Tagalog Myths: Big Dipper in the Sky

Philippine Folk Tales

The Big Dipper in the Sky

In a town named Kabatuhan, there lived a poor mother and child who lived by the grace of God. Because the old woman was a good mother, the child grew up good and respectful.

But bad times came upon the town. All the wells in the town, the only source of water for drinking and for daily needs, ran dry. Soon many people became sick and started dying of thirst. The good old mother also got sick because of extreme thirst.

“My child,” she told the little boy, “find me even just a drop of water to drink, for I’m dying of thirst.”

“Yes mother,” answered the obedient child who then took the coconut shell dipper from their kitchen and went out.

Wherever he went, however, he could find no water. He saw only gloom everywhere, for almost all the people were lying prostrate because of thirst. He continued walking without knowing where to go. All he could think of was his old mother who needed water.

When he had walked some distance, he looked up to heaven and prayed: “My God, please give me a little water for my mother to drink.”

When he looked down he was surprised to see water gushing in front of him. He immediately filled his dipper and, after giving thanks, quickly ran to give the water to his mother. While running, however, he heard someone calling, and when he looked back, he saw an old man.

“Son, please give me even just a sip of your water to moisten my throat.”

Although the water was for his mother, the child gave some of it to the old man, who immediately grew strong and active. The child went on his way half-running, but unfortunately, he tripped and fell, his dipper hitting a stone and breaking into pieces, causing his water to be absorbed by the parched earth.

The child cried about what happened. Thinking of his mother, he again looked up to heaven to ask for water. He then thought of digging at the place where he stood and where his water had been absorbed by the earth. To his great amazement, water gushed up plentifully, and a big well was formed. And when he raised his eyes again to heaven to give thanks, he saw his broken dipper swiftly being carried up to heaven and becoming stars which arranged themselves in the shape of his broken dipper.

In his great joy, the child shouted and called the people who came bringing their water containers. They drank and quenched their thirst. The child got a container, filled it with water, and quickly went home. When he arrived, his good mother was dying, but after drinking, she became well and got up.

“My son,” sighed the old woman, “you are such a good child!”

“Mother, it was God who helped me.”

Since then, every evening the mother and child would watch the dipper-shaped group of stars on the face of the sky.

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