Laguna de Bay (or Laguna Lake) is the largest lake in the Philippines and the third largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia (in terms of surface area) after Tonle Sap in Cambodia and Lake Toba in Sumatra, Indonesia (Wikipedia).
Located on Luzon island, northern Philippines, between the provinces of Laguna to the south and Rizal to the north, Laguna Lake has a surface area of 949 square kilometers and has an average depth of only about two meters. Laguna de Bay drains to Manila Bay via the Pasig River and is one of the primary sources of freshwater fish in Luzon.
Laguna de Bay is believed to have been formed by two major volcanic eruptions, around 1 million and 27,000 to 29,000 years ago. In Philippine mythology some experts on the evolution of local mythologies suggest that the legend of Mariang Makiling may have started out as that of the Lady (Ba’i) of Laguna de Bay, before the legend was transmuted to Mount Makiling.
Mabuhay ang Laguna de Bay!
The Tikbalang, a half-man, half-horse creature
Duende (elves), kapre (forest monster) tikbalang (half-man half-horse creature), manananggal (monster witch)….the list goes on, Philippine mythology is often a goldmine of fantasy and horror creatures.
Although some would rather say it should be regarded as ‘lower mythology,’ local myths in the Philippines are often tied to the dark recesses of the human mind, a cast of shadowy creatures in epic stories that are told and re-told to instil moral lessons in children or literally frighten them to go to bed on time.
The manananggal (monster witch), for instance, has no equivalent in Western fantasy literature. A manananggal can be your sweet next-door housewife/neighbor who turns herself into a blood-thirsty creature after midnight. This sweet-looking woman transforms herself into a sharp-fanged creature with bat wings and can literally separate her upper body from mid-torso and leave the rest on ground to fly around looking for innocent victims, preferably newborn babies. Her evil tongue also extends to kilometric distances making the creatures in the Alien movies look like fumbling amateurs.
That alone can send young, brattish Pinoy kids scampering to bed under the safety of bedcovers.
Other non-rated or GP myths are related to creation, heroic and epic struggles and the origin of flowers, birds and the bees. Safe but not as morbidly entertaining as the manananggals and tikbalangs.
Long live Philippine myths!