Mount Makiling and the Goddess, Mariang Makiling, the Protector & Guardian of the mountain & of Laguna de Bay in the Philippines.


Mariang Makiling, or Maria Makiling, is one of the most famous and well known Goddesses of the Philippines. She is the guardian and protector of the mountain, Mt. Makiling, a dormant volcano, which is her domain. She is the protector of the flora and fauna of the mountain and of Laguna de Bay which is down below.

It is often said that Mount Makiling resembles the profile of a woman laying down, said to be Mariang Makiling herself. This phenomenon is described as true from several different perspectives, so there is no single location associated with this claim. The mountain’s various peaks are said to be Mariang Makiling’s face and two breasts, respectively, and her hair cascades downwards a gentle slope away from her body.

There is some argument whether this spirit was named after the mountain or the mountain was named after her, but it has been noted that the mountain rises from Laguna de Bay “to a rugged top and breaks into irregular hills southward, thus ‘leaning’ or ‘uneven.’” The Tagalog word for ‘leaning’ or ‘uneven’ is “Makiling.”

Descriptions of Mariang Makiling are fairly consistent. She is a breathtakingly beautiful young woman who never ages. Her skin color was a clear pure brown, the kayumangging kaligatan, as the Tagalog say. She had long shining black hair, twinkling dark eyes, her hands and feet were small and delicate and the expression of her countenance always grave and serious. She shares everything she has for free such as fishes in the lake, fruits, crops and food. She is very approachable that the people can reach her anytime on whatever they need.

In University of the Philippines, Los Baños, a University that sits on the foot of Mount Makiling, students still tell stories of a woman in white who is sighted walking down the long uphill road heading to the Upper (College of Forestry) Campus. Sometimes, the woman appears to be trying to hitch a ride down the mountain. Invariably, the observers are said to be frightened and just ignore the woman, believing her to be Mariang Makiling.

The unusual weather patterns on the mountain area are also often attributed to Mariang Makiling. Often this means sudden rains whenever particularly noisy events are held in the areas near the mountain. Locals say that the diwata does not approve of the event. Acclaimed stage and screen actor and director Behn Cervantes relates a reverse version of this legend, during the launching program for the UP Alumni Association’s Mariang Makiling Foundation, an advocacy group formed for the protection and conservation of Mount Makiling:

During our launch, we had a hair-raising experience. When the remarkable Dulce (singer) reached the climax of her song of praise to Nature, she raised her arms as though in veneration of Mariang Makiling. As if on cue, golden leaves from surrounding trees showered the audience like petals from the heavens. The astounded crowd gasped and aahhed in unison. Los Baños’ Dr. Portia Lapitan whispered to me, “The diwata approves.”


There are many stories woven about this Goddess. Most of them deal with her helping the poor and the sick, in the guise of a peasant girl. The precious things she lend the country folk are said to be returned to her, along with the offering of a young pullet with feathers white as milk.

Mariang was always about helping other people. One time, the children of a farmer got sick. When he went to Mariang to seek help, he was given a bilao full of ginger. The farmer sadly went home carrying the bilao of ginger. When he reached his hut, he was greatly surprised: the ginger had turned to gold! Because of Mariang’s kindness, the townsfolk had grown to love her.

A hunter has recounted a face-to-face encounter with the Goddess herself. He was hunting a wild boar, he said, deep into the forest where Mariang Makiling lived. The boar suddenly crashed into some bushes and the hunter, fearing that he would not find it again, dived in after it. When he came to his feet he saw a small hut, and witnessed his prey entering it. He followed the boar into the hut, thinking it deserted, and then he came face to face with a beautiful maiden standing by the boar, who was meek in her presence. The maiden said “This boar is mine and you must not harm it. But I see that you are tired and hurt. Come in, eat, and then go your way.”

The hunter felt compelled to obey her. He sat down at her table, and she served him a porridge that he found was unlike anything he had ever tasted. It invigorated him, and after eating, he felt healed. As a parting gift, Mariang Makiling filled his peasant hat, called a salakot, with yellow ginger.

The hunter, on his way home from the forest, found that his salakot was growing heavier and heavier, and so he broke a few pieces of ginger in half and threw some bits away. Upon coming home, he handed Mariang Makiling’s gifts to his wife, who found that the salakot, instead of containing ginger, as her husband claimed, contained gold. The hunter regretted having thrown away a few bits of ginger/gold along the way.

Another legend is of one afternoon, a hunter came across her domain and saw her. He fell in love with Mariang Makiling and she too felt the same way for him. They talked everyday and promised to love each other forever. Until the day came that Mariang waited for him but he never returned and she later found out that the hunter married a real woman. She was frustrated and deeply hurt that forgiveness was difficult for her to give. She then realized that she cannot trust the townsfolk because she was different from them and that they are just using her for their needs, and abusing her kindness. Later on, the kindness in her heart turned into anger that she refused to give fruits and animals and fishes are vanishing. People seldom saw her that only during pale moonlight nights that they would sometimes see her.

Another story is about Mariang Makiling and her three suitors battling for her love. One of her suitors, a Spanish soldier, another is a Spanish-Filipino mestizo and the last one is a Filipino farmer named Juan. Juan won the love of Mariang Makiling and the other two suitors could not accept their defeat that they’ve plotted to kill Juan. A fire broke down on the fort which they blamed against the Filipinos including Juan. They shot him as a punishment and before dying Juan shouted Mariang’s name. Mariang heard Juan that she went down from the mountain and cursed them for not accepting defeat. She went back into the mountains and no one has seen her again. The Spanish soldier died in a revolution while the Spanish-Filipino mestizo died of illness. Now, when somebody gets lost in the mountain, people often attribute it to the curse of Mariang Makiling.

Until this day people still catch glimpse’s of the Goddess and is also closely associated with the white mist that often surrounds the mountain and is still one of the most well known Goddesses of the Philippines.

About The Author

Executive Editor & Founder

Ligaya is the Executive Editor & Writer at She lives in NYC with her two dogs and spends her time reading, writing, collecting and buying books online and in safe haven, Strand Bookstore, watching her guilty tv show pleasure Vikings, and overdosing herself in coffee as a certified caffeine addict. Her book, Diwatahan: A Look Into the Precolonial Beliefs, Practices, Myths, & Folklore of the Philippines, is currently in progress and is scheduled to be published in Summer of 2017.

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