It is fortunate to heard stories from our grandpa’s and grandma’s when our time was young and curious. The best times were imagination is fresh and quick. Although, my grandparents passed already but their memories and stories remain in our hearts and mind. People and things will come and go but stories (though it will revised through the years or with different versions) – still lives on forever. It will pass from generations to generations.

Every country, every city and every province have its own legend and folklore and this story I’m going to retell is a legend from my beloved town “*Argao”.


Year between 1990-1992

“Hi *Lolo and *Lola!” the three little children (one by one) reached out the hands of their grandparents as a signed of respect when they reached home to their grandparents house by sunset.

“Oh thank you mga *apo that you visit us here! God bless you.” Lolo responded as he put his hands to their foreheads to blessed them as the children reached their hands as signed of respect and followed by their grandmother.

(Note: Filipino culture if you are younger and you met elderly person especially in the family circle, as a signed of respect you should reached their right hand, bow down and put the right hand in your forehead and in return they will bless you. Some will said “God bless you.” Others just smiled and bless you in silence.)

“*Salamat!” the children happily said and run inside the house.

“Okay, it’s dinner time and I will prepare the dining table. I am done with your favorite food – *utan manok bisaya!” Lola happily declared her best cuisine to the children.

An hour later…

“Burppp!” the youngest can’t hide it but do the burp in the table when done eating.

“Hahaha!” they all laughed.

“Kids after here in the living room, before you sleep I have a story to tell you. So be ready prepare yourself! Clean and brush your teeth first.” Grandpa told the children.

“Yes, lolo!” the children are very happy, they really loved stories.

At the living room..

{The old grandparents didn’t preferred much on television (they have black and white TV that time and functioned by car battery) they like more in listening to the radio, but this time no TV and no radio. Lolo have the best and great story telling skills than that on TV and radio.} 🙂


“Children have you heard *Mt. Lantoy?” Lolo started the story with a question when all in the living room.

“Noo!” the children replied.

“The legend said that Mount Lantoy is a big mountain – a mysterious mountain with *Engkanto living there.”

“Oohhhh!” stories with mysteries and fantasies are favorite of the children and so this excites them. This time they are seating side by side at the big wooden chair in front of their grandfather attentively – and their imaginations switch ON!

“Some people went there but they never come back.” Lolo continued. “So because of that no one would like to climb to Mount Lantoy – they were scared.”


“Those Engkanto living there are very rich, one of them named Maria Cacao. She is very  beautiful and very rich. She owned a *cacao plantation in Mount Lantoy. She have a big field of cacao that made her one of those rich Engkatadas. They called them Maria Cacao because of the cacao plantation she owned. Her husband named Mangaw – the giant.” 

Balay sa Agta Cave

“Mangaw lived in a cave, they called it Balay sa Agta (House of the Giant cave).” their grandfather continues his story. “The cave have lots of bats inside that when you reached there in the entry these bats will blow you away. Because there were lots of bats in the cave they got lots of guano. Those Guano help Maria Cacao’s plantation too.”

“Lolo what is guano?” the eldest asked curiously.

“Guano is bats’ dung or poop. There were lots of bat’s poop in the cave.” Lolo explained.

The children nodded and keep listening.

“Even the local farmers, some of them tried to go there to get some Guano for fertilizers because it is very good fertilizer that helps plants growth. It’s not easy for them to get there, it is hard to climb – few did but some didn’t returned back home. 

Maria Cacao and Mangaw were very kind. They even allowed people in the village borrow their things, usually kitchen wares (made of gold). Anything you want you can borrow it to them. So the villagers below the mountain gone near the cave to borrow things most especially during weddings. They got plates, glasses and many others from Maria Cacao and Mangaw.

“Really Lo? So some people met Maria Cacao and Mangaw to borrow those things?” the eldest asked.

“Nope, even one person in the village they didn’t met or saw them.” Lolo answered.

“But how?” the eldest confused.

“They wrote it! They all write down the things they needed in a piece of paper and put it near the cave at Balay sa Agta. Then on the next day the things they requested arrived.”

In this photo (as told by our guide  during our visit in the cave) at ‘Balay sa Agta’ is the location where they place all things borrowed if someone borrow and put those things here if returned. <in my story from the old people version they make it near the cave ‘coz it’s risky to get inside the cave.>

“Ahhh – so Lo, if we can go there near at ‘Balay sa Agta cave’ we can borrow some things to them too?” the second child asked.

“No, we cannot do that already today.” Lolo shakes his head.

“But why?” the second kid asked.

“For a long time they did borrowed things to them until when some villagers became naughty. They returned those things with some broken wares or lacking in numbers or not at all.” Lolo answered with sadness. “Maria Cacao and Mangaw got angry and never let them borrow again. Until then the people didn’t heard  from them anymore.

“Ohhhh!” the kids are sad too.

“But Lo, is it maybe because going there is risky too?” the eldest asked.

“Hmmm, you have the point maybe but as what they said they didn’t return the things properly.” their grandfather puzzled but continue the story.

The golden ship named ‘Argao’

“They said Maria Cacao and Mangaw have a golden ship named ‘Argao’. So every time they harvest cacao they exported it to other countries.” 

“Lo, wait – Argao? Our town’s name?” the eldest asked.

“Yes, our town’s name.” grandpa nodded. “They sold cacao not just in the town, not just in the country but to other countries as well. So they used their ship with the name ‘Argao’ to export their products ‘cacao’ to other countries. You know, the legend said that some foreigners knew Argao because of the ship’s name that they saw sailing in their countries.”

“Wow!” the kids were amazed.

“They do it during early dawn while the people were still asleep and during rainy days. Those old times the town have a small bridge that connects one barangay (Langtad) to other barangay (Poblacion) across the river where the ship sails. Every time the ship pass through Argao river from Mt. Lantoy going to the sea – the river overflows and their small bridge destroyed. Until the town decided to make the bridge higher in height from the river, bigger and concrete. This is what we have and use today.” Lolo pauses to take a long breath.

“Ahhhh! That’s why when it rain very strong and the river is deep then maybe their ship passed by.” the youngest concluded with interest but innocently.

“That’s what the legend said.” Lolo nodded. “Also, in the later years – when Argao river overflows that’s the time the people remember about Maria Cacao and Mangaw after they stopped hearing from them.

“Lo, even though we can’t hear from them now – but are they still in Mount Lantoy and in Balay sa Agta today?” the children asked.

“Yes!” their grandfather responded with a big smile and wink. 😀


“You love *Sikwate (*tsokolate) – right?” Lolo asked.

“Yes – of course!” the children responded in chorus.

“Hahaha! No other place in the country can make the best *tablea for tsokolate other than in ‘Argao’. As they said long ago, those cacao that made tablea came from Maria Cacao’s cacao. So every time we drink tsokolate – we can remember them and their legend.” Lolo is sleepy now. “Well, then kids this is the end of my story – it’s time to go to sleep!”

The children got their grandparents hands and greet them ‘good night’. The old grandparents in returned blessed the young children. 🙂

“Lola, we like to drink sikwate tomorrow!!” the children said before going to sleep.

“Okay!” their grandma responded as she guided them to their bed.


Argao - a municipality of southern Cebu, Philippines
Maria Cacao - believed to be a diwata/engkanto (engkantada) who lived in Mt. Lantoy
Mangaw - believed to be a giant spouse of Maria Cacao
Lolo - Filipino grandfather's title when called by grandchildren
Lola - for grandmothers
Apo - grandchildren
Salamat - Thank you
Utan Manok - Chicken soup locally made
Bisaya - referred to the people/places of the Visayas and Mindanao region.
Mount Lantoy - a mountain located inland of municipality of Argao with 593m elevation
Engkanto - equivalent to diwata/fairy/nymph [male-engkantado (encantado); female-engkantada (encantada)]
Cacao - bean-like seeds from which cocoa, cocoa butter, and chocolate are made.
Sikwate - a hot chocolate melted from tablea
Tsokolate - chocolate  
Tablea - tabliya(filipino) is a Spanish word of tablet, in Argao it is made of cacao for sikwate (tsokolate).


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