Philippine Myth: Origin of the Moon and Stars

A long, long time ago, some Filipinos thought the moon was a silver crescent comb and the stars were necklaces of diamonds. The sky was said to be a mere arm-stretch away overhead. The Philippine myth goes this way.

The myth says that once, a small community lived in the middle of a rice field. They focused on rice and corn agriculture and they brought in abundant harvest each year. One of the families in the community was Maria’s family. The myth continues that people in the community were so close that they knew each other well. Maria was know there as a pretty girl.

Particularly, she was known for caring too much for her long, silky hair. The myth says it was her pride, and lots of other girls in the neighborhood envied her for it. And Maria loved it. She fancied herself the star of her village. So, the myth goes that she worked double time on her beauty, especially her long, jet black hair.

Maria cared so much for her hair. The myth says, aside from daily comprehensive herbal rituals, she regularly brushed her hair with a special silver crescent-shape comb. The myth says she let nothing touch her hair except the best material around. Even as she went about her daily chore she wore a coiled string of jewels and diamonds (supposedly common as ordinary rocks that time) to crown her hair—that’s aside from the jeweled necklace she wore.

One day, according to the myth, as she was pounding grains of corn and palay (rice stalks) in a native wooden pestle with a wooden mortar, her mother noticed the jeweled string around her head , the silver comb stuck in her hair, and the jeweled lace round her neck. She scolded her and told her to lay aside everything while working. So, continues the myth, Maria hanged the comb and jewelry on the sky above her. Wanting to finish her work in a hurry, she pounded the grains hard by raising the mortar really high. She didn’t notice hitting the sky which went up higher as she hit it with her pounding. Soon the sky went all the way up, along with her comb and jewelry. And they became the moon and the stars, according to his Philippine myth.

The myth’s lesson? Don’t be too preoccupied with vain personal beauty. Work always comes first. Too much self indulgence is bound to compromise on things that really count.

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