TELL ME A STORY
God's fury ebbs after warrior seizes daughter
Adapted by Amy Friedman
Adapted by Amy Friedman
"The Sea God's Wrath" is a legend from the Philippines.
One day the Tinguian warrior Aponitolau traveled across his country to the edge of the sea. Standing onshore, he could not take his eyes off the vast spread of water before him. He had never seen such a sight, and he longed to travel upon its shimmering surface.
Using palm branches and strips of bark, Aponitolau built a raft from fallen trees and carved an oar. Then he paddled out.
He traveled so far he could see where the sky and sea meet, and he heard musical voices, laughter and sweet lullabies, songs he could not resist. He paddled on.
Soon he saw nine beautiful maidens playing in the water, waving to him, laughing and taunting him. "Come closer," they cried, and their voices sounded so beautiful to the young man, he could not resist.
He paddled on, and too late he saw that he had reached the stone palace of Tau-mari-u, god of the sea. The maidens were daughters of the seaweed, guardians of the god's palace, and Aponitolau knew the god would be angry. No one was permitted so close to the palace.
"Why have you lured me here?" he cried to the maidens, but they laughed at him.
Their laughter angered him, so he threw his magical fishing hook, catching the youngest maiden, Humitau. He reeled her toward him.
When the sea god heard the news, he roared with fury. "Rescue Humitau from the wild warrior," he commanded the sea, and waves rolled toward the raft.
When Aponitolau saw the waves chasing him, he cried out to his mother, the great Lang-an. "Mother, save me from the sea," and when Lang-an heard her son's cry for help, she sent the wind after the rolling waves.
The wind passed the waves, sweeping Aponitolau's raft to shore and safety. He lifted the maiden into his arms and ran from the beach.
When Tau-mari-u saw this, he was enraged. "How dare he disobey me. I am god of the sea, mightier than any warrior!"
And so Tau-mari-u called all the gods together. "We must punish Aponitolau. No one can disobey the gods and get away with it. He must understand our power. He must never forget. The people of the land must know our strength."
Lang-an listened quietly. Her heart ached for her son, but she said nothing. When she had heard the gods' plans, she rushed to her son's side.
"I offer you guidance, son," she said. "Listen to me carefully, for you have angered the gods, and now the whole world will suffer for your arrogance. No good can ever come of disobeying the gods, my child. You stole a treasure, and now you must go to the highest mountain, to Mount Pulag, and take all that you value with you. Take everyone you love and all you wish to save. The gods are sending a flood that will destroy the land."
Aponitolau was proud, but he was not a fool. He listened to his mother, and then he carried his loved ones and belongings to the mountaintop. And just in time.
The waters of all the seas began to whirl and churn, and the waves rose, each one capped by foam. They rolled on, growing higher, moving faster and faster, until at last they broke upon the shore and swallowed everything that stood in their path.
The valleys were soon overflowing, and then the plains were flooded too. The waves climbed hills, destroying people, animals and crops, and the floodwaters reached the mountain where Aponitolau had taken refuge.
Humitau had lost her sea spirit powers, for she had eaten mountain food, but she had grown to love the warrior, and so she wept and cried for mercy.
When the god of the sea heard Humitau's pleas, he felt love for her, and pity, too. And so, just before the waves reached Mount Pulag, he called them back home.
The waves began to pull back, and the land began dry, and soon the crops rose to greet the warmth of the sun that shone down on the island.
Aponitolau and Humitau climbed down from the mountain. When later they began to have children, these were the first people in this brand-new world. And they never forgot the power of the god of the sea.