Tag Archives: giants

On the creation of the Philippines

My informant is an international student from the Philippines. She says that in the 1920s, the national language of the Philippines was Tagalog. However, in 1935, the Commission of the National Language decided to change some words of Tagalog to make the language more accessible to people who spoke different dialects. They called this new language Filipino, and made it, along with English and Spanish, one of the official languages of the Philippines. Filipino  is now taught though culture classes, in which students memorize and are tested on Filipino folklore.


The following is a cosmogonic myth explaining the creation of the Philippines that she learned and still remembers.


“There’s a saying that the Philippines look like a sleeping child. Once upon a time, there was a family of giants that roamed the Earth. One afternoon, they were playing hide and seek. Being mythical creatures, they could breathe underwater. The tiniest child of the family decided to hide underwater. For a long time, the family didn’t realize he was missing, and he stayed underwater. After a while, people moved onto his protruding features. That is how the Philippines came to be!”


The Philippines do look like a sleeping child. However, I couldn’t find this version of the story of the Philippines’ creation anywhere else. All of the versions I could find involved the god of the water, Maguayan, and the god of the sky, Captan. This makes me wonder if the Filipino creation story my informant learned in elementary school, with giant children playing hide and seek, was geared specifically towards this younger audience. Also, the Philippines are officially a secular nation, with a predominantly Catholic population. Teaching a religious version of the creation story, and a pagan one at that, as part of the national curriculum would be frowned upon.