The Origin of This World (Maranao)

from the Anthology of Philippine Myths by Damiana L. Eugenio

According to Maranaw folklore, this world was created by a great Being. It is not known, however, who exactly is this great Being. Or how many days it took him to
create this world.

This world is divided into seven layers. The earth has also seven layers. Each layer is inhabited by a different kind of being. The uppermost layer, for example, is the place we
are inhabiting. The second layer is being inhabited by dwarfs. These dwarfs are short, plump, and long-haired. They are locally known as Karibanga. The Karibanga are said to
possess magical powers. They are usually
invisible to the human eye. The third layer of the earth which is found under the sea or lake is inhabited by nymphs. These nymphs also possess certain magical powers. It is
stated in the story of Rajah Indarapatra that he met and fell in love with the princessnymph with whom he had a child.

The sky also consists of seven layers. Each layer has a door which is guarded
day and night by huge mythical birds called garoda. The seventh layer of the sky is the seat of heaven which is also divided into seven layers. Every layer in the sky is
inhabited by angels. Maranaws believe that angels do not need food. They all possess wings with which they fly.

Heaven which is found on the seventh layer of the sky is where good people‘s
spirits go after death. Saints are assigned to the seventh layer while persons who
―barely made it‖ are confined to the lower most layer which is found at the bottom of

It is in heaven where we find the tree-of-life. On
each leaf of the tree-of-life is written the name of every
person living on earth. As soon as a leaf ripens or dries
and falls, the person whose name it carries also dies.
The soul of every person is found in tightly
covered jars kept in one section of heaven. This
particular section of heaven is closely guarded by a
monster with a thousand eyes, named Walo. Walo, in
addition to his thousand eyes, has also eight hairy
heads. The epic Darangan speaks of Madale,
Bantugan‘s brother and, Mabaning, Husband of
Lawanen, entering this section and retrieving the soul
of Bantugan.