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Why the ocean is salty

Narrated by Jose M. Paredes of Bangued, Ilocos Sur. He heard the story from a farmer.

A few years after the creation of the world there lived a tall giant by the name of Ang-ngalo, the only son of the god of building. Ang-ngalo was a wanderer, and a lover of work. He lived in the mountains, where he dug many caves. These caves he protected from the continual anger of Angin, the goddess of the wind, by precipices and sturdy trees.

One bright morning, while Ang-ngalo was climbing to his loftiest cave, he spied across the ocean the ocean at the time was pure, its water being the accumulated tears of disappointed goddesses a beautiful maid. She beckoned to him, and waved her black handkerchief: so Ang-ngalo waded across to her through the water. The deep caverns in the ocean are his footprints.

This beautiful maid was Sipgnet, the goddess of the dark. She said to Ang-ngalo, “I am tired of my dark palace in heaven. You are a great builder. What I want you to do for me is to erect a great mansion on this spot. This mansion must be built of bricks as white as snow.”

Ang-ngalo could not find any bricks as white as snow: the only white thing there was then was salt. So he went for help to Asin, the ruler of the kingdom of Salt. Asin gave him pure bricks of salt, as white as snow. Then Ang-ngalo built hundreds of bamboo bridges across the ocean. Millions of men were employed day and night transporting the white bricks from one side of the ocean to the other. At last the patience of Ocean came to an end: she could not bear to have her deep and quiet slumber disturbed. One day, while the men were busy carrying the salt bricks across the bridges, she sent forth big waves and destroyed them. The brick-carriers and their burden were buried in her deep bosom. In time the salt dissolved, and today the ocean is salty.


I know of no close analogues to this etiological myth.

The hero of the tale, Ang-ngalo, is the same as the Aolo (Angalo) mentioned in the notes to N , footnote). Blumentritt (s.v.) writes, “Angangalo is the name of the Adam of the Ilocanos. He was a giant who created the world at the order of the supreme God.”