The Legend of Papaya
Sweet and delicious, that's what we would hear about people eating the papaya fruit. And true it is, that's why in a tropical country like the Philippines, papaya is a hit specially during the hot summer days. Papaya is one of the favorites and commonly grown amongst yard gardens. While the green unripe fruit is used in cooking, the ripe fruit is simply delicious either in its own or with other fruits chilled and served for dessert.
Not only a delicious fruit but consuming papaya (carica papaya) is healthy for us as it aids in digestion. The papain found in the fruit aids the digestion process and also the key in skin whitening products as this enzyme renew the skin. It is rich in fiber and has antioxidant too. And for diabetics, they don't have to worry about the sugar as papaya is a fruit low in sugar content. Also it can help on reducing inflammation on illnesses such as arthritis and asthma and on lowering the risk of cancer and it has vitamin A C and E vitamin.
Sweet and nutritious it is, but still the strange thought of where the papaya came from still lingers. An answer probably awaits in this Tagalog legend for anyone who wonders how did the papaya come into existence.
There was once a couple and they were always the topic of the gossiping neighbors. They are Bantawan, the husband, and his wife Papay. The couple lives in the mountainous province of Benguet. Harvesting rice is their source of living. Of the two, Papay the wife is hard-working while the husband Bantawan is sluggish. Papay could be seen on the rice field plowing and harvesting rice while Bantawan stays at home.
Their way of living went like this for a good period of time. Then the day came that Papay gave birth so she has to stop working. The couple ran out of rice and so she asked her husband if he can do the work for the meantime while she stays home with their newborn.
" Bantawan, we're out of rice. So I think you should do the work for the meantime in the field," said Papay.
But instead, her husband just shrugged his shoulders off and went back to sleep.
Poor Papay, she has no choice but to do the work herself so she got up, she left her little one at home with her lazy husband and went out to the rice field. She worked hard all day.
The neighbors went crazy looking for Papay when she didn't come home that night. The poor baby, they thought, while feeling sorry for the newborn. She keeps on crying for her mother's milk and Papay wasn't home yet. They looked for Papay everywhere, any place she had possibly went that day. They looked for her from the foot to the top of the hill.
It's been getting late and there's one man in the group of the searching neighbors who had fallen asleep from being worn out. And he had a dream. He dreamed of a tree in the middle of the field that had spoken to him.
"I am the missing mother," the tree told him in his dream. "Give my fruit to my beloved little one that I had left. My baby will live if you let her eat my fruit," added the strange tree.
When he woke up the following day, he went back to the neighbors and told them about his dream. The neighbors didn't waste time, they headed for the site that was on the man's dream. And there standing in the center of the field is a strange tree with broad leaves, heavy in fruits.
"True! This is Papay!" the neighbors exclaimed.
They observed the fruits, it was oblong in shape, some are still green but there are few that are already in vibrant yellow. Those yellow ones are ripe and ready to be eaten.
The people picked the ripe ones. Off they went to the house of the missing Papay and they fed the baby with the fruit. The baby live! And she continuously relied on the fruit for food.
Since then, the unknown tree in the center of the field flourished and produced more fruits. The people started eating the ripe fruits as well. The fruit is delicious and sweet. No wonder the baby ate it, they thought.
And because of the way the tree spoke to the man in his dream, the neighbors decided to call the strange tree after Papay.
As years went by, the tree named papay became papaya. From this very first papaya tree came more papayas, the fruit we now enjoy with all those health benefits.