Mariang Makiling, Tagalog Diwata of Mt. Makiling + Full (Super)Moon in Taurus

Artwork by Renz Rubpen

Artwork by Renz Rubpen

Mariang Makiling is the most famous Tagalog diwata (goddess, fairy or spirit), guardian of Mount Makiling in Laguna province in Luzon, responsible for protecting its bounty & a benefactor for the people who depend on its resources. It’s said that the abundance and serenity of the enchanted mountain complements Makiling’s own persona. Some folklorists suggest that she is a later incarnation of Dal’lang, Tagalog goddess of beauty; others of Diyan Masalanta, diety of love who was invoked to stop deluge, storms and earthquakes. While descriptions of her as a beautiful young woman with clear, pure brown skin ("kayumangging kaligatan," as the Tagalogs say) and long shining black hair are fairly consistent, there are many different stories and superstitions about her (and even a retelling by national hero Dr. Jose Rizal). The name "Mariang Makiling" is the Tagalog contraction of "Maria ng Makiling" (Maria of Makiling). The term is a hispanized evolution of an alternate name for the Diwata, "Dayang Makiling" - dayang being an Austronesian word meaning "princess" or "noble lady". The Tagalog word for 'leaning' or 'uneven' is makiling, and it has been noted that the mountain rises from Laguna de Bay to a rugged top and breaks into irregular hills southward, thus 'leaning' or 'uneven.' This corresponds with the common belief that the mountain resembles the profile of a reclining woman from several different perspectives, said to be Maria herself. The mountain's peaks are said to be Maria's face and breasts, and her hair cascades downwards in a gentle slope away from her body. 

Mount Makiling. Image courtesy of Dona Jovita Garden Resort

Mount Makiling. Image courtesy of Dona Jovita Garden Resort

Mariang Makiling is a prominent example of the mountain-goddesses motif in Philippine mythology, other prominent examples being Maria Sinukuan of Pampanga's Mount Arayat and Maria Cacao on Cebu's Mount Lantoy. Unlike Maria Sinukuan and Maria Cacao who live in caves in their respective mountains, Makiling is often described as living in a humble hut. In some stories, this hut is situated in the village, amongst the people, where Makiling lived before she fled to the mountains after having been offended for some reason. In other stories, the hut is up in the mountain, and can only be found if one is allowed by Maria to find it. 

tales & superstitions

Because stories about Mariang Makiling were part of oral tradition long before they were documented, there are hella versions of the legend. Some of these are not exactly stories, but more like superstitions. One is that her favorite time for appearing is after a storm, when she is seen walking around making all damage disappear; flowers bloom, trees straighten, birds chirp, and deer run once again. Another is that every so often, men would disappear into the forests of the mountain. It is said that Makiling has fallen in love with that particular man, and has taken him to her house to be her husband, there to spend his days in matrimonial bliss. Another superstition says that one can go into the forests and pick and eat any fruits one might like, but never carry any of them home. In doing so, one runs the risk of angering Mariang Makiling. One would get lost, and be beset by insect stings and thorn pricks. The only solution is to throw away the fruit, and then to reverse one's clothing as evidence to Maria that one is no longer carrying any of her fruit.

She’s known to have a good heart, helping old women carry their burdens and slipping jewels and gold into their baskets, or feeding tired hunters at her hut & giving them a gift of ginger that turns to gold when they get home. In some versions, the villagers love her all the more for her act of kindness. In most, however, greedy villagers break into Maria's garden to see if her other plants were really gold. Distressed by the villager's greed, Maria runs away up the mountain, her pristine white clothing soon becoming indistinguishable from the white clouds that play amongst the trees on the upper parts of the mountains. She is also closely associated with the white mist that often surrounds the mountain. While in just a few stories either her skin or hair is white, in most tales, it is her radiant clothing which makes people who have seen her think that perhaps they just saw a wisp of cloud through the trees and mistook it for Maria.

In many other stories, Makiling is characterized as a spurned lover. In one story, she fell in love with a hunter who had wandered into her kingdom. Soon the two became lovers, with the hunter coming up the mountain every day. They promised to love each other forever. When Maria discovered that he had met, fell in love with, and married a mortal woman, she was deeply hurt. Realizing that she could not trust townspeople because she was so different from them, and that they were just using her, she became angry and refused to give fruits to the trees, let animals and birds roam the forests for hunters to catch, and let fish abound in the lake. People seldom saw her, and those times when she could be seen were often only during pale moonlit nights.

Mount Makiling still abounds with superstitions and stories concerning Makiling. When people get lost on the mountain, the disappearances are still attributed to the Diwata or to spirits who follow her.

This morning’s Full Moon in the Earthy, sensual sign of Taurus is a Supermoon, the brightest in 68 years. Supermoons are often highly emotional because they’re so close to Earth, but this moon brings a calming & grounding energy. Slow down. Stop and smell the roses. Like Taurus’ ruler, pleasure-loving Venus, indulge your senses. We’re empowered when we enjoy the present, not mourning the past or dreading the future. This Moon brings us home to ourselves and our physical body. Reconnect with Mother Earth. Consider what you need in order to bring more stability to your life. This moon tells us healing comes from building both financial and emotional security, which starts from within. Does your self esteem need some healing work? Taurus reminds us that we live on an abundant Earth where all our needs are taken care of & the more we believe, the easier it is to align with the energy of abundance. This moon is ideal for attracting material wealth & making concrete plans for stable long term goals. Do a sensual, grounded ritual outside, close to the Earth. Wrap your arms around a tree, visualize yourself absorbing its strength & ability to grow and regenerate. Thank the tree for reminding you that nature is resilient & abundant—and so are you.


Resources: Mariang Makiling by Jose Rizal, 1890, Wikipedia, Many Moons: 2016 Workbook Vol. 2 July-December by Modern Women



read next

follow us