Sep 4, 2009

The Legend of Lake Ticob

Retold by: Nita Umali-Berthelsen
(Quezon Province, Southern Luzon)

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In one of the lesser-known barrios of Quezon Province in Southern Luzon, there lies a small, clear lake, beautiful in shape like a gem set in the middle of an emerald circlet. It is said that on clear days one can see the depths of this lake and distinguish four posts. And on still nights if one is very quite, one may see crocodiles come up to the and quietly sleep under the moonlight.

The people who have live around the lake say that many, many years ago there was no water in the place. A small house where an elderly couple lived stood on the spot where the lake is now. Although happy in their love for each other, the man and his wife had one sorrow-that in there advanced age they still had no child. Finally his wife, who had about given up all hope, received an answer to all her prayers and one day gave her husband the good news. “I dreamed I would be with child son, a daughter. She shall come on the ninth moon. There is only one thing. The gods who will give us this child have commanded that she shall never stop out of our house or misfortune will befall us.

In their joy at the arrival of the child, little did the couple think of the latter part of her dream. It did not take long before the dream came true, and the baby was bouncing on its father’s knee. The couple could hardly contain their joy. As the years passed, they saw that not only did they have an obedient, diligent daughter whom they, however, always reminded never to set foot outside their door, but that they also had a beautiful child. In time suitors came to ask of her hand, but too young to understand what love meant, she laughed off her admirer’s extravagant words. One day while her parents were in the field working on the soil that gave them their livelihood, one of these suitors came. He have been dared by his other friends who were quite certain that the damsel would never consider his suit. “Why, you can’t even make her come down from her house,” they mocked him. Stung by their remarks, he promised that he could do at least that.

He found the maiden sitting by the window, finishing a piece of embroidery on a pillowcase. When he came, she offered him a seat and settled back to her sewing. “Can’t you leave your work for a minute?” asked the young man, wondering at her unusual diligence. She smiled in apology. “I cannot today. This works is expected to be finished this afternoon. My mother will deliver it to the lady who ordered the embroidery. She will not forgive me if she comes home with the work unfinished.”

Silently the man watched her, seeing in her explanation a way of realizing his plans. He did not waste time. After the girl finished the length of thread and was reaching for some more, he brushed his hand against the needle lying on the windowsill and sent the silver of steel falling down to the ground. The girl exclaimed in consternation and then asked the suitor to go down and get it. Apparently willing, he hurriedly found the needle, reached it up to her, and then, suddenly playful, urged her to come to the door and reach down for it.

Without thinking, the girl did as he asked, her arm stretched out, her feet remaining inside the door. But the man backed away, and she had to go forward. “Come on, take a step down,” he cajoled. She did. He backed away again, and she had to take another step down the stairway. As she did so faint rumbling could be heard, and it grew louder with every downward step she took. Too frightened to think that it was her descent that could be the cause of the noise, the girl hurried to the man, but no sooner had her feet touched the ground than water came rushing down, covering them and the whole house. The parents, having heard the noise, came and they too were enveloped by water.

But the gods, punishing them, still gave them life and changed the four people into crocodiles. That is why, it is said. The crocodiles in Lake Ticob have always been tame and at one time they even played with the children who romped around the beach. And when fishermen rowed on the lake, the crocodiles swam around the boats and never harmed human beings.

But one day, just a few years ago, a stranger who did not know that the crocodiles in the lake were human, shot one of them. Only then did the crocodiles turn unfriendly, and although they still do not kill people, they no longer play with children. This legend explains how some things came bout in Lanao.

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