The Legend of Dama De Noche - Night Blooming Jasmine
Dama de noche or known as night blooming jasmine is a shrub that bears white flowers giving off a strong sweet perfume at night. The white flowers are tubular in shape and each blossom which has five acute lobes gives each a star-like appearance.
Having the shrub, also known as night-blooming jasmine or night-blooming cestrum, I find it interesting that the flowers are open at night starting at dusk and the sweet blossoms take a rest again at sunrise closing up their little tubular buds.
This sweet smelling evening flower is known as dama de noche in the Philippines, and here is a beautiful story I wanted to share about how the dama de noche came to be the fragrant flower we now love.
A long time ago, the communities and small villages in the Philippines were ruled by sultans and datus or tribal chiefs. These leaders were loved, served and very well respected by their people. These rulers can do whatever they wish and that includes the woman they intended to marry as they can choose whoever they want to be their wife.
One datu is no different - Datu Makisig. Even at a young age, he's already a well built and elegant young man which is why a lot of maidens by the neighboring villages wanted to be his wife. And these aren't just ordinary maidens. These are the daughters of other rulers. But no one of the maidens had captured the heart of Datu Makisig.
One day, the young datu visited the farthest part of his region and he saw a beautiful maiden. Her name was Dama. Although being poor, Dama was a real beauty. Datu Makisig courted Dama, even showing to the parents of the lovely maiden how much he loves the lady. He won her heart and not long after that, they got married.
Dama made a good, caring wife to the datu. And her presence beautified the small village of Datu Makisig. Not only that, she keeps the datu's place neat and tidy and she makes decorations to put in. Dama always prepare delicious foods for her husband and even to his visitors.
"You are so lucky with your wife, datu. She's not only a beauty and a kind-hearted woman. She cooks well too," the people praised the couple.
And for her husband to have a good sleep, Dama would spray perfume on their room.
The couple had been happy for many years. But there's one happiness Dama couldn't give her husband, a heir. And this has been the reason why Datu Makisig had changed toward his wife Dama. He would no longer eat meals that Dama prrepared and he wouldn't come home at night on some occasions. He rarely speak to his wife as well.
Dama had been sorrowful on how her beloved husband had changed, but instead, she worked harder to served and pleased her husband. There are nights Dama wouldn't eat and sleep just to wait for his husband to come home. This weakened her body. Few days later, Dama was ill.
At last, one night the datu came home and as usual he smelled the sweet perfume his wife Dama used to spray on their room. But this time, as he entered the room he saw Dama lying on their bed, badly ill.
"Our beloved ruler, your wife was severely ill," said the healers of the village as they sit and watch over the sick Dama.
Datu Makisig felt sorry for what happened to his ill wife. He caressed her cheek, hugged and kissed her and asked for forgiveness.
Dama was so happy the datu came home. She opened her eyes and look at her beloved husband with a smile on her lips.
"Thank you for coming home my love. I want to serve you more but God wants to take me away now," she whispered to her husband in a weak voice. "Goodbye my beloved datu."
The whole village mourned. Datu Makisig repented for what he had done as he realized he loved his wife dearly. The lonely datu found a strange green plant sprouting on the grave of his beautiful wife. He took real good care of the plant and he prayed to God to keep the small plant in Dama's grave healthy and green.
Days and weeks went by. The green plant he was taking care of grew and prospered to be a shrub and it developed flowers.
"I thank you Creator for keeping this plant alive and verdant," he whispered. "Thank you for listening to my prayers and leaving me a memory of my beloved Dama."
That very night as the datu entered the room to retire for the night, he smelled Dama's perfume that she used to spray in their room for him to have a good rest. It was as if Dama was there. He looked everywhere in his room to find where the sweet perfume was coming from, but he failed.
But it might be coming somewhere out there from the open window as he could smell the sweet fragrance once again. It seems like it was coming from the grave of his wife Dama. He hurriedly went out the yard and headed to the tomb of Dama where the shrub is growing.
Since then, every night Datu Makisig can be found sitting beside the strange plant, smelling the sweet fragrant flowers her beloved Dama had left him as a token.
Years went by and the Spaniards arrived in the Philippines. They got into the small village Datu Makisig was ruling. And what did they notice? They noticed the verdant shrub surrounding the residence of the datu. As they asked the villagers, the Spaniards learned the love story behind the flowers which sweet fragrance can only be smelled at night.
And because the aroma can only be smelled starting at dusk, and that because it sprouted in the grave of Dama and it smells like the perfume she used, they started calling the shrub Dama de noche.