Myth of the Pineapple
In the days when the people still feared the spirits, there lived a widow, Aling Nita. She lived with her only daughter Serapinia in a nipa hut near the woods.
Aling Nita had this habit of complaining about everything. When it was cold, she would complain that she got lazy and she couldn't do her work. When it was hot, she would complain that she perspired so much that it was not practical for her to do her work.
She complained about how her neighbors did not keep their front yards tidy. She complained about their children, how they were so naughty when they played with her daughter. She complained about the river that did not give her enough fish and about her trees that did not give her enough fruits.
But the person she complained about the most was the one she was with most of the time, her daughter Serapinia. She would complain that Serapinia always played and seldom helped at home, and that when she did help, she did so clumsily. Serapinia had grown accustomed to the temperament of her mother that she was not hurt by them anymore.
The Filipino gods, Bathala and Diwata
One day, the god Bathala was passing by the village. He saw that the trees were sad and bore no fruits.
"Tell me, created one, why are you like this?" He directed the question to the plants and the trees.
"We get weak, great Bathala, since the clouds do not give us enough water to drink and the sun does not give us enough heat to cook." The plants, although withering, answered the god.
Worried, Bathala went up to Ulap, the god of the clouds, and asked him why he did not give rain down to the earth.
"Great Bathala, I don't think the people like the rain anymore, as I always heard complaints that my winds were too cold when it rained."
"That is not true, Ulap. It is one of your duties to give rain to the people. The people will like it as it will give them cold nights so that they can go to the realm of Tinap, the goddess of dreams. The plants do need it also. They are getting weak. They pray for your rain, companion."
With what Bathala said, Ulap's mood brightened and he promised to give rain to the earth again.
After that, Bathala went to Aldao, the sun god. He asked him why the sun does not give enough light for the plants.
"Great Bathala, I think I am starting to scorch the earth. I heard many complaints that my rays were too hot."
"That is not true, Aldao," Bathala said. "The people need you to see the beauty of the earth we made. And the plants do need you also to cook the nutrients they store inside their bodies. You are doing good and not harm, companion."
The same with Ulap, Aldao promised to show the bright sun again.
Satisfied with what Ulap and Aldao had promised, Bathala went back down to the village to find out why his companions hear many complaints. He disguised himself as a mendicant. He had walked from corner to corner and house to house but he did not find any person complaining.
Until at last he got too tired in his human form that he decided to rest under the shade of the woods. While he was resting, he heard Aling Nita complaining.
With a scowl, the god thought, "this woman does nothing but complain!"
Bathala to fulfil one wish with the hopes of stopping the woman from complaining. He started to walk towards the nipa hut.
He saw Aling Nita, with her hands on her hips, shaking her head. She could still do most of the chores in their home but since she was getting old, she needed Serapinia more and more to help her. She asked Serapinia to find some twigs in the woods to burn for cooking. But Serapinia couldn't find more than two.
"Why are you like this?" Aling Nita bellowed at her daughter. "It is the woods. I am sure that there are a lot of twigs there and all you have to do is look. Oh, if only you have many eyes, eyes that will cover your whole face, I will not have a problem with you!"
Aling Nita, disappointed, went inside the house to nap. She left Serapinia in their backyard, playing. The child who was very used to her mother was not hurt by what she said.
With what Bathala heard, he knew what wish he would grant the human.
In the next day, Aling Nita could not find her daughter anywhere. She started calling for her in the woods but she couldn't find her.
"Serapinia!" She would call out her name but she would find no response.
And then she saw a strange plant that she had not seen before in a corner in the backyard where Seapinia usually played. It was round like a human head with many dots that looked like many eyes watching over the place. When Aling Nita realized what had happened, tears started rolling down from her eyes.
She would call the plant by her daughter's name. "Serapinia... Serapinia... Serapinia!"
From that day on, Aling Nita would not stop saying the name "Serapinia" in front of the plant, and she never complained again.
One day, Palayao, the god who gives names saw the strange new plant. He heard Aling Nita calling it "Serapinia" and the god decided that it must be named "pinya" to make it shorter to say. At once, Palayao transformed himself into a dozen gossipy old ladies and spread the word first in the village, and then in all the places in the earth, that there was a new plant that looked like a human head with many eyes and that it was called "pinya," which is the Tagalog for the Spanish word for pineapple.
The word spread, and soon everyone knew about the plant, "pinya."