Once upon a time Laguna de Bay was a deep, deep lake. Only a few small villages stood around it.
As time passed, one of those villages became a barrio called Angono.
The little boys and girls bathed in the shallow edge of the lake where the water was as clear as glass. Now and then, a little boy or girl would disap- pear while bathing in the clear water. The boys and girls could not have drowned because every child in the village was an expert swimmer.
With their nets and bancas, the villagers looked and looked for every lost child, but not one of them was found.
One day, a stranger came to Angono to preach the christian gospel. The stranger was well received by the people. They listened to his words of wisdom and of his faith in God.
The villagers asked the stranger to live among them and he did. They taught him their language and told him about the children who had disappeared in the lake.
The villagers were worried. They took their bancas and rowed to where the stranger had van- ished. They scoured the whole area with their, nets and dived under water, but there was no trace of the stranger. At last, they gave him up for lost. like their children.
The stranger was not dead. He walked on and under the water and entered a cavern. He walked on until he came to an underwater palace. There he found many children playing and he saw how many happy they were.
The stranger walked on and came to a beauti- ful chamber made of mother-of-pearl.
"Welcome, stranger." said a sweet voice. "What has brought you to our sea kingdom"
He looked around and saw a mermaid sitting on her throne of pearls.
"I am looking for the lost children of Angono." he said.
"They are alright here. safe and happy," replied the mermaid. "Take them back if you wish."
"Under what condition" he asked.
"On condition that their parents are good and teach them to be good," replied the mermaid.
"I will gladly do that," he promised.
The mermaid showed the stranger around her kingdom and invited him to stay for a week or longer.
The week passed, two weeks, and one early. morning while some women of Angono were wash- ing clothes on the stones at the edge of the lake, the stranger appeared. He walked toward them in the water. They all ran to meet him, and were very happy to see him again.
He told them that their children were all alive. safe and happy in the underwater kingdom.
He added that he was soon leaving Angono. and indeed he was gone the next day.
Soon after, a missionary came to Angono. The vil- lagers welcomed him, and after a few days started building a small chapel. The missionary chose the site of the chapel and the site happened to be over a subterranean passage connecting the barrio with the mermaid's underwater, king- dom.
When the chapel was finished. the missionary said a mass and everyone went there.
That same evening, the mermaid returned a girl, one of the lost children, through a secret passage under the little chapel. The girl went back to her home. The people we're. very happy and grateful to the stranger.
The next day, the people again attended mass in the village chapel. Each night, one child returned home to his parents until all the lost children got back home.
The villagers became good and the mermaid was happy. The fishermen now caught more fish than ever be- fore. The village became prosperous and the people started celebrating a fiesta.
As time passed, the once tiny village became a town. The townsfolk built a big church. Their fish catch was al- ways plentiful and they were a happy people.
Soon they learned that the mermaid had helped them grow prosperous. In gratitude they gave a fiesta in her honor. They built a pagoda and held a procession on the lake. The towns people danced on the rafts made out of bancas put side by side. They sang native songs too. They fed their guests from other villages and towns, and all we're happy.
Since then, the people of Angono have faithfully celebrated the mermaid's fiesta on the lake each year.
The mermaid felt very happy over all this. She like- wise kept her promise. Never again has she taken any child bathing on the lake. It is said that she still appears to fish- ermen of Angono now and then, and they welcome the sight of her.