The Legend of the Sampaguita


Sampaguita, Philippine's national flower

A long time ago, neighboring villages Balintawak and Gagalangin are separated by a strong wall made of dried bamboos. This wall is torn and replaced every five years, sometimes by the guardsmen of Ballintawak and sometimes by the guardsmen of Gagalangin. This is done according to the respective datu’s command.

Rosita, the daughter of barangay Balintawak’s is blessed with incomparable beauty and kindness. Her mother died when she was young but she has four maids to assist her. A lot of admirers tried to win her heart but her heart belonged only to Delfin, son Gagalangin’s datu.

The conflict between their families did not hinder their love for each other. Every night, when the moon is bright they would secretly meet at the end of the fence with Rosita’s maidservants.

One day, the datu of Gagalangin heard that the fence is being destroyed by the servants of datu Balintawak so that they can build a new one. He asked one of his guards to watch at the said fence-making. When the guard came back, he told the datu that the new fence was moved. He was mad because the datu of Balintawak took five meters of their land, in essence occupying a bit of their land. Immediately, he sent a man to the datu of the neighboring barangay.

“Tell him”, he said, “to take the fence back to its original place! He is being unlawful and stealing is a crime!”

When the datu of Balintawak heard about it, he became furious and said, “Tell him that I did not stole anything. I am just returning the wall to it’s original position according to the laws of my ancestors!”

Delfin’s father was enraged when he heard the response. In situations like this, the usual conclusion was bloodshed.

The cheif of Gagalangin prepared his army. By the edge of his sword, he had to take back the land that was taken from him. When the chief of Balintawak heard that the cheif of Gagalangin are preparing for war agains him, he too prepared his army. When the time drew nearer to the day of the attack, the chief of Balintawak suddenly fell ill and not long after that, passed away. Delfin was left with the great responsibility of being general of the army of Gagalangin.

When Rosita heard of this, she was distressed. Delfin was very young and had not had any experience in war. Whereas her father has been honed by many fights ever since he was a child. Indeed, she was extremely distressed. She wanted to speak to Delfin so that the war could be postponed so that they could have a peaceful negotiation with her father. However, there was no time for them to talk. The next day, her father was heading a massive army.

The battle between the two tribes was fierce and bloody. Many men died that day. Delfin was fatally wounded, and because of the amount of blood he lost, he fell to the ground. Before he breathed his last, he gave instructions to his soldiers for his body to be buried next to the wall, near the secret passage where in the full moon, he and Rosita, along with her maidservants, peacefully walked through the lush grass of the fields.

The stories of old never went into details as to the two lover’s story, nor did it mention the result of the battle. All that was said is this: when Rosita heard about Delfin’s death, the young woman fell desperately ill. Her father called the best doctors from everywhere, but none of them could heal the pitiful young lady. Little by little, her strength left her. When Rosita felt that she did not have long to live, she requested that her father that her body be buried next to Delfin’s. Although this was hard on the cheif, he granted the wish of the daughter whom he loved dearly.

Many years passed since that time. The days of the villages and chiefs have long gone and the Spanish came to colonize the land. The city of Manila had been founded and there are now many people living in Balintawak and Gagalangin. However, the people from these two places have been perturbed by one mysterious thing. Every month of May, especially when the moon is bright, there is a mysterious sound heard somewhere in the middle of the two cities. The sound is like that of a young woman, sweetly whispering like a wind in the night, kissing the leaves and the plants. “Sumpa kita!… Sumpa kita!” (“You are my promise.. you are my vow!”) is what they would hear. Some people would wait around but they did not see anything. However, they noticed in the wild part of the area, there grew two trees who’s flowers are small and white with many petals and who’s smell was unbelievably fragrant. This is what the people saw every year on the month of May.

It was not long until they thought of digging underneath the two trees to find out the mystery of that voice and the meaning of the words that were uttered. They did not have to dig too deep until they found something. However, their wonder was only deepened when they saw that the two trees started from the mouths of two skulls, buried close together, with their skeleton still intact. It came back to the memories of the elder people of the story of the two lovers, Delfin and Rosita.

In the meantime, this story, passed down from mouth to mouth has been altered bit by bit. The words “Sumpa kita!” uttered by the evening breeze, to the listeners of the ages has become “Sampaguita”, which is now used for the beautifully scented flowers that sometimes grow on the grave mounds of lovers.