Similar to Maria Sinukuan of Pampanga's Mount Arayat and Maria Cacao on Cebu's Mount Lantoy, Maria Makiling is the guardian spirit of the mountain, responsible for protecting its bounty and thus, is also a benefactor for the townspeople who depend on the mountain's resources. In addition to being a guardian of the mountain, some legends also identify Laguna de Bay - and the fish caught from it - as part of her domain.
It is often said that Mount Makiling resembles the profile of a woman, said to be Maria herself. This phenomenon is described as true from several different perspectives, so there is no single location associated with this claim. The mountain's various peaks are said to be Maria's face and two breasts, respectively, and her hair cascades downwards a gentle slope away from her body.
Maria Makiling has been consistently described as a young woman of stunning beauty who never seems to age. Lanuza describes her as having "light olive skin, long shining black hair, and twinkling eyes."
It is said that the abundance and serenity of the enchanted mountain complements Maria's own persona.
She is also closely associated with the white mist that often surrounds the mountain. While in just a few stories either her skin or hair is white, in most tales, it is her radiant clothing which makes people who have seen her think that perhaps they just saw a wisp of cloud through the trees and mistook it for Maria.
Superstitions about Maria Makiling
One superstition is that every so often, men would disappear into the forests of the mountain. It is said that Makiling has fallen in love with that particular man, and has taken him to her house to be her husband, there to spend his days in matrimonial bliss.
Another superstition says that one can go into the forests and pick and eat any fruits one might like, but never carry any of them home. In doing so, one runs the risk of angering Maria. One would get lost, and be beset by insect stings and thorn pricks. The only solution is to throw away the fruit, and then to reverse one's clothing as evidence to Maria that one is no longer carrying any of her fruit.
In many other stories, Makiling is characterized as a spurned lover.
In one story, she fell in love with a hunter who had wandered into her kingdom. Soon the two became lovers, with the hunter coming up the mountain every day. They promised to love each other forever. When Maria discovered that he had met, fell in love with, and married a mortal woman, she was deeply hurt. Realizing that she could not trust townspeople because she was so different from them, and that they were just using her, she became angry and refused to give fruits to the trees, let animals and birds roam the forests for hunters to catch, and let fish abound in the lake. People seldom saw her, and those times when she could be seen were often only during pale moonlit nights.
Powers and Abilities
- Immortality - Maria Makiling never ages and cannot die.
- Magic - Maria Makiling is a fairy, she can control the trees and Nature, she can also grant wishes or place curses on others.
- Nature Control - Maria is magically attuned to the forest and can will plants and trees to grow.
- Conjuration - Maria can magically conjure objects. In one such legend, a mother is seeking a cure for her ill child and Maria gives the villager some ginger, which, by the time the villager gets home, has magically turned to gold.
- Invisibility - Maria cannot be seen unless she chooses to be seen.