The Legend of Rice
long, long time ago, our ancestors did not know about rice. They lived on
fruits and vegetables, which they gathered in the forest, and on birds and
wild animals, which they caught while hunting in the mountain. Tilling the
soil was still unheard of. In addition, domestication of animals was not
our people depended on the food which nature provided and not on what they
themselves grew raised, their stay in one particular place was only
temporary. When there was nothing more to be hunted, or gathered in a
certain area, they would go to another region where there was plenty of
food provided by nature. Moreover, the cycle would continue.
the conditions under which they lived, our ancestors were proud, thankful,
and happy just the same. They took pride in the things they had: their
brown skin, the race to which they belonged, the customs and traditions,
which they practiced. They were thankful to Bathala, their god, for all
the blessings he had given them. They were happy in the simple and
uncomplicated manner of living, which they led.
a typical day, the men could be seen going to the mountain or forest to
hunt, while the women and children could be seen busily engaged in
fishing, gathering fruits and vegetables, and other useful tasks. After a
day’s work, all wild animals that had been killed in the hunt, and all
fruits and vegetables that had been gathered, would be divided equally
among all the groups of families which made up the barangay. Such was the
mode living of our ancestors in those days.
One day a group of hunters went out to
hunt deer. In their desire to have a good catch, they traveled everywhere
until they reached the Cordillera Mountains.
Having traveled so far, and feeling dead
tired, they decided to take a rest under a big tree. It was nearing
noontime, and all of them were hungry. While resting in the shade of the
tree, they saw, not far from where they were a group of men and women
whose features were quite different form those of ordinary mortals. The
hunters mistook them for fairies that lived in the mountains All at once
the hunters stood up and gave the group respect.
“bathalas” were glad at this gesture. In return, they invited the
hunters to join them in their banquet. The hunters accepted the
invitation. Soon everybody was busy. The hunters helped in preparing the
food. They butchered the deer and wild boar, and then placed them one
after another over the live coals. In a short while, a servant of the
“bathalas” got some bamboos and placed them over the fire. The bamboos
contained small, white kernels shaped like beads. Soon after, the cooked
kernels were placed in a saucer on banana leaves. The table was laden with
roasted meat, cooked vegetable, and fresh fruits. Other bamboos were
brought in and these contained what looked like pure water.
The hunters soon learned that the
crystal-like substance was not water but the wine of the “bathalas”.
At first, the hunters were reluctant in joining the feast after seeing the
small, white kernels. “We do not eat worms,” the chief hunter said.
The “bathalas” smiled. “These white bead-shaped kernels are not
worms,” replied one of the gods. “They are cooked rice. They came from
a certain kind of plant, which we ourselves grow. Come and feast with us.
After we have eaten, kill us if you find anything wrong from eating
hunters followed the advice of the gods. They taught their own people how
to till the soil and plant it to palay. They also taught their fellow
villagers how to cook rice. Of course, they introduced the eating of
cooked rice to the people. After many years, the practice of eating rice
and the art of planting rice become widespread. Many other barangays soon
adopted the practice and art. Since then rice has become a basic food of
After the god had spoken, the hunters
did not argue anymore. They feasted with the gods. They were satisfied and
happy because of the energy they felt after eating cooked rice. Their weak
bodies became strong again. After the feast, the hunters thanked the gods.
Before leaving, every hunter received a sack of play from the gods.
“This is palay”, explained another of the gods. “Pound the palay,
winnow and clean it very well. Wash the rice with water and place the
washed rice between the internodes of the bamboo with enough water to be
absorbed by the rice. Then place the bamboo over the fire until it is
cooked.” The god paused for a while. Then he continued to speak: “The
sick will become strong and all of you will be satisfied after eating.
Preserve some of the palay for your seedbed. Start planting during the
rainy season. During the dry season, you can harvest the palay. Go now.
Introduce the palay in your village and teach the people how to till the
soil. You will find progress and this will stop from wandering from place
In addition, along with the tilling of
the soil, our people have learned to raise animals and to construct
permanent dwelling places.