Editor’s Note: Continuing this month’s series on Mindanao folklore, we present this week “Manobo Folktales” compiled by Cebella T. Guintaos and published in Tambara Vol. XVII in December 2000. This article was retrieved and encoded as part of a document digitization project of Ateneo de Davao University.
Serpents / Ka Uled
There was an old couple who had no children. They possessed the power of foretelling the future, so their followers believed them. That time there was a famine. All of them experienced starvation and many of them died. The famine became so severe with the burning of forests. All people and animals suffered from hunger. Many also suffered from different kinds of illness.
While the famine intensified, the spirit entered into the old woman.
The spirit through this woman said that something fearful was about to come. It would look frightening but this would help them in many ways. That time really came as told by the old woman, and the people were shaken when they heard a sound.
The old woman saw them, and so she warned them to stop and not to go away. Then that frightful thing approached them.
The old man also looked at it and he saw a big animal with horns and ears. It looked as though it was panting and wet.
The old man touched the old woman, and he pointed to that frightful thing. The old woman also looked at it, and she said that they would just wait for it.
Then she told the people that they should just watch it for God was with them.
When that big frightful thing finally arrived, it was seen as a big serpent.
That was what the old folks called before as “Tendayag.” It looked fearful but it could help the people.
When it got near them, they saw the different types of fish jumping alive around the scales of the serpent’s body.
The old woman said, “You get near it, and you pick up some fish.”
They picked up plenty because their baskets were filled. The serpent continued crawling until it reached the place of Kituved.
Some people followed the serpent. When it reached Kituved, it raised its head to find out if somebody would answer if it would shout.
The people projected that the answer might come somewhere from the Merepangi waterfall, and the serpent went there. It lowered its body, and it really showed how big it was because the earth eroded. That is why that mountain is called “Kimenembag” or eroded.
It left the area and moved towards Merepengi.
When it arrived, it crawled under the waterfall. The foaming bubbles made it obvious that the two had finally met. Blood and rotten leaves of trees floated in the water.
Not long after, one came out and then the other one followed. They came out and talked to each other as serpents.
“We will take off our serpent’s cloak because we are both humans.” “Yes,” said the other one.
And they turned into human beings. Now, they faced each other and each held a weapon. As they faced each other, they stared at each.
One said, “Are you Menelism?”
“Why, are you Bete-ey?”
They both answered, “Yes!”
“Since you are Menelism, you go back to heaven; while I will stay here on earth,” said Bete-ey who was his brother, “for I will help and teach righteousness to the people.”
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