In the days of old, the trees, the birds, the insects and the fishes could talk and so did all living things. One day, a shoot came out of the side of a mother banana tree. It was husky, dark-covered, and thick-leafed. The mother banana tree noticed the difference between the newcomer and her other shoots. She said nothing about her impression.
The other shoots did not keep silent however. And one of them said: “Move away, you dark one. You are not one of us. You are ugly and not graceful.” The little shoot moved some distance away, and there it grew even darker and stronger.
The mother banana tree pitied the dark colored shoot and tried to extend her leaves to shade it from the sun. But the other shoots complained and so she bent to their desire.
One day, the sky grew dark and poured heavy rains. Lightning and thunder broke out. The strong wind blew hard at the mother banana tree and the vain shoots around her, which wailed as their leaves were tattered to pieces. The wind kept blowing harder until the banana family was threatened to be toppled to the ground.
The dark-colored shoot, seeing the banana family in peril, uprooted itself from the ground and wound its body around the family, thus saving them. The dark shoot was limp but was still alive when the storm blew over. Filled with remorse, the other shoots shouted to one another, “Habaka, Habaka,” meaning, “Lift him, lift him.” They lifted him and placed him in a place beside them. There he grew strong and sturdy.
From the wailing of the banana shoots for their dark-colored brother, “Habaka, habaka,” the present name “abaca” was derived.THE MYTHS: Philippine Folk Literature by Damiana L. Eugenio Published by the University of the Philippines Press, 2001.Paperback, 513 pages.University of the Philippines Press, E. de los Santos St., University of the Philippines Campus; Call (+632) 928 2558. Visit www.press.up.edu.ph. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.