Rising from the sea: origin of land and people

According to the cosmology of the Itneg (Tinguian) of Abra, in the beginning there was only the sky and the sea. One day a kite (Haliastur indus intermediusgrew tired of flying but had no place to alight and rest, so it decided to set the sea against the sky. The sea hurled its waters against the sky and in response the sky threw boulders to subdue the sea¹. These boulders became the islands of the archipelago.

Mayon Volcano, Albay. Tryfon Topalidis

Mayon Volcano, Albay. Tryfon Topalidis

Legends about boulders raining from the sky forming islands sounds a bit far fetched for us to imagine nowadays, but when we consider the historic accounts of the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883, it becomes clear that they may not have been that far off. The violent explosion and resulting tsunami from an undersea volcano, the shower of boulders and ash, and the summit eventually breaking through forming a new island could easily be remembered by primitive societies as a titanic skirmish between the sky and the sea.

Landsat Data Continuity Mission satellite orbited over Indonesia’s Flores Sea and snapped shots of Paluweh, a volcanic island.

Landsat Data Continuity Mission satellite orbited over Indonesia’s Flores Sea and snapped shots of Paluweh, a volcanic island.

Rising from the waters of the Pacific ocean, volcanoes and fault lines dot the entire region which continues in present times to be seismically active. These mighty forces of nature bring great destruction and also much fertility to the land. The minerals mixed with the abundant rain enriches the soil allowing the lush rainforests to propagate.

The story continues that on one of these islands, grew a reed from which the Supreme Being created the first man and first woman whose children became the ancestors of the inhabitants of the world.²

¹ (Relación de las Yslas Filipinas, 1582) Miguel de Loarca, trans. A.B. Llopis Repotente

² There are numerous versions of this story  found all over Maritime Southeast Asia, each tribe incorporating elements of their culture in it.

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