The Legend of Maria of Calaba

Bangued, Abra

Barangay Calaba, Bangued and the Rock

According to the locals, Calaba may have gotten its place name from the Iloco word calab/kalab which means to climb. In the past, people living across the river may have had to climb and scramble through rocks to get to that part we now call Calaba. 

Calaba River is the local name for the portion of Abra River that flows through this part of the province. A 900-m bridge which is known as Calaba bridge has made crossing easier and safer. The bridge has also become a good spot to watch a sunset or a sunrise.

While on the bridge and facing Mt. Bullagao or Abra’s Sleeping Beauty, you may notice a big rock on the left bank. The old folks call it “Takkim Manok”(or chicken droppings). If you wish to have a closer look at it, you can head south on Abra – Ilocos Norte Rd, then turn right onto Calaba Extension. You will pass by the Calaba Fiesta Restaurant. Continue until you reach the river bank. The rock will be on your left. 

Enjoy the view but always be careful. The Legend of Maria of Calaba is engraved into local folklore.


View of the rock from Calaba Bridge

Maria of Calaba

A long time ago, there once roamed a beautiful lady named “Maria” in search of a place to stay. The old folk tells us that she had a beautiful face, with long flowing blond hair and wearing a white dress. Some people call her “Maria Clara” or “Maria Karamot” (because she had long nails), while others simply called her the “Sirena” or mermaid. It is believed that she has chosen the big rock by the Calaba River as her home.

Legend tells us that her nails could extend and reach far across the river to wrap around humans she wished to play with.

Like ordinary people, Maria is playful and knows how to love. Unfortunately, the people she loves or plays with often end up drowning in the river.

People living by Calaba River often hear strange sounds coming from the big rock. Sometimes they hear the Sirena singing when she is in a good mood. There are also times when they hear her in the middle of the night washing clothes using the local “pakpak.” The “pakpak” is like a small paddle used to pound clothes while washing.

But what the people fear the most is when they hear the mermaid cry. This only means that another person will soon drown in the river. She cries because she is lonely and is in search of someone to be with, thus taking a human to join her in the deep. It has been told that she is usually heard crying when the river swells especially after a typhoon.

Some people claim that Maria sometimes walks around the town of Bangued, going to market or joining the procession during Holy Week right beside the image of the Blessed Virgin Mother.

By the big rock, people have discovered a cave submerged in the water. They believe this is where she actually lives but no one dares enter.

To this day, many still believe she is there. Every year, a life is sacrificed in the Calaba River and believed to be the doings of the legendary mermaid named Maria of Calaba.

 Info Source (an obsolete website)
Check out the new website and follow Banguedenio on instagram.

Boatman near Maria of Calaba Rock, Abra, Philippines

The Rock is also mentioned in  the book, The Pain of Bliss, Bangued: Our Lost Town – A personal memoir of Vesta Borbon Bañez⁣. Here is an excerpt from it :-

????? ??? ? ??? ???? ?? ??? ???? ?? ??? ?????? ????? ????? ??? ???? ??? ??? ???? ?? ???? ????. ?? ??? ?????? “?????? ?????” (?? ??????? ??*?), ??? ???? ???? ????? ??? ? ???? ????? ??; ???? ?????? ???????? ?? ????? ???? ????, ????? ??? ?????????? ?? ?????????. ????? ???? ?? ???? ??????? ????? ??? ?????? ????? (???? ????? ?? ??? ????? ???? ?? ????), ??? ?????? ???? ?? ????? ????? — ?? ?? ???????, ?? ????????? ??????, ?? ???? ????? ????????, ?? ??? ??? ???????, ?? ??????????, ?? ???? ??? ????? ??? ???? ?? ?? ???? ? ?????; ?? ?? ????? ? ????? ?????? ?? ??? ??? ??? ??????????? (???????? ??? ??? ????? ?????? ????, ???), ??? ? ????? ??? ????? ???? ?????? ?? ????????????? ???? ?? ??? ???? ??? ?? ???? ?? ?? ??????? ?????…??? ????? ????????? ???????????? ?? ??? ?????? ????? ?? ???? ?? ?? ????? ??? ??? ??????????? ???? ?????? ????? ??? ?????? ??????? ??? ????? ??????? ?? ??? ???? ?? ??????? ?????? ????? ??? ??…⁣



The Rock seen from Calaba Bridge, Bangued.

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The Legend of Maria of Calaba Rock, Abra, Philippines

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Legend of Maria of Calaba, Abra, Philippines

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