NATURE AFFINITY: MIRACULOUS WOMAN TALE FROM PHILIPPINES
Erle Frayne D. Argonza / Ra
The tale contained herein is a Philippines version of the previous tale circulating among the Indonesians/Borneans.
The feminine gender is used here as signifier of the ‘miraculous’ powers of the nature world. In Theos Sophia, ‘miracle’ is nothing to ponder about, it is as natural or follows cosmic laws, and mastery of the laws will enable any evolved soul to tap into the infinite endowments of Kosmos.
The folk mind surely has a way of reducing natural laws and cosmic forces into ‘supernatural’ and ‘miracle’ discourse. Sociologically, that is a way how evolving humans make sense of phenomena and forces happening around them. Nature or natura is matter, which comes from the Latin word mater, which in turn means ‘mother’.
Even the endowments of nature they anthropomorphize by projecting human attributes to them. However, the folks never made a mistake by endowing the nature and celestial bodies with consciousness, for indeed consciousness inheres from the minutest atoms to the entire Kosmos itself.
[Philippines, 30 June 2011]
"The man who owned the house, which she saw near the well, was Ini-init — the sun. But he was not in the place of his house, because he went out and went above to make the sun, because that was his work in the daytime. And the next day Aponibolinayen saw him, who went out of his house, because he went again to make the sun. And Aponibolinayen went after him to his house,. because she saw the man, who owned the house, who left. When she arrived in the house, she quickly cooked, because she was very hungry.
"When she finished cooking, she took the stick used in roasting fish and cooked it, and the fish stick which she cooked became cut-up fish, because she used her magic power. When she finished to cook the fish, she took out rice from the pot, and when she had finished to take out the rice from the pot, she took off the meat from the fish. When she finished taking the fish from the pot, she ate. When she finished eating, she washed. When she finished washing, she kept those things which she used to eat, the coconut shell cup and plate, and she laid down to sleep.
"When the afternoon came, Ini-init went home to his house after he finished fishing. He saw his house, which appeared as if it was burning, not slowly. He went home because it appeared as if his house was burning. When he arrived at his house, it was not burning, and he was surprised because it appeared as if there was a flame at the place of his bed. When he was in his house, he saw that which was like the flame of the fire, at the place of his bed, was a very pretty lady.
"Soon he cooked, and when he had finished to cook he scaled the fish, and when he had finished scaling he cut it into many pieces, and he made a noise on the bamboo floor when he cut the fish. The woman awoke, who was asleep on his bed. She saw that the man who cut the fish was a handsome man, and that he dragged his hair. The pot she had used to cook in looked like the egg of a rooster, and he was surprised because it looked like the egg of a rooster; and the rice which she cooked was one grain of broken rice. Because of all this Ini-init was surprised, for the pot was very small with which she cooked. After Ini-init cooked, the woman vanished and she went to the leaves of the betel-nut, where she went to hide.
"After Ini-init finished cooking the fish, he saw the bed, the place where the woman was sleeping, was empty. He was looking continually, but he did not find her. When he could not find her, he ate alone, and when he finished eating he washed, and when he finished washing the dishes he put away, and when he had finished putting away he went to the yard to get a fresh breath. . . . When it began to be early morning, he left his house, he who went up, because it was his business to make the sun. And Aponibolinayen went again into the house.
"When it became afternoon, Ini-init went to his home, and Aponibolinayen had cooked, after which she went out to the betel-nut trees. When Ini-init arrived, he was surprised because his food was cooked, for there was no person in his house. As soon as he saw the cooked rice and the cooked fish in the dish, he took the fish and the rice and began to eat. When he had finished eating, he went to his yard to take a fresh breath and he was troubled in his mind when he thought of what had happened. He said, `Perhaps the woman, which I saw, came to cook and has left the house. Sometime I shall try to hide and watch, so that I may catch her.' He went to sleep, and when it became early morning he went to cook his food. When he had finished eating, he went again to make the sun, and Aponibolinayen went again to his house.
"When the sun had nearly sunk, he sent the big star who was next to follow him in the sky, and he went home to spy on the woman. When he had nearly reached his home, he saw the house appeared as if it was burning. He walked softly when he went up the ladder. He slammed shut the door. He reached truly the woman who was cooking in the house. He went quickly and the woman said to him, `You cut me only once, so that I only cure one time, if you are the old enemy.' `If I were the old enemy, I should have cut before,' said Ini-init, and he sat near her who cooked. He took out the betel-nut, and he arranged it so that they began to chew the betel-nut, and he said, `Ala! young lady, we are going to chew, because it is bad for us to talk who do not know each other's names.' Aponibolinayen answered, `No, for if the rich man who practises magic is able to give to the rich woman who has magical power, soon there will be a sign.' Ini-init said, `No, hurry up even though we are related, for you come here if we are not related.'
"He begged her, and he cut the betel-nut, which was to be chewed, which was covered with gold, and he gave it to the woman who had magical power, and they chewed. When she laid down the quid, it looked like the agate bead, which has no hole for the thread. And the quid of Ini-init looked like a square bead.
"`My name is Ini-init, who often goes to travel over the world. I always stop in the afternoon. What can I do, it is my business,' he said. Aponibolinayen was next to tell her name. `My name is Aponibolinayen, who lives in Kaodanan, who am the sister of Awig,' she said, and when they had finished telling their names, both their quids looked like the agate bead, which is pinoglan, which has no hole. Ini-init said, `We are relatives, and it is good for us to be married. Do not be afraid even though you did not come here of your own accord. I go to Kaodanan,' he said. Then they married, and the sun went to shine on the world, because it was his business, and the big star also had business when it became night."
In some versions the woman who provides food miraculously is a tree-spirit, or comes from a plant or fruit; while in other stories she appears from the sea. In its distribution the tale extends eastward into Melanesia.