The Legend of the First Mermaid
Mermaids are one of the mythological creatures that has been part of many kiddie stories and one character that draws me, actually one of my favorite topics when it comes to comic books. There had been reports of mermaid sightings from different countries such as the reported mermaid sightings from Kirvat Yam in Israel. There were also reported sightings from countries like Scotland, South Africa, and to other parts of the globe. These creatures, or should I say beings are often depicted on paintings and writings as beautiful maidens with their human figure from waist to head and a tail of a fish from waist down.
In the Philippines, they were also portrayed just as the same, a beautiful woman that was believed to lure humans, (usually men) to the sea to whoever can hear their angelic voice as they sing at night. And those that has been lured could never be found. Whatever happened to them, no one knows. But word of mouth says those that were lost and never been found was taken by the mermaids to their kingdom under the sea. There are those who say mermaids are bad luck as fishermen could hardly catch a bounty when mermaid sightings or mermaids are believed to be around. They can also bestow luck on fishing or the opposite, bad luck, when they see that their home was being abused.
Where did mermaids or sirena as they're known in the Philippines come from? Here goes a Filipino legend for these elusive sea creatures.
There was once a couple residing in a small village in which fishing serves as their livelihood and a source of food. A nice and friendly neighborhood and their hut stands not far from the sea. A simple, yet happy life for them.
The couple had been waiting to be blessed with a child they've been waiting for but it wasn't until the third year of their marriage when the wife finally conceived. And you know what? While some pregnant women craves for fruits, or for a specific food, the wife craves for a fish! Most of the time she would asks for milkfish for her meal as that what she craves for. The problem is, her husband isn't always lucky enough to catch milkfish everyday when he goes out fishing. Patiently waiting for his husband and looking forward for a milkfish for a meal and him coming home without a single one disappoints her, making her feeling sulky.
And there was this specific day when the wife pleaded her husband to go back to the sea as she hadn't had the fish she craves for the last few days. And so he went. He's lost in thoughts on how he can catch a milkfish when out of nowhere he could hear a voice in a distance. He ignored it thinking someone was playing some prank on him. But then, he heard his name being called with a male voice prompting him to look into his net.
"I got a milkfish!" he exclaimed in surprised as the thought of making his wife happy with this came to mind.
"This sure is a big fish, " he murmured. This would serve his wife a big meal, for both of them actually.
"I am with the water, from the deepest part of the sea," said the voice. And I am its ruler. I think you are in need of something and I am here to help," came the offer.
Whoever, or whatever was this mysterious someone that had given him this milkfish, he sure sounds like he could lend a hand to his problem. He hesitated for a while, but he decided to tell him his story.
" You see, my wife is pregnant and everyday she craves for a fish, a milkfish." And he added, " the problem is, I don't caught milkfish daily and there were times there's none in the marketplace either."
" I can help you on that. You can even have it everyday if that is what you want," was the response.
"But on one condition......."
What could the condition be?
Hearing this made the fisherman paused for a while. He wasn't expecting that there would be something in return for the offered help. But then he asked.
"And what would that be?"
"Once your child was born and reaches the age of 7, you and your wife will give the child to me."
"Alright," he said. He didn't put much thought into it. It could be some kind of a joke. And this could be the only way to satisfy her wife's cravings. And anyway, that would be 7 years from now, a lot of things could happen and change. And that was the agreement.
"It will start tomorrow," the fisherman heard the voice said.
After that they went separate ways. The fisherman went back to shore and hadn't heard the voice again.
The following day as he woke up, the husband was surprised to see milkfish on the shore. As if someone had put them in there. He remembered the encounter on the sea but didn't expect this, the milkfish ready on the shore and he doesn't have to go on the sea. He gathered all the fish and happily showed it to his wife. This went on even when the child was born.
She gave birth to a beautiful daughter they named Marielle. She was such a joy to her parents and they loved her so much! Everyone who sees her will give praises on how beautiful the child was. Her eyes sparkles, and looks like the eyes of a doll while her hair were as black as the night.
They were such a happy family. They could not ask for more. The couple loves Marielle and she is their happiness. She turned 5 years old, and then six, and soon she will be 7. The father was bothered. he doesn't know how to tell it to his wife, he hadn't even mentioned the strange encounter on the sea.
He couldn't take it one day and he gathered the courage to talk to his wife. He approached her and said ," I have something to tell you. There's something that's bothering me and I don't know if you would believe me or not."
"You look so serious. What is it about?" she asked.
"Do you remember when you were conceiving?" Those days when you would eagerly send me fishing demanding for a milkfish everyday. You were so sulky when I come home without even one and there's none on the market either. You sent me back to sea hoping I would be lucky enough that time. That day I went out there I had a strange encounter with a mysterious being saying he was the ruler of the sea, and he gave me that one big, milkfish. He offered help and in exchange he said he would take our daughter once she turned 7."
"That won't happen! I wouldn't allow it. She's our daughter!" his wife objected as she cries.
The following day the husband went to the sea and spoke out loud," My wife doesn't like the agreement and is opposing to it. She wouldn't allow it and is pleading for you to just let us give you a diamond and buffalos instead in return for all your help."
"Be a man and do as you promised," came the answer.
"The fisherman paused for a while. As he pondered, he thought he would not comply with the agreement. What could this creature do? This creature was on the sea while he and his family was on the land. They're safe as long as they, or their daughter wouldn't go near the shore or on the sea. With that thought, he run as fast as he could without saying anything. He didn't look back either.
The ruler of the sea realized that the man wouldn't do as he promised. This angered him and so he swore to himself that he would kidnap the child the very time she step near the sea.
Do you believe mermaids exist?
From then on the family hadn't been seen sailing or fishing. Until one day, a sailboat landed on their shore. Out of curiosity the villagers came to check the sailboat and saw goods for sale.
One of those that was attracted to the sailboat was Marielle. She hadn't seen a sailboat as beautiful and big as that with all the people busy with all the goods. She was excited to go there and check it out for herself. And besides, her parents wasn't around. It would be her chance.
But then when she arrived in there, the villagers had already left. But with her curiosity, she decided to go check the sailboat. Before she could react, a gigantic wave devoured her. She's so frightened and yelled for help. But it was too late when the villagers came with her worried parents. They looked, and looked for her but she can't be found.
The couple prayed everyday for their daughters safe return. And everyday after they pray, they would take a walk in the shore with the hope of finding their beloved child. Weeks went by, months, and months became years. But no Marielle came back or had been seen.
Then one night, under the full moon light, the old couple decided to take a walk on the shore and reminisce. This was such a sleepless night and they are drawn to the sea. And as they walked, and sat on the shore staring at the sea longing for their daughter, they caught a glimpsed of a beautiful maiden swimming with a long hair down her waist. And as she swims, the couple noticed from her waist down was strange.
Under the light of the moon, they could see her waist down was similar to a fish. And as she swims away, the end of where the feet should be were fins instead.