The Myth Of Mindanao

Once upon a time, in a kingdom by the sea, there lived a powerful ruler named Datu Dipatuan. He was known far and wide for his dauntlessness in war and for the beauty of his daughter, Princess Minda. Princely suitors came and went but nobody was lucky enough to win her in marriage. Not only because the dowry was very substantial but also because the suitors had to undergo three very difficult trials.

The first of these trails was for the suitor to put back in the sack all its mongo contents within twelve hours. The mongo seeds were first thrown and scat- tered among thorny bamboo stumps. The second trial was for the suitor to get from the bottom of the sea, the Datu's ring which he dropped purposely to test the suitor's ability to dive. Failure to recover the ring within twelve hours would mean severe lashing. The third trial was for the suitor to climb back to the surface of the earth from a dark underground stream where there were no stones nor tress to hold on in order to climb back to the surface. Failure to climb back to the surface within twelve hours would mean death by hunger.

The suitors of Princess Minda became fewer and fewer as the years rolled by. Many of those who under- went the trials died and other were discouraged by the fate of those who had tried before them.

In far away Lanao, there lived a Prince Maranao who was known for his valor, supernatural powers, strength, and wisdom. When he heard about the beauty and loveli- ness of Princess Minda, he felt a great desire to win her in marriage despite the great obstacles. He made his inten- tions known to his father, Datu Maurman. The old datu gave his consent and sent his son off with six ships of followers to Datu Dipatuan's kingdom to ask for the hand of Princess Minda.

Having known Prince Maranao's intentions, Datu Dipatuan gave him the first trial. He asked two of his men to scatter a sack of mongo seeds among thorny bamboo stumps. Then he ordered Prince Maranao to put back in the sack all the mongo seeds that it contained before. Prince Maranao was helpless. He had six ships of men. but not one was allowed to get near him. He was heavily guarded.

As the prince sat unhappily on top of the bamboo stumps with barely half an hour left for the completion of the trial, he heard a wee voice speak to him, "Prince Maranao, why are you so sad"

Having told the voice the reason for his sadness. he stared blankly at the setting sun.

"May I help you gather the mongo seeds" the wee voice offered.

"Who are you" the prince exclaimed. "It's me," said the red ant. "lf you can do it, go ahead!" the prince said.

In the winking of an eye thousands, nay, millions of red ants started gathering the mongo seeds. In ten min- utes, the sack was full. The guards were amazed for they did not see the red ants helping the prince. And so Prince Maranao passed the first test.

Then the second test began. Under heavy guard, Prince Maranao was escorted to a waiting vinta and brought to the middle of the sea. Since he was no swimmer, the prince just, stared at the sea. The hours passed, and the guards began to smile at his cowardice. Because of shame, the prince plunged himself into the sea, expecting to be drowned. To his surprise, he landed on a wide highway. A man asked him what it was all about and after having learned it, he told the prince to wait for a while as the ring had been swallowed by one of his followers. Prince Maranao then realized that the man, his host, was the ruler of the Kingdom. In a moment the ring was brought in by, maid-in-waiting and placed on a golden platter.

King Fish bade Prince Maranao goodbye and goodluck. Then as if in a dream, the prince found himself swimming, quite skillfully, towards the waiting vinta. The guards who had dismissed the thought of his being alive. were surprised to see him swimming towards them like an expert. An hour before the deadline, the ring was presented to the Datu who was filled with great pleasure.

The Datu however, was really uneasy, for he did not like to give his daughter away. The time for the third trial had come. So he instructed the guards what to do, they would lower the prince to the underground stream and to make sure that he is dropped headlong to insure instant death. Unknown to everybody, Princess Minda happened to be eavesdropping, and because she was secretly in love with the prince, she thought of a way to rescue him. As Princess Minda arrived at the site where the Prince was to be dropped headlong into the underground stream. she sternly commanded the guards not to follow her father's instructions. Instead she ordered them to tie a second rope around the prince's and her own waists so that she could be lowered with him into the stream.

Prince Maranao was filled with amazement, but he understood everything from the look in her eyes so he felt very happy indeed.

The men had started to lower carefully both the Prince and the Princess into the underground stream when all of a sudden, Datu Dipatuan appeared. The men. were force to cut the ropes just to save themselves from death by the Datu's sword.

The lovers fell so hard that they lost consciousness. It was almost dusk when they recovered their senses.

"How can we get back to the light of day?" The Prin- cess asked.

"I don't know." replied the Prince, "but let us try climb- ing."

"But there are neither stones nor trees to hold on." she declared.

Just then, a little voice began to speak. "My dear Prince and Princess, ride on my back and I will take you to the surface of the earth. The crocodiles will soon emerge from their caves and you two will surely be their prey.

"But you are too small," said the lovers. "How can you carry us?"

"Just try it," said the little bird who had a little voice. In an instant the two stepped on the bird's back and to their surprise the bird soared up, up to the surface of the earth with them clinging tightly to its back.

Datu Dipatuan and his guards were still there and when they saw the lovers safe and sound, they shouted with joy. The Datu begged their forgiveness and right away, he set their wedding celebration which lasted for a month amidst great rejoicing.

When Datu Dipatuan died, Prince Maranao and Prin- cess Minda took over the responsibility of governing the king- dom and they ruled wisely over their domain for the rest of their lives. But of love and esteem for the just and kind couple, the people named their kingdom Mindanao, taken from the names of their beloved rulers, Minda and Maranao.