The Milky Way and the Filipino Ethnic Beliefs

Filipino Ethnic Beliefs

The Milky Way and the Filipino Ethnic Beliefs

If you look up at the sky during a moonless night, you might see a thin strip of light that is glowing faintly. This is the Milky Way. It is actually a galaxy that is made of millions upon millions of stars. Local communities located along the coasts often refer to it as Binuasay. It is based on the Visayan word, buasay, which means paddle. This is meant to compare the galaxy with the trail left behind by boats as they travel through water.

Other water-based communities have their own comparisons. The fishermen of Marinduque for example call it Daan ng Arko ni Nowe/ Path of Noah’s Ark. That is because to them the Milky Way resembles Noah’s Ark as it sailed through the great flood. Surprisingly even some mountain-based communities use descriptions that are related to water. The Aetas for example call the Milky Way Daan Pawikan or Sea Turtle’s Path. That is because to them the galaxy resembles the track left by sea turtles as they crawl on the beaches.

Among the Tausug, Sama, and Maranao, the Milky Way is seen as a Naga. It is a mythical serpent creature that was shared with us by our Southeast Asian and Hindu neighbors. According to one folklore, the Naga live in a cake. Every time it comes out, the ground would shake and there would be much destruction. One family that survived the Naga’s devastation fled to the mountains. There they prayed that gods would take the serpent away. The gods answered their prayers and then they took the Naga to the skies. But one day the Naga would return to Earth and then it would eat all those who rebel against the commandment of the gods.

Reference: NM-Planetarium