24 January 2017

Flooding and the Legend of Maria Cacao

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This morning, while Hope Grace, my wife, was answering a call from a colleague of which they talked about the cancellation of classes by virtue of the order made by the LGU through the municipal mayor upon the recommendation of the MDRRMO, I was busily browsing on my computers of weather updates. Suddenly, she gave the phone to me and the one on the opposite side of the line, Mam Inday, asked me whether or not “Maria Cacao” has already passed by so that the flooding waters will already subside. I just laughed and jokingly replied that “Maria Cacao” was on her way last night toward New Bataan and fetched the shipload of Cacao (Cocoa Beans), and will be back tonight heading to Butuan, so the flood will still continue until tomorrow early in the morning. We both laughed and the call ended.

When we were young, we were told by our parents (elders) that there was a huge invisible Cacao plantation somewhere in the mountainous areas of New Bataan. The plantation was owned by “Maria Cacao” who live somewhere far, farther than as far as Butuan City. She owned a very, very big ship that can carry hundreds of tons of Cacao. Every year, the plantation in New Bataan will harvest the product enough for a full-load of a ship. Because the regular waters of Agusan River were small enough for the ship to pass on, there was a need for flood to keep the cargo vessel going up to the plantation in New Bataan, fetch the harvested Cacao, from the seas somewhere in Butuan and vice-versa. It was believed that the ship travels at night time and passes though Compostela at midnight, a time when almost if not all were sleeping at home. The flood waters stayed to about 3 or 4 days until the ship of “Maria Cacao” finally passed back from New Bataan and headed toward Butuan. Some people even made testimonies before, even now, that they saw the ship, or heard the sound of its horn, or have witnessed the silhouette of the vessel though its shiny lights while traversing the waters of Agusan River. Because the raining before lasted for 3 to 4 days, flooding was inevitable and after the flood waters subsided, all was well for the inhabitants of the town. After the flood, although there were no records to show the collective relief, everyone expressed their unwritten rituals of saying “Hay salamat, nakalabay ra gyud ang barko ni Maria Cacao”.

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That was the legend. While it is not written in books and stored in the annals of any library or archive, “Maria Cacao” has already been encrypted in the memories of the older people, both the living and the dead. Whether we believed it or we did not, the legend was part of us and our lives then, especially in the months of December and January. It has been embedded in our culture in particular and our social existence in general.

However, legends are often forgotten when science enters the scene. On the onset of series of disaster events, the time the government through PAGASA upgraded its capability and capacity to determine hydrometeorological hazards and their occurrence, from Typhoon Ondoy to Sendong, Pablo, Yolanda and up to the present, we the older and the young generations already updated ourselves on the weather conditions. Either through the internet or through mass media outlets, the occurrence of rains and winds may have been caused by weather system with their technical nomenclatures and semantics. Almost if not all of us will authoritatively utter the phases: “Low Pressure Area”, “Tail End of the Cold Front”, “Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ)”, “Through of the Low Pressure Area”, “Isolated Rain Showers and Thunderstorm”, “Tropical Depression”, among others causes flooding. All of the sudden, because of scientific information we have, we may forever forget that once upon a time there was “Maria Cacao” who caused our place to flood in the past.

This is why I write.


The Author, Ruell T. Garcia is a Freelance Development Worker. Visit his official Facebook page and see more of his engaging articles here.