Philippine Myths & Legends: Maria Makiling
She’s a beautiful forest nymph who does not only protect Mount Makiling from invasive visitors but also lends a helping hand to poor country folk. That is Maria Makiling.
The story of Maria Makiling has been passed on by oral traditions through the years. She’s a popular legend in the Philippines, especially in Southern Luzon since Mount Makiling is located in the province of Laguna. In fact, Maria is always mentioned when one talks about the mountain and vice versa.
Mount Makiling has a serene ambience that reflects Maria Makiling’s own personality. Maria Makiling is described as a beautiful young woman with light olive skin and long dark hair. They say she has the ability to forever maintain her youthful look.
Maria lives in a humble hut within the mountain. Although considered as very compassionate to the poor and needy, Maria also has a fierce side; she punishes greedy hunters that frequent her mountain.
Did you know that our National Hero Jose Rizal wrote about Maria Makiling too? Rizal wrote a short story titled ‘Maria Makiling’ and is one of the popular stories surrounding Maria’s legend.
It is unsure if Maria was named after the mountain or the other way around but it has been noted that the feature of Mount Makiling is uneven and leaning southwards. Makiling is a Tagalog word that means uneven.
Mount Makiling in Laguna
Mount Makiling in Laguna
The name Maria is a generic name for a girl in the Philippines, especially in the highly Hispanized Tagalog region.
Maria Makiling is a tall graceful young woman with fair complexion. She has long and thick dark hair. She also has black- colored eyes and small delicate feet. According to Jose Rizal’s writing, “she was a fairy-like creature born under moonbeams of the Philippines.” Part of Maria’s mythical eminence is her ability to never age.
Maria is known as the protector of Mount Makiling and she punishes those who come to the mountain and seek fruits and animals that get more than their fair share.
People who go to the mountain can eat the fruits they find but they should never bring them home or they might anger Maria. One will be lost in the mountain and will only find his way home if he leaves behind the fruits he picked.
Maria seldom shows herself to people. It is said that she likes to appear just after a storm and repair all the destructions the storm has left.
Maria is also very helpful to the town folks. She likes to lend her jewels and clothing to the poor so they can use them on weddings and baptism. In return for her help, Maria only asks for a white pullet: a young hen that never laysanegg.
Sometimes she also appears as a simple country girl and help old women to pick up firewood. She would then slip golden nuggets or jewels in the bundle of woods for the old women to discover later on.
Maria also has the ability to turn ginger into gold.