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When The Lilies Return

Source: Philippine Folklore Stories

A legend of the Chinese Invasion. Quiapo, even at the time of the
early Spaniards, and for years after, was a deserted field. The story
is an old one and generally known to the Tagallos.

At the time when the Pasig flowed peacefully along between flowery
banks; when its breast was not torn by puffing steamers; and when
only a few clustering huts marked the present site of Manila, there
grew on the banks of the river a beautiful field of lilies.

The lilies glistened like silver in the sunlight, and their sweet
odor filled the air with delicious perfume. No hand plucked them from
the earth, and no foot trampled out their fragrance; for an ancient
prophecy had said that while the lilies stood the happiness of the
people should endure.

But after a time there came dark days in the history of the
Philippines. Yellow hordes swept across the water and carried all
before them. The people could hardly expect to resist the invaders,
for their warrior king, Loku, had profaned the word of the god, and,
in the form of a lizard, was fulfilling his punishment. Their armies
were weak and scattered, and the conquerors marched on in triumph.

As report after report of disaster reached Luzon, the people trembled
for the safety of their fair land. Warriors gathered hastily for the
defense of the nation, and all waited for the enemy to appear.

One day the water was dotted with the junks of the invaders. They
came slowly down the bay, and anchored near the mouth of the Pasig.

Then from the boats poured the yellow warriors. Spears rained
upon them, stones and arrows laid them low, but their numbers were
countless. The people were swept back along the river banks.

Fiercely they fought, but numbers told against them. Foot by foot
they were pressed back, till they stood on the border of the field
of lilies, where they made their last stand. But it was to no purpose.

The invaders poured from the ships, and in one desperate charge
drove back the ranks of the people, who fought and died among their
sacred lilies.

All through the night the battle raged, and at daybreak, when the
victorious invaders rested on their spears, the beautiful field was
no more.

The lilies were crushed and torn. The bodies of dead and dying warriors
lay everywhere, and the crushed flowers were stained with the blood
of friend and foe. The peace of the land was lost.

Many years have passed since then. New races have come to the Islands,
and new manners and customs have been introduced. The Pasig still
flows on to the sea, but its banks are harnessed by bridges. Lofty
dwellings and stores take the place of the little huts, and a great
city marks the site of the little village.

Where once was the beautiful field is now a busy part of the great
city. It is called Quiapo, after the lilies. Many of the older people
remember the prophecy and wonder if the lilies will ever return.

The land is now a peaceful and contented one. Comfort and happiness
may be found among its inhabitants. Perhaps the fair, strange women
from the great land over the sea are the lilies. Who can tell?

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