Cebu has its own share of legends that were passed from era to era. One such story is the legend of Maria Cacao. 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 Argao. The legend of Maria Cacao is related with the tablea, it is a Spanish word that implies tablet. It is made out of cacao beans that are cooked, ground and framed into tablets.
Argao has long been known for making delectable tablea. No matter where you go around the country, nothing is as good as those from Argao, until today. It is said that the cacao being used in making tablea come from Maria Cacao. Maria Cacao lives in Lantoy, a big cave up in the mountains. It is surrounded by abundant cacao trees. It is said to be Maria Cacao’s plantation.
This is where the villagers ask for cacao, hence giving her the name Maria Cacao, after maria cacao harvests cacao fruits, It is said that when they delivered cacao, they rode a golden boat named ARGAO along with Mangaw.
Some say he was Maria’s brother, others say her husband. No one was really sure who he was. the only thing they were sure of was that hey exported cacao together.
They always left at dawn, while the whole town was asleep. Every time they passed through Argao river, they would wreck the bridge And every time the bridge broke, the river would flood Whenever the river flooded, the villagers knew that Maria and Mangaw had already set sail. they would bring items from their trips to lend to the villagers. Clothes, plates, spoons, forks and all of them are made of gold. Anything they asked for, she would lend. All they had to do was write down the things that they need and the next day, it would arrive.
It had always been like that, until people started returning broken items, if they even returned them at all. No one knows where Maria Cacao is now. Because of her absence, people have stopped believing in her. But even if Maria Cacao no longer lives here, the people of Argao owe her their livelihood which is thriving up to this day. Argao continues to create the best tasting tablea this country has ever had.
Maria Cacao Sightings : The Sendong Tragedy
Urband legend of a well-lit ship that the victims saw right before the flood that believed to be a representation of “Death” taking the souls of those who waved at it. And recently some elders and children had seen the big ship of Maria Cacao passing the “Mandulog Bridge” in the happenings of Bagyong Sendong (Super Typhoon Washi) in ILIGAN CITY in December 16, 2012.
As what they observed, It is about 2am when they heard a sound which is made by a big ship, that time is when the bridge was destroyed and for Maria Cacao passes their and collected all the souls of the departed and resulted to the flooding of the area.
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.
The legend of Maria Cacao might be a folktale, yet the tablea of Argao is definitely not and some view it as among the best in the country.
CTTO of the images used.