Bathalang Maykapal, or Bathala for short, is the Supreme God of the ancient Tagalogs and King of the Diwata. All of these beliefs were soon changed after the Spaniards set foot on the islands. Spanish missionaries used Bathala as a way for them to convert the Tagalogs into Christianity by associating him with the Christian God. They also did this to the other deities by replacing them with saints. Since then, the name "Bathala" was used to refer to the Christian God and is still used by Filipinos today, and God is even addressed as "Poong (Panginoon, meaning "Lord") Maykapal".
Bathala and the other gods and goddesses were said to have lived in a kingdom above the skies, called Kalualhatian (Sky World). The Tagalogs used to think that anitos, which are small ancient wooden idols from the Philippines, were his ministers on Earth. His main enemies are the lizard god, Bakonawa, who is ruler of Kasanaan (the Underworld) and his evil spawns of darkness, such as the aswang and the manananggal.
Apolaki, Mayari, and Tala
Many years had passed and the three younglings grew up to become mighty demigods. The time has finally come for them to take their rightful place in Kalualhatian. There was a big feast in the Sky World and both gods and humans were celebrating. After the feast was done, the ceremony of initiation began. Bathala came out of the crowd and summoned his children to stand in front of him. He then appointed them with a task.
Apo Laki was appointed "God of War" and "Guardian of the Sun". Mayari was appointed to be "Goddess of the Moon". Tala was appointed "Goddess of the Stars".
The three offspring of Bathala soon became known to be among the greatest of gods and goddesses.
The story of creation
Bathala was among the first entities of the Earth; along with Amihan, the North Wind, and Aman Sinaya, the sea goddess. It is said that the three deities were created from the collision of the Sky and the Sea. They then decided to divide the world into realms for each of them to rule upon; Bathala reigned over the Sky, Aman Sinaya reigned over the Sea, and Amihan took over the realm in between.
In pre-Hispanic times, natives believed that Bathala created man from a seed, the islands from the boulders of a mountain and the gods from the gems of the Earth. Others say that he was the creator of the Celestial Fire (the Sun), which has given light to the people of the islands.
Creation of the islands and people
In the beginning when the Earth was still young, the gods Bathala, Aman Sinaya, and Amihan were the only beings that existed. Bathala was god of the Sky (Langit) and Aman Sinaya was goddess of the Sea (Linaw). The two had been fierce rivals for a long time. Every day, they would try to outdo each other; Bathala using his lighting bolts and thunder, and Aman Sinaya using her waves and typhoons.
One day, Aman Sinaya decided to send her storm tempests into the Sky to cause a wild commotion. In order to stop her, Bathala threw giant boulders that came from atop of the mountains. It created thousands of islands onto the surface of the Sea (which became to be the Philippine archipelago). Amihan, the North Wind in the middle of the two realms, decided to stop the battle once and for all by taking the form of a bird. He then flew back and fourth between them. This made the Sky and the Sea closer than it was before. At the point where the two realms met, both gods agreed to end the fight and become friends.
As a sign of friendship, Bathala planted a seed underneath the ocean floor. It soon grew into a bamboo reed, sticking out of the edge of the Sea. Amihan had gazed upon it one day and heard voices, coming from inside the bamboo. "Oh, North Wind! North Wind! Please let us out.", the voices said. He pecked the reed once, then twice. When all of a sudden, the bamboo cracked and slit open. Inside were two human beings; one was a male and the other was a female. Amihan named the man, Malakas ("strong"), and the woman, Maganda ("beautiful"). He then flew them onto one of the islands where they settled, built a house, and had millions of offsprings that populated the Earth.
Then, it finally came when the children were too numerous for Malakas and Maganda to control. One day, they were ordered to work in the fields, but instead, they did nothing. When the parents arrived home, they noticed that their instructions weren't followed. Asking for some guidance, they prayed to the great god, Bathala, and he came to them and said, "Let your anger be shown to everyone and it shall make them into what they are meant to be." So out of their anger, they grabbed spoon ladles and began to give blows to everyone.
All the children started running away. Some hid under the bamboo tables and became slaves. A few of them went inside the burning cauldron and turned into the Aetas of the islands. Others climbed up the rooftop and became the datus of the villages. While some climbed on top of the trees and were believed to have become the commoners. Those who fled to the mountains turned into hunters and the ones who ran to the seashore turned into fishermen.
References in popular culture
The Filipino philosophical expression, "Bahala na!" ("Whatever will be, will be!" — compare with que sera, sera) , is said to have its origin from the name, "Bathala"; which is derived from the Sanskrit Bhattara Guru, meaning "the highest of the gods". According to Paraluman S. Aspillera, a writer from the Philippines, the expression might have been altered throughout the ages. It might have originally been "Bathala na!" ("As God wills it!"), but was changed at one point in time. A modern fuller version of the phrase is "Bahala na ang Diyos!" and a comical version some would use is "Bahala na si Batman!".
In the Philippine television series Mulawin, Bathala was mentioned there but he never appeared. He is the one who puts Aguiluz and Alwina, the main protagonist of the series, into a test. In Encantadia, spin-off TV series of Mulawin, Bathala, named as Emré in Enchanta (a language in Encantadia), actually appeared in his anthropomorphic form.
- Ailanto: Bahala Na!
- An Online Guide About the Philippine history
- budpar @ MindSay