Sunday, November 27, 2016


god of the moon


Bulan is the primordial god of the moon in pre-Hispanic Bicolano mythology, and brother of Haliya the goddess of the moonlight, while in Visayan myths he is one of the seven deities of the moon.
He lives in "Kamurayan(heavens) 

He is depicted as an extremely lovely adolescent boy with fair skin, lithe body, comely features and eyes as black as night and exceedingly long hair as black as midnight. He was worshiped alongside Asuang by the baylan (priest and shamans in pre-Hispanic Bicol who dressed and acted as female).

Also, some believe that the First class municipality in the south of Luzon island, Sorsogon Province was named after him. He had a younger sister who literally came from his body named Haliya. In some stories, Haliya was Bulan's daughter and defender (the gods could not age Bulan forever remained pubescent) enticed by the wind people or taong lipod to descend into the earth to bathe in its waters, she, in turn, convinced her brother Bulan do go down with her. Bulan and Haliya descended and all creatures were in awe of their luminous and white beauty.

was said to be so fair, that his comeliness could disarm any creature 

Legend tells that Bulan and Haliya were so beautiful that the vicious Magindara(mermaids) became docile. Their beauty also reached the underworld which was the domain of the Bakunawa.
The moon was so focused on playing with the mermaids that they did not notice the god Bakunawa, offended he wanted revenge. (very similar to the Visayan version of the story)
The next night Bakunawa, a huge fish-like-dragon leap to the sky to consume the moon. Haliya became the arch-enemy of Bakunawa ever since

Bulan and Haliya
The legend of the Takay flower

The most prominent myth about the Takay flower is that the fair maiden Takay drowned in the flood caused by the god Onos. The moon saw what had happened and took pity of the fair maiden and turned her into the lovely flowers that is now abundant in Lake Bato

Variant myth

Abundant in the fresh waters of Bicol lakes is the lotus-like flower Tacay. Pre-Hispanic Bicolano's and even the Spaniards appreciated the beauty of the Tacay flower.
The god Bulan and his sister Haliya followed by an entourage of wind people had frequent swims in the waters of the earth. One night they landed on the fresh waters of a Lake (Lake Bato - Freshwater lake in Camarinez sur), the plants were shy because of the beauty of the moons and said that they did not deserve to be in the same water as the gods. The god Bulan was touched by the sentiments of the water plants and he rewarded them. The next night the plants saw that they were now beautiful too, having beautiful flowers, the Tacay flowers were gifts from the gods.

Bulan and Asuang

Long ago the inhabitants of Bicol believed in the existence of vicious man-eating mermaids with colorful scales and beautiful faces called Magindara. The magindara were lovely half women half fish that would lure men into the sea and drown them. The Bicolano's also believed in winged sharks called Pating na Pakpakan (which were a cross between a manta ray and shark)that could fly and devour men. 
and of  giant flying fishes which had slimy, scaly, and hardy flesh and saw-like teeth that could crush rocks (which they will later call Tiburom)
The waters of Bicol were feared because it was monster-infested.  The forest and other plains too were filled with monsters and beasts like the Sarimao, most of these monstrosities answer to their sovereign Asuang. Asuang is feared and blamed for all the misfortunes of people, all the blame and hate.


One night the people of  Ibalon heard beautiful voices coming from the sea, they did not dare go see, but when they looked up the moons was full and a celestial divinity was descending. It was Bulan, the god of the moon. He was said to be so fair and luminous that the vicious mermaids became tame, and that the flying sharks dropped from the sky and almost sank into the water forgetting how to swim and fly in the presence of the moon god.

as portrayed in a festival in Bicol

 After being defeated by his brother Gugurang, he seeks refuge in his abode along with his beast and other monsters. From his mountain he saw the god Bulan descending from the heavens to the waters, he remembered that Bulan was Gugurang favorite that the supreme deity personally placed him in the heavens. Bulan descending with an entourage of wind nymphs (Tawong lipod) in the waters of Bicol, and Asuang and his minion of night beast came to the waters, He had plans of taking the boy moon to have revenge on Gugurang.  Then he stood in awe at the luminosity and radiance of the moon. He sent his vicious Magindara or mermaids to capture Bulan, instead of capturing the moon deity upon seeing his comeliness they became tame and played together like children.  Asuang angered by what had happened personally went to the waters to where Bulan and the mermaids and wind nymphs(taong lipod) played. He walked into the water as if it were solid ground followed by his flying beast. Bulan saw Asuang, Asuang expected the boy to be afraid and scream in terror, to Asuang surprise Bulan smiled and asked him to play and swim in the waters with him. Asuang moved by the kindness and warmth welcome of the lunar deity vowed that they will be friends. And that no harm shall come to him whenever he descends to the waters and lands of his domain, that also his beast and monsters shall treat the moon with veneration.

depicted as an adolescent boy with a lithe body and comely features; fair skin, dark eyes and long black hair as black midnight

Haliya, Bulan, and Bakunawa 

Bicolano myth tells that the great Bakunawa was not always a titanic fish-dragon that tries to devour the moon. She was a Naga and a goddess who like the other gods and monsters have adored the celestial deity.  Bulan with all of his comeliness and radiance would bathe with his entourage of wind nymphs in Ibalong where the goddess Bakunawa had loved him from afar. after many nights Bakunawa got the courage to come close to Bulan only to be unnoticed because Bulan was childlike and playful and was busy playing and swimming with the mermaids. Angered by this misunderstanding  Bakunawa swore she would claim Bulan from the sky. The next night she gathered her magic and transformed into a huge fish-dragon and tried to devour the moon. Haliya being the more dominant twin battled Bakunawa. Haliya and Bakunawa became arch enemies since then.

Bulan and Asuang
Bulan in Visayan myths

Sidapa and Bulan
Unlike in Bicol where Bulan is a primordial deity worshiped, the Visayans views him as a lesser divinity and is popularly known to be the consort of Sidapa(the god who measures the life of mortals) the god of death.  The story goes that one-night Sidapa saw the seven lunar deities playing in the sky and was smitten by them. He then acted quickly and asked the mermaids and birds to sing songs of endearment to the moons. Next he commanded the flowers to bloom and make sweet nectar and perfumes that would attract the lunar deities attention, and lastly, he captured starlight and gave them to the insects(turning them into fireflies) to guide the celestial deities. All this captured the attention and affection of the childlike Bulan. Bulan descended guided by fireflies. It is said that he was so comely, that his androgynous beauty made the vicious mermaids and other sea monsters friendly, legend also tells that he was so fair that the fishes forgot to swim for a while and the birds forgot to chirp and fell disarmed by his luminosity.
Sidapa battled the other gods and goddesses and was triumphant and claimed the boy to be his child bride. Some still believe to this day that the two divinities slumber in each other's arms.

Bakunawa and the seven moons

Oldest and most complex version in Visayan mythology mentioning Bulan which overlaps with the stories of the nearby colonies of Ibalong (modern-day Bicol) is the story of Bakunawa and the seven moons. According to the Visayans ( of Sugbu) that in the olden days the moon was the celestial god Bulan who had been struck by the great Kaptan (lord of the skies). One night the moon sunk to the sea and the next night not only one but seven moons were seen in the night sky, each brilliant and beautiful. Each of the moons had their own deities (residing) representing them. Each of the seven celestial deities was ''dayaw'' meaning superior in comeliness. Each was beautiful with fair and radiant skin, and having long black hair and eyes darker than midnight. Many creatures, gods and monsters coveted the moons. The goddess of the tides Luyong Baybay was one of them, also the demon of the seas Maklium sa Tubig( in the Bicolano version this was Magindang the god of the seas of Bicol), the god of war and plunder Malandok and the god of death and patron of Mt. Madjaas Sidapa. According to myth, the seven moon's beauty radiance reached as far as under the seas, where the goddess Bakunawa guards the passage to the underworld. Bakunawa saw their beauty and wanted to claim the moons as her own. So she transformed herself into  giant-fish-dragon with the mouth as big as the lake. 

The goddess of the tides was infatuated with the celestial deities and she would sing love songs and endearments to them, also the reason why the tides seemingly always rise up to reach the moon. The deity Sidapa outwitted the goddess by ordering mermaids and birds to sing for him his endearments to the moon. The mermaids song drowned the songs of Luyong baybay, the angry goddess sent a gigantic tidal wave to where Sidapa, the birds and the mermaids were. The god of death Simply sliced the tidal wave in half. The god of death also asked the flowers to bloom and make sweet nectar to fully entice the moon gods to descend, and lastly, he captured starlight and gave flight and light to the insects making them fireflies. The fireflies guided one of the moons down. It was Bulan, who was said to be so comely and radiant that the birds and flying beasts dropped from flying stupefied by his beauty. He was androgynous and so lovely with his long black hair and eyes darker than midnight that the mermaids and water monsters for a time being forgot how to swim upon seeing his radiance. The demon-god Maklium sa Tubig ( Magindang) came to where Bulan had descended, Sidapa battled the demon of the sea and defeated him, next it was the god of war and plunder Malandok who came to claim Bulan. Sidapa and Malandok had a sudden clash of steel, their battle was so intense it shook the islands of Visayas. After their extreme battle, Sidapa emerges victorious. The god of death was said to be monstrous with ten golden horns and huge black wings the complete opposite of the comely Bulan, but as soon as moonlight hit his skin it was revealed that he was a handsome and muscular god with a golden crown that resembled horns.  The next night the great dragon-like Bakunawa rose from the depths of the underworld, from the sea the Bakunawa one by one swallowed the moons and the celestial deities whole. When it was Bulan's turn to be devoured Sidapa outflew Bakunawa and snatched Bulan from the sky. Bulan being grateful to Sidapa became his consort and childbride (boy-bride) and as locals believe to this day that the two still reside and are sleeping in each other's arm in the tallest mountain in the Visayas.

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