Ang Alamat ng Palay

Tagalog Myths: The Origin of Rice

Philippine Folk Tales

The Origin of Rice

Background

Rice is the staple food of Filipinos, and because of this this, we have many stories about rice plants or palay. Our ancestors used their stories to explain how palay was discovered as a crop and rice as a food. In this book, the origin of the palay is related to the livelihood of our ancestors before they became farmers. In the beginning, people depended on their surroundings for food. They hunted, fished, and dug for root crops. Because they gathered food this way, they did not have permanent homes nor sources of livelihood. Then, when they learned how to plant palay, their lives improved.

This story is presented in both Tagalog and English. There is also an audio clip for the excerpts in Tagalog following each section. Enjoy reading and listening to this legend in Tagalog on how humans learned to plant rice.

The Origin of Rice

Noong unang araw, hindi nagtatanim ng halaman at hindi nag-aalaga ng hayop ang mga tao para may makain. Umaasa lamang sila sa kalikasan. Kaya tumitira sila kung saan may pagkain. May tumitira sa mga kuweba sa bundok at nabubuhay sa bungangkahoy at nahuhuling hayop.

Rice Origin Audio Clip

Long ago, people did not plant crops or raise animals for food. They relied only on nature and their surroundings. They would live in places where they could find food. Some stayed in caves and lived on fruits and animal meat.

May tumitira sa tabing ilog at dagat at nabubuhay sa pangingisda. Tumitira sila sa isang lugar hanggang may makakain at humahanap ng ibang lugar ‘pag wala nang makain.

Rice Origin Audio Clip

Some stayed by river banks and the sea, so they could fish for their food. They would stay in a place until food got scarce and then move to another place where food was bountiful.

Kasama ng iba ang mga mag-asawang Banag at Danas sa paghahanap ng bagong lugar ng matitirhan. Dati silang nakatira sa tabing dagat. Ngunit sinira ng malakas na bagyo ang kanilang mga bahay sa tabing dagat. Natatakot silang muling abutin ng bagyo.

The couple Banag and Danas belonged to a group who used to live near the sea.  They were looking for a new place. A fierce storm had destroyed their houses near the sea. They feared the coming of another storm.

“Bakit lagi tayong lumilipat ng tirahan?” tanong ni Banag kay Danas.  “Pagod na akong sa ganitong buhay. Hindi tuloy tayo magkaanak.” Gusto ni Banag na humiwalay sila sa iba at mamalagi sa isang magandang pook.  “Gusto kong isilang doon ang ating anak.”

“Why do we always move our home?” Banag asked Danas. “I am tired of this kind of life. We cannot even have children because we keep moving.”  Banag wanted to seperate from the rest of the group and stay behind in a pleasant place. “I want to bear our child there.”

Sinunod ni Danas ang hiling ng asawa. Pumili sila ng isang magandang pook sa bundok at doon nagtayo ng munting bahay. Tahimik ang napili nilang pook sa bundok at sagana sa prutas at hayop na makakain. May malinaw na batis sa malapit at maraming isdang nahuhuli si Danas.

Danas gave in to his wife’s request. They chose a nice place in the mountains and built a simple house there. Their new home was tranquil and food was bountiful. Nearby was a clear stream where Danas caught many fish.

Ngunit biglang dumating ang tagtuyot. Matagal na hindi umulan at natuyo ang luupa. Namatay ang mga halaman at punongkahoy at nawala ang mga hayop at ibon. Namatay ang mga isda sa natuyong batis.

Naghanap ng pagkain sa malayo si Danas. Ngunit malawak ang dumating na tagtuyot. Naglakad siya nang naglakad at nakarating sa kabilang bundok ngunit wala pa rin siyang makitang pagkain.

But then came a drought. For a long time, no rain fell, and the earth dried up. Plants and trees died,and birds and animals and disappeared. Fish perished in the dried stream.

Danas traveled far to look for food. But the drought was merciless. He traveled until he reached the next mountain Still, he could not find food.

Inabot ng matinding pagod si Danas sa gitna ng isang malapad na parang. Nahiga siya sa damuhan at nakatulog. Noon biglag humihip ang hangin at sumayaw at umawit ang mga damo. Nagising at nagulat si Danas.

Exhaustion caught up with Danas in the middle of a vast field. He lay among the grasses and fell asleep. Suddenly, the wind blew, and the grasses danced and sang. Danas woke up surprised.

Pinakinggan ni Danas ang awit ng mga damo. “Kami ang pag-asa ng tao, Danas. Pulutin mo ang aming mga bungang butil. Masarap na pagkain ang aming mga butil.” Noon napansin ni Danas ang mga uhay ng damo. Hitik sa mga gintong butil ang bawat uhay. Pumitas siya ng isang butil at kinagat. “Bayuhin mo ang aming mga butil para maalis ang gintong balat,” muling awit na masaya ng mga damo. Iluto mo ang puting laman ng butil para lumambot at maging masarap na pagkain.”

Danas listened to the song of the grasses. “We are the hope of the people, Danas. Gather our grains. Our grains are good food.” Danas noticed the head of the grains of the grasses. Each head was full of golden grains. He picked a grain and bit it. “Pound our grains to remove their golden covers, ” sang the grasses. “Cook the white kernels inside the grains to soften them. It is good food.”

Pumitas ng maraming uhay si Danas hanggang mapuno ang kanyan sisidlan at nagmamadaling umuwi kay Banag. “May pagkain na tayo ngayon,” tuwang tuwang balita niya kay Banag. Tulad ng utos ng mga damo, inalisan nila ng balat ang mga butil at iniluto bago kinain.

Danas gathered the grains until his bag was full and then hurriedly went home to Banag. “Now we have food,” he happily told Banag. He removed the golden covers of the grains, as the grasses had instructed him, cooked the grains, and then ate them.

Kinabukasan, nagbalik sa parang si Danas. “Itanim mo ang aming butil, ” awit ng mga damo. “Itanim mo sa lupang pinalambot ng ulan. Tutubo ang mga butil at alagaan mo. Tuwing mag-aani ka’y maglaan ka ng mga butil para muling itanim at alagaan. Matuto kang magsaka at mag-alaga ng halaman at sa pagsasaka ka aasa ng ikabubuhay.”

The next morning, Danas returned to the field, “plant our grains,” sang the grasses. “Plant them on land softened by rain. They will grow, and you will take care of them. When you harvest, save some grains to plant again. Learn to plant and take care of plants. Planting will become your source of livelihood.”

Biglang naramdaman ni Danas ang patak ng ulan. Nagdilim ang langit nang tumingala siya. “Palay ang itawag mo sa iyong pananim,” awit ng mg damo na lalong sumigla ang pagsayaw pagbuhos ng malakas na ulan. “Ibalita mo sa ibang tao ang lahat. Ituro mo sa kanila ang pag-aalaga ng palay.”

Danas suddenly felt raindrops. He looked up to see the heavens darken with rain. “Call your crop palay (rice) ,” sang the grasses which danced vigorously as the rained poured. “Tell other about this. Teach them how to plant palay.”

Sinunod ni Danas ang mga utos ng damo. Gumawa siya ng bukid sa paligid ng bahay at pinag-aralang mabuti ang pag-aalaga ng palay. Itinuro niya sa ibang tao ang natutuhan. Lumawak nang lumawak ang mga bukid na taniman at mula noon, naging mag-sasaka ang mga tao. Hindi na rin sila palipat-lipat ng tirahan.

Danas followed the advice of the grasses. He planted a rice field around his house and studied farming. He taught the others what he had learned. Farms got bigger and bigger and people no longer had to move search for food.

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