The Silver Shower

: Philippine Folklore Stories

Every night in Manila, when the bells of the city boom out the Angelus

and lights begin to appear in the windows, the walks are filled with

people hurrying toward the bay. In the streets hundreds of carriages,

their lamps twinkling like fireflies, speed quickly by, as the cocheros

urge on the little Filipino ponies. All are bound for the Luneta to

hear the evening concert.

A pretty place is the Luneta, th
garden spot of the city. It is laid

out in elliptical form and its green lawns are covered with benches

for the people. A broad driveway surrounds it and hundreds of electric

lights transform the night into day.

A band stand is located at each end of the oval, and at night concerts

are given by the military bands.

Thousands of people gather to listen to the music. The bright uniforms

of officers and men, the white dresses of American ladies, the black

mantillas of the dark-eyed senoritas, and the gayly colored camisas

of the Filipino girls show that the beauty and chivalry of Manila

have assembled at the concert.

The band plays many beautiful selections and finally closes with the

"Star-Spangled Banner." At once every head is bared and all stand

at rigid attention till the glorious old song is finished. Then the

musicians disperse, the carriages drive away, and people return to

their homes.

Many, however, linger on the benches or stroll along the beach,

watching the water curling upon the shore. As the waves reach the land

a soft light seems to spring from them and to break into thousands

of tiny stars. Now and then some one idly skips a stone over the

water. Where it touches, a little fountain of liquid fire springs

upward, and the water ripples away in gleaming circles that, growing

wider and wider, finally disappear in a flash of silvery light.

Of all the beauties of the Islands, the water of Manila Bay at night

ranks among the first. And those who ask why it flashes and glows

in this way are told the story of the silver shower that saved the

Pasig villages from the Moro Datto Bungtao.

Hundreds of years ago messengers came hurrying from the south of Luzon

with the news that the great Datto Bungtao, with many ships and men,

was on his way to the island to burn the villages and carry the people

away into slavery.

Then great fear came into the hearts of the people, for the fierce

Datto was the terror of the eastern seas, and all the southern islands

were reported captured. Nevertheless, they resolved to defend their

homes and save their people from shame and slavery.

The news proved true, for the Moro chief landed a great army on the

shore of the Bay of Batangas, and his fierce followers, with fire

and sword, started north to lay waste the country.

For a time they drove all before them, but soon Luzon was up in

arms against them and great numbers of warriors hurried southward to

battle with the Moros. All tribal feeling was forgotten and Tagalos,

Macabebes, Igorrotes, and Pangasinanes hurried southward in thousands.

The Moros presently found themselves checked by a large army of men

determined to save their homes or to die fighting.

Near the present town of Imus, in Cavite, a battle was fought and

the Moros were defeated. They then retreated southward, but great

numbers of Vicoles and Tinguianes rushed up from the southern part

of the island and blocked their way.

On the shore of the great Lake Bombon the final battle was fought. The

Moros were killed to a man, and with great rejoicing the tribes

returned north and south to their homes.

But in the meantime Bungtao had not been idle. After landing his men,

with his two hundred ships he set sail northward, never doubting that

his army would sweep all before it. A typhoon carried his fleet far

south into the China Sea, but he steered again for Luzon and three

weeks later was in sight of Corregidor Island.

He sailed down Manila Bay and drew up his fleet in front of the

villages on the Pasig River, the present site of Manila. On the shore

the people gathered in terror, for all the warriors had gone to fight

the invading army, and only old men and women and children remained

in the villages.

Hastily they called a council and finally decided to send a messenger

out to the Moro chief with all the gold and things of value they

possessed, thinking thus to satisfy the fierce Datto and save their

villages from harm.

Accordingly the women gave their rings and bracelets and the men

their bangles and chains. Everything of value was taken from the

houses. Even the temples of prayer were stripped and all the ornaments

taken. So great was the fear of the people that they even sent the

gold statue of the great god Captan that was the pride of the tribe,

whose members came miles to worship it.

As Bungtao was preparing to land and attack the town with his sailors,

the messenger in his canoe came alongside the ship and was at once

taken before the Datto. Trembling with fear, the old man, with signs,

begged for mercy for the people on the shore. He pointed to the

presents and offered them to Bungtao. Then, placing the golden image

of Captan at the feet of the Moro and bowing low, he again pleaded

for the women and children.

Bungtao laughed in scorn at the offer. On his island was gold enough to

satisfy his people. He needed slaves to work in the fields, for it was

beneath the dignity of such warriors as himself and his companions to

labor. So he kicked the messenger from him and, with a curse, picked

up the sacred golden image and threw it far over the water. Instantly

the sky grew dark and blackest night covered the land. The messenger

felt himself seized by invisible hands and carried to the shore.

Then suddenly the heavens opened, and a shower of silver fire rained on

the Moro boats. In vain the Moros tried to escape. The fire hemmed them

in on every side. Many leaped from the burning ships into the boiling

water. When the darkness cleared, boats and Moros had disappeared.

Joyfully the people on the shore ran to the temple of worship to pray

to Captan. What was their surprise to find the golden image of the

god in its usual place, and around it the bracelets and rings offered

to the Moros!

When the warriors, a few days later, returned from their great victory

in the south, they could hardly believe the story of the wonderful

escape of their people. But at night, when they saw the heretofore dull

waters dashing and breaking on the shore in crystals of silvery light,

they knew that it was Captan who had saved their homes and families.

The villages are a thing of the past. The modern city of Manila now

stands on the banks of the Pasig.

The nights here are very beautiful. The breeze sighs softly through

the palm trees and the golden moon gleams on the waters of Manila Bay.

On the shore the waves break gently and little balls of silver light

go rushing up the beach. Wise men say that the water is full of

phosphorus. But they have never heard the story of the Silver Shower.