once or twice a week for updates.
FOR ANOTHER EPIC MYTH CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/2013/03/17/iroquois-epic-myth-hodadeion/
FOR SIMILAR ARTICLES AND MORE OF THE TOP LISTS FRO BALLADEER’S BLOG CLICK HERE: https://glitternight.com/top-lists/
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