God of Rivers and Lakes
He is believed by the Visayans to be the god whom all the rivers of the archipelago follow. He dictates how each river should flow and on what direction. In some Visayan communities he is known as Sumalongson and that he also controls the lakes and the estuarines that lead to the sea. In Panay, it was believed in the olden days that this particular deity lives in Tinagong Dagat lake in Lambunao, a fresh water lake which contains allsorts of freshwater fishes that the locals of the community depended on for livelihood and food. There was also a legend that in the early days, the mythical “goldfish”, a fish which was made of pure gold and would sometimes leave it’s golden scales on the lake floor, was a pet of this river deity and killing or capturing this mythical animal would incur his wrath. The ancient visayans would offer gifts and foods to this river god for safe passage while travelling his waters, making sure they do not disturb his peace while traversing the waterways. The ancient Visayans also believed that this god’s true form is the river itself, and that he was one of the deities blessed with the power of shapeshifting and that polluting or throwing away garbage on the riverbank would make this deity angry, causing flashfloods to happen with enough force to wipe an entire barangay out.
However when the Spanish took over the Visayan region, his worship decreased and people soon start to forget about this river deity, and instead opted to convert and worship God of the Catholic faith. Kasaraysarayan sa Silgan now only exists in the mind of Visayan storytellers who still remembers the mythical tales of deities in heroes by heart passed on from the elder generations of yore, when the world was young and every plant, land and life form was revered and treated with utmost respect.
Related Article: Legend of the Gabi Plant
One children’s folktale about the legend of the Gabi Plant (taro plant) states that once upon a time there was a girl named Matahumon Gab-i (Beautiful Night) whose beauty was the talk of the town. However this girl had a really ugly attitude, stubborn, vain and disrespectful of people, and as much as the people adored her beauty, they stay away from her or her house near the river because she was known to have an ill-temper and would throw stoned and mud at anyone who dares come near her property. One morning though, Matahumon Gab-I was bathing on the river when the river god passed by, he saw her beauty and was quite smitten by the maidens beauty at first sight. The river god wanted to marry her at once, and so he disguised himself first as a handsome youth. He approached the girl but she rebuffed him saying that she only wants mature gentlemen who has money and fame, and she returned to her house without even looking at him twice. The next day, the river god took on the form of a wealthy, older gentleman and knocked on the girl’s door. The girl opened the door but was unimpressed by the man in front of her and she shouted at him to go away. The river god pleaded for her kindness, and asked if he could at least let him in and give him a bowl of water to drink. Matahumon Gab-i was furious, so instead she gave the man a bowl of muddy water and threw it onto his face, and proceeded to threaten the river god with stones if he doesn’t leave her house. This time, it was the god’s turn to be angry and he revealed his true form to the lady, cursing her and telling her she does not deserve a beautiful name as Matahumon, she should have been named only Gab-I instead because her heart was as black as night. The girl realized the folly of her actions and knelt down, to beg for forgiveness, but as she opened her mouth, a sudden flash flood of muddy water from the river entered her house, drowning the woman and destroyed her entire house. The next day, everyone saw that Matahumon Gab-I’s house was nowhere to be found, even her body cannot be seen no matter how much they dig the muddy spot where her house once stood. And even if she had been so cruel and ill-tempered to all of them, they still felt sorry for her and began to weep for her till night time. And just as they were about to return to their homes that night, a plant suddenly grew in front of them. They studied the plant and they noticed that it’s leaves were waxy and rough like the girl’s heart, one of them chewed on a leaf and found it to be stinging and inedible, stating that it was just as bad as Matahumon’s attitude. One woman however decided to take the plant home and took care of it until it multiplied in her backyard near the river, she even named it after the girl and called it Gabi since it sprouted during the night time while they were mourning for her. One day, the woman had nothing left to cook in the house, and her entire family was starving. The desperate woman heard a woman’s voice that sounded like Matahumon from outside and so she followed it and it led her to the gabi patch. The voice then told her to uproot the plant and taught her how to prepare the root and the leaves, and in no time, she was able to feed her family. The woman thanked Matahumon in her prayers and she proceeded to tell the neighbors that Matahumon has repented for her ill-behavior and has brought them the wonderful Gabi plant as her repentance.