The Origin Of Waling-waling

Long, long ago in a kingdom by the sea in Mindanao, there lived a brave and powerful sultan, Rajah Solaiman by name. This handsome king warrior was feared far and wide for he was dauntless in war. It was said that he possessed a magical sword - Sundang Lenantion - that can kill thou- sands at the click of a finger. Bal-Lido, the goddess of war, gave this sword as a prize for Rajah Solaiman's superior war tactics that saved Mindanao from foreign invasion in an encounter in the defender's last stronghold at a pass called Seta Tem-mon.

Rajah Solaiman won that battle. He succeeded in driving away the enemy, but during the encounter he sus- tained several wounds that could have proved fatal had it not been for the timely appearance of the goddess of war. Commending him for his good work, she gave the sultan the magical sword, Sundang Lenantion, which means in- vulnerable. Before winning this prize, however, the god- dess of war put him to a test.

"Amputate your left arm," she commanded Rajah Solaiman, "with that sword suspended in mid-air."

Without hesitation, Rajah Solaiman pulled the sword and with all his force, struck his left arm. To his surprise, his arm was not injured.

"You are invulnerable from this time on," the god- dess said. "You cannot be killed by any kind of weapon. You will die only upon my command, and by that time, I'll ask you to surrender your sword, Sundang Lenantion, to me here in this same place. Manage to come and surren- der it personally or just send a trusted one." With this the goddess disappeared.

Our handsome king warrior was dauntless in war as he was in love. This quality made him feared and hated secretly even by his own subjects. Husbands would hide their wives from him, and elders would caution their daugh- ters to get out of his way if they do not like their hearts to be broken.

Rajah Solaiman had quite a number in his harem al- ready, but he kept on adding to his collection of beauties whenever he could. Because he belonged to royalty, he could give up anyone of them at will whenever he got tired of her. Yet, suprisingly, ladies, whether from loyalty or mere commoner, vied for his attentions. To these women, it was a great honor to be Rajah Solaiman's love. For great and expert as he was with sundang, he was greater and more expert still in love; indeed he was a great lover. The mere mention of his name would draw sighs from the ladies.

At the end of the borders of his kingdom overlooking the sea lived a fisherman and his lovely daughter, Waling- Waling. This fisherman was one of the sultan's loyal sub- jects, but he made it a point to hide his daughter in a nearby forest. He was doing this of course for his daughter's sake. He did so with utmost care, lest it be discovered. For who, in all Mindanao can refuse Rajah Solaiman's mandate. Thus, the fisherman could not afford to display his daughter for she was a great beauty indeed.

Waling-Waling had to live therefore in the forest, hid- den on top of the branches of a big lawaan tree, Her father made a tree house there for her and no one in the world knew about it, much less knew how to climb up that dwel- ling. He came early in the morning to bring her food and late at night to see whether she was safe. Meanwhile, he went on with fishing, which was his livelihood. This went on for fifteen long years.

She was a beauty indeed, this fisherman's daughter, with a very fair complexion, long black hair touching the ground, ever rosy bedimpled cheeks, and eyes that twinkled like stars, and with long-curving lashes which would set many a sultan's heart a beating.

If she is of royal blood, she could have been easily married off to any rich datu because of her rare beauty. She was just a commoner, though, that was the pity.

Waling-Waling's tree house was surrounded by sweet smelling ilang-ilang or menurer. Despite the loneliness of the place, she remained as sweet as ever a blushing rose in the desert where none could gaze at its loveliness save the moon and the stars on a bright night.

One day, Rajah Solaiman and his men went on a hunt- ing trip. As they were passing through the area where Wal- ing-Waling lived, he saw the tree-house up in the branches. So he demanded that he be shown how to go up there. Wal- ing-Waling heard him, but she woundn't dare answer out for fear. Then Rajah Solaiman said the whole kingdom should be roused so he would know who her father was.

"Your father," he told Waling-Waling, "shall pay with his life for this crime. He meant to hide you from me, I know. Don't tell, me his name; I'll come to know about it anyway."

Meanwhile, our fisherman - Waling-Waling's father had a bad dream which roused him from sleep. Rising hur- riedly, he ran in the direction of the forest to see his daugh- ter. He felt she was in trouble, and he was right, for when he arrived there stood Rajah Solaiman, still raging with anger.

When the fisherman approached, Rajah Solaiman knew at once that he was the girl's father.

"Fisherman," he said, "why did you do such an unforgiveable crime like this - hiding your daughter from me. Tell her to come down so I could have a better look at her. Obey, old man, or my sundang will fix you!"

"Waling-Waling, come down," her father commanded. "Use the rope and be sure to tie it tightly around your waist."

she obeyed meekly. She was still halfway down the tree when the bright moonlight revealed to Rajah Solaiman her wondrous beauty.

"I will not kill you, fisherman," the Rajah said, "but I will marry your daughter. I'll discard the rest of my harem and she alone will be my wife. She's a beauty indeed! A man that does not admire beauty is not a man.

Before Waling-Waling could reach the ground, how- ever, a strange thing happened. Neither the fisherman nor the Rajah could move. They were transfixed to the ground, while the maiden Waling-Waling was trans´Čüxed on the tree branch. Little by little her form changed until she became a beautiful flower pinned against the branch. The flower had dots of lavander and red on its petals.

When the fisherman and Rajah recovered from im- mobility, they looked up the tree branch, only to see a beautiful orchid hanging where Waling-Waling had been before.

"Waling-Waling!" cried Rajah Solaiman. "Ala-tha-la, my God why did you punish me so"

"Waling-Waling, my daughter," cried the fisherman. "Why did you leave me"

That was how the orchid Waling-Waling came to be. As for Rajah Solaiman, he issued a mandate to his people to gather Waling-Waling in the forest, and the orchids were placed on the branches of tress in front off the palace to remind him of a love that could have been.