MANILA, Philippines – In Rappler’s new video series “Mga Kuwentong Bayan,’ we rediscover the rich heritage of myths and legends from the various regions of the Philippines.
For this pilot episode, we revisit the story of “The 7 Biraddali Sisters.”
Originally chronicled by Gerald Rixhon in his 1973 book Sulu Studies No. 2, the story was republished in a 2010 compilation of his works entitled Voices from Sulu: A Collection of Tausug Oral Traditions.
The 7 Biraddali Sisters
Adapted by Karl Gaverza
(You can listen to the story told in Filipino in the video here.)
Everyone thinks the biraddali are myths on earth, we’re just too careful to let ourselves be seen. Except for one occasion, one time when one of us let our guard down. You see, us seven sisters take the rainbow down to earth to remove our silver wings and relax and bathe in the fresh mountain springs.
One day, a human saw our wings on the ground and threatened to make us his wives. We eldest sixsisters were wise enough to keep our wings close and when he got near, we put on our wings and flew back to the heavens. But the youngest sister kept her wings further away and the man stole them from her.
A biraddali will not back down. The youngest sister changed into a snake at first, slithering away, but the man was a hunter and trapped the snake in a cage. The youngest then changed into a scorpion and hid amongst the forest floor, but the man’s vision was great, so he saw her scuttling away. The youngest then changed into a centipede, going up the tree branches to escape his advances, but the man was quick, he stopped the centipede at a branch. Finally, the youngest had no choice, without her wings the biraddali’s power was fading.
The youngest acquiesced to being the man’s wife, and she stayed with him, waiting for the day she could get her silver wings and fly back on the rainbow towards the heavens. We elder sisters would not let the youngest remain on earth with the man.
We did not want to risk getting captured by the man ourselves, and each one of us was scared of getting our wings clipped, so we carried our whispers on the winds, hoping that one would reach our trapped sister.
We whispered of the forest and of the trees, telling her that the man buried her silver wings under a tree beside the river. We whispered of freedom and hope. We whispered that we missed her.
And one day, we were heard. The youngest sister escaped the man’s house while he was away and dashed towards the forest. Never had there been a swifter biraddali, and never had any angel knew what freedom had meant.
Everyone will think the biraddali are myths, for we know the cruelty that man can possess. Our wings will never be taken from us. Never again will one of us know the fear of being shackled to the earth. Never again will the rest know the misery of knowing that we are not complete.
We will remain alive in the myths of men and in the beauty of the rainbow. For now, and forever.
Do you know of a folklore passed down by a family member? Did you hear one in the province? Share it with us firstname.lastname@example.org! – Rappler.com
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