The Philippine Myth on Maria and the Crab

Crabs or “alimango” in the vernacular is a very sumptuous dish to feast on. Here’s a unique myth on a crab haunted by the spirit of a loving mother to protect her child. How mother, child, and crab are connected is narrated by this myth.

According to the myth, there was a beautiful girl named Maria. Her mother died when she was still young. Her father married again to a widow with two daughters. The daughters, says this myth, were envious of Maria’s natural beauty. The myth says envy forced them to get Maria to do all the housework. The poor girl was the last to eat and sometimes even missed meals altogether.

The myth says that one day, due to hardship, Maria cried by a well. The girl had missed breakfast and had just finished fetching water. She was about to begin washing clothes when a kind voice spoke to her saying “Don’t cry Maria, here’s some food. Eat, my child.” The myth says Maria saw some food but there was nobody around. Then the girl was shocked to see a big crab.

According to the myth, it was the crab speaking all along: “Don’t be scared, my child. I’m your dead mother. From this day on my spirit in this crab will take care of you.”

The myth continues that when Maria left for the market the big crab came to bring food for Maria. The stepmother saw it and cooked and ate it with her two daughters. The myth says that when Maria saw the shells that were left of the crab, the pitiful girl cried. But she heard a voice again, saying, ”Don’t cry, just pick up the shells and bury them in the yard. ” She did so, and the next morning, Maria saw a full grown tree on the spot where she buried the crab’s shells. The tree was laden with ripened golden fruits.

The myth says, there was a handsome man who saw the golden fruits and asked Maria’s two step sisters for some. For some mysterious reason they could not get close to the tree. Only Maria could. When the man reached out and saw Maria, he fell in love and asked her hand for marriage.

This Philippine myth on Maria and the Crab reminds us of a mother’s boundless love for her child, and how she would get out of her way just to protect her children.

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