The Marriage of the Sky and the Sea: Visayan Creation Myths

The Marriage of the Sky and the Sea: Visayan Creation Myths

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Although there are different versions of the Visayan creation myth, they are similar in characters, conflicts and resolutions. The way the story was narrated and its different subsequent retellings strongly portray the common experience of the people. The creation myth of the Visayans not only tells the story of how the world was created and how humanity came into existence, thus effectively describing how the Visayans view the world and their origins, it also describes the first death, war, social classes, and race.

Map of the Philippines showing the location of Visayan Islands.

Map of the Philippines showing the location of Visayan Islands. (SEAV/ CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Land, the Sun and the Moon Battled against the Sky

North and South Gigante Islands (right and left respectively), Iloilo Province, Philippines

North and South Gigante Islands (right and left respectively), Iloilo Province, Philippines ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )

In the beginning, the world was nothing but a great sea of water under the sky. The sea was ruled by the goddess Maguayan while the god Kaptan ruled the sky. As the two great gods decided to unite, the sea became the bride of the sky. From their union came three sons and a daughter: the strong and brave rock-bodied Likalibutan, the happy golden-bodied Liadlao, the timid copper-bodied Libulan, and the beautiful and gentle Lisuga with a body of pure silver. Kaptan and Maguayan took great care of them and shielded them from evil. After some time, Likalibutan, the eldest of the siblings, was resolved to gain more power and asked his brothers to join him in an attack on Kaptan.

The three brothers rushed at the sky where Kaptan resided. However, they could not destroy the gates of steel that guarded the entrance to his home. The powerful Likalibutan then let loose the strongest blows and shattered the bars of the gate in every direction. As they came charging through the gate, the brothers were met by the angry god Kaptan. The sky, usually serene and calm, now darkened and the terrible anger of Kaptan made them run away in terror. However, the furious Kaptan sent three bolts of lightning after them. The first bolt struck the copper Libulan and melted him into a ball which fell near Kaptan’s feet, thus Libulan became a part of the sky forever as the moon.

Libulan became a part of the sky forever as the copper moon

Libulan became a part of the sky forever as the copper moon. ( CC BY-ND 2.0 )

The second bolt struck the golden Liadlao and he too was melted into a ball before he could escape from the sky, making him a part of the sky as the sun. The third bolt struck Likalibutan, who led the escape, breaking his rocky body into many pieces before falling into the sea. Parts of his body stuck out above the water and became what is known as lands. Gentle Lisuga, devastated by the tragedy that befell her brothers, was later placed by Kaptan in the sky as the stars so she could be near her two brothers, the sun and the moon, and share her beautiful silvery light with her eldest brother, the land, in dark nights.

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Top Image: Deriv; Visayan warriors, left ( Public Domain ) and Visayan Nobles, right ( Public Domain ) from the Boxer Codex, 1595.

By Martini Fisher

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