Maria Makiling

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Maria Makiling is a character in Philippine mythology who is said to be a diwata (equivalent of a fairy or goddess). She inhabits Mount Makiling in Laguna province, and protects the animals and plants of the mountain from those who would harm or defile it. Folklore usually portrays her as kind and generous towards human beings, giving them gifts and blessings. But when she is provoked to anger by the greed or cruelty of humans, she withdraws her favors and/or dispenses frightening punishments.

Her true name is not known; she is simply called "Maria Makiling" because "Maria" is a generic name for a woman, and "makiling" (crooked/uneven) refers to the mountain. Some say that "Maria Makiling" is the Spanish-era name of Dian Masalanta, the ancient Tagalog goddess of love, pregnancy, and childbirth.


In one story, a man was hunting a wild boar in the mountain, and pursued it all the way to Maria's hut. Although she admonished him for harassing the boar, which was one of her creatures, she allowed him to come inside to rest and eat. Later, as he was leaving, she gave him a salakot full of ginger to bring home to his wife for cooking. As the man was walking down the mountain, the hat seemed to grow heavier and heavier; so he took out most of the ginger and threw it away. But once he was at home, he discovered that the remaining pieces of "ginger" had turned to solid gold. No matter how he searched, he never could find the other pieces that he had thrown away.

In another story, Maria had a lover who was a kind and handsome young farmer. The farmer's animals were always healthy, his crops always bountiful, and his fields were never harmed by storms or drought, thanks to Maria's protection. But one day, when all the unmarried men in the province were being conscripted to fight in the army, the young farmer's parents decided to keep him safe by marrying him off to the daughter of a rich family. He went one last time to visit Maria, who regretfully agreed that he belonged with a mortal woman and bade him goodbye, giving him a dress and jewelry for his bride to wear for the wedding. According to the story, ever since then, Maria no longer appears to other people.

In a slightly different version, Maria actually had three suitors: a humble farmer, a rich mestizo, and a Spanish officer. When she declared her love for the farmer, the two other men were angry, and collaborated with each other to get revenge. They had the farmer arrested on trumped-up charges and sentenced to death. Just before he was executed, the farmer called Maria's name; but by the time she had rushed down the mountain, it was already too late. The grief-stricken Maria angrily denounced the townspeople for allowing an innocent man to be executed. Frightened, the two would-be suitors quickly fled the province; but Maria's vengeance found them, and they both met violent deaths.

A more modern account tells of a group of hikers on Mount Makiling who left their camp littered with human waste and empty cans and bottles. Searching for water, the hikers found themselves returning to the same spot over and over again, no matter how far they walked. Only after they cleaned up their camp did they manage to find water.


  • The Legend of Mariang Makiling, retold by Jose Rizal
  • The Legend of Maria Makiling, retold by Michelle Lanuza
  • Maria Makiling