Informant: So, um, I’m probably gonna start with the creator of the universe…
Informant: … or back then for traditional Philippians. There were three gods. There was Bathala. He was the caretaker of the universe. There’s Uilang Kaluluwa, which was a serpant who lives in the clouds, and there’s Galang Kaluluwa. All of these gods were separate from each other, like, they didn’t know each other, but then one day Bathala and Uilang both met on Earth and they merely just started fighting each other cause, like, they didn’t want any other god stepping into their realm. Bathala eventually won and killed Uilang and buried him in Earth. A couple year later, Galang, the winged god enters the equation but dies on Earth, but asks Bathala to, uh, to basically bury him where he buried, where he buried the… serpant god. After a couple days passed a giant coconut tree sprouted and a coconut fell down, and the husk reminded him of Galangs, like, head, since it had two eyes, a nose, and a mouth. So when… so when he removed, the, um, husk from the coconut, Bathala basically figured out… how he was going to create like on Earth and all the vegetation around him, so he… he created us, the humans and clothed us with the leaves from the coconut tree, built the houses out of the wood from the coconuts, and gave us coconut juice to drink, and the white meat from coconuts to eat. And that was basically how… well, for my culture, how, like, the universe… or, our world, was created.
Context– The informant is a young man who immigrated from the Philippines to the U.S. at a young age. Although he is Catholic, he grew up hearing about the native folklore and mythology of the Philippines from members of his family as a way to preserve their heritage.
Analysis– This mythology is, like many, made by this culture in order to explain the origin and workings of the universe. The depiction of the god, Uilang Kaluluwa, as a serpent and the winged god, Galang, most likely reflects the abundance of snakes and birds in the Philippines. The importance of the coconut in the creation mythology also shows the value of the coconut in the Philippines as it, along with the coconut trees, were used in many important ways such as housing and food.
For another version of this story see: “The TAGALOGS Origin Myths: Bathala the Creator” on The Aswang Project (https://www.aswangproject.com/bathala/)