Health buffs say among the purest water source today is the water inside a coconut. Through Science we know that plants produce fruits and juices though the action of sunlight and carbon dioxide in a process called photosynthesis. But people long ago had another version of why coconuts produced sweet pure water inside its shell. We find this in one of the popular folk myths on how water is “trapped” inside a coconut shell.
Although the Philippines is an archipelago surrounded by bodies of water there is scarcity of water in some parts of it. The same was said to be true hundreds of years ago. Especially when the dry spell is over the land during summer some parts ran out of water source. In one such season Noog, a slim native boy from southern Luzon, was said to have scoured the place for precious clean water. The popular folk myth said he went to a high place in search of it.
Then he chanced upon an underground water source, or “bukal” in the vernacular, from among the deep caves found on the top of a mountain. He went down the descending cavern and found a cool clean underground spring. He drank some and kept some in a container made of bamboo. According to the popular folk myth, he left the place and vowed to keep the place a secret so he and his family alone could benefit from it. He descended the mountain in high hopes but then was blocked by several folks from town. They demanded water.
Noog refused to give them any and determined to withhold the information on the underground water source. The folks were enraged by Noog’s obstinate stand and they decided to kill and bury him on a remote place on the plain. As a last resort to save his life, Noog offered to tell them where the “bukal” was found, to no avail. Then, the popular folk myth says, the folks saw a strange tree growing on the plains one day. It grew to be a tall and slender tree with large nuts the size of a human head.
People then started to call the tree and its nuts Noog’s water from the “bukal” and as time went it shortened to simply Noog or “bukal.” Much later on, the popular folk myth referred to them as “Niyog” or “Buko,” as coconut is called today. The lesson in this popular folk myth is that we should always willingly share our blessings.