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Every culture has their own stories about how the world came to be. For countries as big and diverse as the Philippines, there are many different myths about how the world came to be. The story that unfolds below was inspired by a creation myth from Luzon, the largest island in the Philippines. While there are many different versions of this myth, the stories all start in the same way: with only the sky, the sea, and a single black bird.
Read the story and download the kids' activity sheet at the end to find out more about Filipino culture!
At the beginning of the world, there was nothing but the sky, the sea and a single black bird.
In that time, there was no land, and the sky hung very low and close to the sea. The bird had no choice but to constantly fly without rest. When it grew tired, all it could do was spread its wings out to let the wind carry and lift them on the breeze.
There came a day where the bird grew far too tired to fly or glide with the wind. However, there was no place for it to rest. If the bird did not do anything, it knew that it would soon fall from exhaustion and drown. It remained deep in thought for several days, wondering what it could do to create a place for it to land on safely.
Finally, the bird came up with an idea! It flew down to the water and began speaking to the sea, “Guess what the sky said to me? It said that you were a useless body of saltwater that does nothing but create waves all day.”
The sea trembled in anger, its waves beginning to grow choppier as it yelled, “How dare they say that... I am greater than the sky can ever wish to be!”
The bird grew excited, seeing that its plan was working. It decided to push the sea even further and continued, “The sky says that you do nothing good and will likely drown me one day.”
At this point, the sea grew furious, its waves now churning furiously and its water turning a deep black-blue. The sea surged up towards the sky as the bird frantically flew about to avoid being drowned, narrowly missing the frothy waves that slowly inched its way towards the sky. Finally, the waves rose one last time and crashed into the low-hanging sky!
The sky was shocked by the sea’s actions and began to retaliate, thundering loudly as lightning cut through empty space and into the sea.
As the battle raged on, large rocks rained down from the sky and masses of earth began to emerge from the depths of the sea.
Eventually, the sky and sea grew tired of their never-ending battle, settling back into calm.
From this battle came land, and the bird sighed in relief, happy to finally have a place to rest.
Time passed and the bird was happy. It finally had a place to rest his tired wings. Plants and vegetation began to emerge from the land.
One evening, the bird flew back to the island to rest for the day. However, it was shocked to discover that a stalk of bamboo had grown right through its nest! Unhappy at the damage done to its home, the bird began to furiously peck at the bamboo, splitting it into two clean halves and tossing them aside. Pleased, the black bird settled in for the evening.
The bird awoke the next day expecting nothing out of the ordinary. But another surprise awaited the unsuspecting bird. The two halves of the bamboo that it had tossed away the night before had suddenly been turned into people—the first man and woman in existence. The bird, surprised and unsure of what to do, called upon the sky and the sea to decide what should be done with them.
The sky and sea turned to each other, murmuring in discussion before finally looking at the man and woman, asking them, “How about you two marry each other and create a family?” The man and woman agreed and began to build their new life on the island.
The couple lived happily and bore many children. Their family grew larger and larger until the island that they had settled on was too small for everyone to live comfortably. The couple turned to their offspring and said, “Children, it is time for you to leave this island and make homes of your own elsewhere. This place is not big enough for all of us!”
Their children, while reluctant to leave, understood that they could no longer live with their parents and slowly set off to discover other lands to make into their homes. As more time passed, they spread across the world and settled on all the different lands. And thus, the world emerged as it is today, populated by different groups of people across different lands, surrounded by the sky and sea.
Learn more about different Filipino cultures and art forms in our activity sheet below!
Illustrations by: Tifanny Maulida Rasulia.