Malakas and Maganda

"Strong one." In pre-colonial Philippine folklore, the first man and woman. In the beginning there was only sky, sea, and a single bird. The bird grew tired and, while looking for a place to rest, stirred up the sea until its waters reached the sky. The sky then showered the sea with islands in order to calm it down, and told the bird to pick an island to build its nest there.

One day, the bird was struck by a bamboo pole, the child of the land and sea breezes. Annoyed the bird struck at the nodes of the bamboo until it split. From one half a man, Malakas ("strong one") emerged and from the other half a woman, Maganda ("beautiful one"). Then the earthquake called on all the birds and fish to see what should be done with these two, and it was decided that they should marry. They had a great number of children.

One day the couple grew tired of the offspring's idleness and wanted to get rid of them. Malakas grabbed a stick and started beating their children. This scared them so much that they fled to all directions, seeking hidden rooms in the house. Some concealed themselves in the walls, some ran outside, while others hid in the fireplace, and several fled to the sea.

Those who went into the hidden rooms of the house later became the chiefs of the islands. Those who concealed themselves in the walls became slaves, while those who ran outside were free men. The children who hid in the fireplace became dark-skinned; while those who fled to the sea were gone many years, and when their children came back they had white skins.



  • Cook Cole, Mabel. (1916). Philippine Folk Tales. Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co., 187.