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THE LEGEND OF ILANG ILANG

In the town of Tayabas, the prettiest was Ilang. She was adored by suitors who promised her all the
comforts of life but she gave her heart to a poor farmer named Edo.

Ilangs parents did not like Edo. They did not want their beautiful daughter to marry a poor farmer
and so they forbade her to see Edo. They told her to choose a husband among her rich suitors.

Ilang and Edo devised a way to see each other. They secretly met at the edge of the forest when
Ilang fetched water from the stream. At these meetings, they always vowed to love each other come
what may.

At home, Ilang remained silent whenever her parents talked about her wealthy suitors. Her silence
made her father suspicious. Perhaps she still loved Edo? One day, her father followed her when she
went to fetch water. He saw Edo waiting near the stream.

That was the last time Ilang and Edo saw each other. From that day on, Ilangs parents forbade her to
leave the house. Ilang felt very lonely and dejected. She refused to eat and became sick. She would
rather die than marry one of her rich suitors.

She thought only of Edo as she got weaker and weaker. Before she died, she begged her parents to
bury her at the edge of the forest near the stream. She wanted to rest in the place where she and
Edo met.

Edo tended her grave everyday. He never married and always yearned for Ilang. Then one day he
saw a little plant growing in her grave. He immediately knew it was Ilangs spirit.

Edo turned his love to the plant until it grew into a tall and graceful tree. Each day Edo caressed and
talked to the tree. Oh, how happy he was visiting Ilangs grave and the tree.

One morning, the people woke up to the scent of perfume. It came from the edge of the forest near
the stream. They went to look for the source of the scent and found the strange leaflike blossoms of
the tree. Then, they noticed Edo crumpled at the foot of the tree and crying, Ilang, Ilang, Ilang

Edo died that morning. The people remembered his last words and from then on called the tree and
its fragrant flowers ilang-ilang

The Little Mermaid, the original mermaid referred to by various cultures and civilizations, and their
records and books testify to the presence of the mermaid. However, many of these reports cite that
the mermaids were not very pretty, as depicted in the movie! The numbers of references available to
Mermaids, from Russia to Japan, India to East Indies, The British Isles to the Atlantic Ocean bring forth
a spirit of curiosity and awe in these magnificent and wonderful creatures that grace the sea.
One of the earliest mentions of the mermaids dates back to well over five thousand years ago, and
finds mention in ancient Mesopotamian culture. According to them, it was the merman, Oannes, which
rose everyday from the water and gave man knowledge, reasoning and brought writing, wisdom,
science and other such civilization institutions. The Mesopotamian culture credits Oannes with the
deed of thrusting forward the civilization by advancing their development and helping man in
technology.
The Assyrians mention mermaids or half human half fish like creatures in records that date back to
1000 BC. According to their folklore, the first mermaid was a goddess that loved a human shepherd,
and eventually killed him. The story goes forth that she tried to hide in a lake out of sheer ill fame and
agony, but the waters could not contain the power of her beauty. Hence, she was transformed into half
a fish, and lo! The first Mermaid was born!
The Greeks also recognized the Assyrian Mermaid and referred to her as Derketo. According to Greek
mythology, King Alexander the Greats sister was transformed to a Mermaid after her death, and she
still lives in the seas in the Aegean.
The Arabians and Persians also mention the Mermaids and Mermen in their famous folk lore, the
Arabian Nights. References to Mermaids and Merpeople are made in a number of stories. However,
more than as half human and half fish creatures, the Arabian version of the Mermaid looked like a
normal human being, but had the uncanny ability to breathe underwater. Some of the stories of the
Arabian Nights deal almost completely with these strange peoples, their cities, their way of life and
their character. The Arabian Nights also make mention of the mermaids that have the hypnotic effect
on sailors. This time it is not their looks that make the sailors helpless and drive them to their doom,
but the beautiful and irresistible songs that the mermaids sing to lure them into their traps.

Strangely enough, the British and English mention of the Mermaid in their folklore does not do the
mermaid any kinder. They consider the mermaid to be a bad omen and the Mermaid is usually an
indication of an upcoming thunderstorm, hurricane or a ship that will eventually sink and go down. The
sight of a Mermaid meant death for all the sailors of the ship that sighted the Mermaid.

The number of paintings of Mermaids and Mermen by various artists and the poems written on these
fascinating creatures has indeed reinforced firmly the fact that they possess a strong hold over native
cultures throughout the world.

The African folklore is also not far behind in the tales of Mermaids. African culture gives the mermaid a
special place in their religion. The god of water Yemaja, is actually a mermaid, and is referred to as the
mother whose offspring are like fishes! The Africans deem the water goddess Yemaja as a very
important and crucial personality among all their gods. According to them, the water goddess Yemaja,
supports all life underneath the water, and without her existence, no other sea creature can survive.

The West Africans also mention the Mami Wata, which is their version of the mermaid, which matches
the description of what we currently consider the Mermaid to be. According to their legends, Mami
Wata is a powerful spirit that can bestow upon one horde of wealth, health, power and immense
beauty. The spirit however, demands in return, a strict confidential sexual fidelity. The goddess sprit is
difficult to please and any slight displeasure caused to the spirit by the human partner will result in the
complete removal of all the accumulated wealth and powers of the human being, rendering the
unfaithful mate helpless in the world. There are festivities that are celebrated in Western Africa even
today, of which Mami Wata forms an important part.

Legends from Warsaw say that the Mermaid swam all the way to Warsaw from the Baltic seas, in order
to take the position of the slain Griffin that the mermaid greatly loved and admired. The Griffin was the
defender of Warsaw, and was killed in the war that followed a Swedish invasion. As a tribute to the
loyalty and courage of the Griffin, the Mermaid took its place unhesitatingly, and has ever since, been
the symbol of Warsaw.

Christopher Columbus also reported sightings of Mermaids in his travel logs. He claimed that he saw
three mermaids that were playing with themselves in the water. According to him, the mermaids were
not as beautiful as ancient texts and literature had mentioned they were, and he testified that they
had a face that resembled a human one with striking and distinctive human like facial features.

Henry Hudson, the explorer and traveler also reported sightings of Mermaids along the coasts of
Russia, near the North Pole. The explorer claims that the mermaid, upon attracting the attention of the
whole crew of his boat, looked earnestly upon all the sailors that gathered. He reported that the
Mermaid had long, flowing black hair, white skin and fully developed breasts of a woman.

There is also the story of the Viceroy of Goa, in India, that performed a completely autopsy on the
bodies of seven mermaids recovered by them from fishermen, after they were caught in their nets off
the coasts of Ceylon, currently Sri Lanka.

There are also reports from Borneo, where local fishermen claimed to have trapped a mermaid in their
nets, following which they brought it to land, and kept it in a large vat, where it died after a few days.
According to them, the mermaid made the noises of a mouse, and shrieked many times, before it
finally died.