Sep 4, 2009

When the Lilies Return

Retold by: John M. Miller
(Pasig Metro Manila, Luzon)

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At the time when the Pasig River flowed peacefully along between flowery banks, when its breast was not torn by puffing steamers, and when only a few clustering huts marked the present site of Manila, there grew on the banks of the river, a beautiful field of lilies.The lilies glistened like silver in the sunlight and filled the air with delicious perfume. No hand plucked them from the earth, and no foot trampled out their fragrance; for an ancient prophecy had said that while the lilies stood the happiness of the people should endure.

But after a time cane dark days in the history of the Philippines. Yellow hordes swept across the water and carried all before them. The people could hardly expect to resist the invaders, for their warrior king, Loku, had profaned the word of the god, who, in the form of a lizard, was fulfilling his threats of punishment. Their armies were weal and scattered, and the conquerors marched on in triumph. As report after report of disaster reached Luzon, the people trembled for the safety of their fair land. Warriors gathered hastily for the defense of the nation, and all united and waited for the enemy to appear.

One day the water was dotted with the junks of the invaders. They came slowly down the bay, and anchored near the mouth of the Pasig. Then from the boat poured the yellow warriors. Spears rained upon them, stones and arrows laid them low, but their numbers were countless. The people were along the riverbanks. Fiercely they fought, but numbers told against them. Foot by foot they were pressed back, till they stood on the border of the field of lilies, where they made their last stand. But it was to no purpose.The invaders poured from the ships, and in one desperate charge drove back the ranks of the people, who fought and died among their sacred lilies. All through the night the battle raged, and all daybreak, when the victorious invaders rested on their spears, the beautiful field was no more.

The lilies were crushed and torn. The bodies of dead and dying warriors laid everywhere, and the crushed flowers were stained with blood of friend and foe. The peace of the land was lost.

Many years have passed since then. New races have come to the islands, and new manners and customs have been introduced. The Pasig still flows on to the sea, but its banks are harness by bridges. Lofty dwellings and stores took the place of the little huts, and a great city marks the site of the little village. Where once was the beautiful field is now a busy part of the great city. It is called Quiapo, after the lilies. Many of the older people remember the prophecy and wonder if the lilies will ever return.

The land is now a peaceful and contented one. Comfort and happiness maybe found among its inhabitants. Perhaps the fair, strange women from the great land over the sea are the lilies. Who can tell?

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