We found a small outdoor coffee shop called The Sunrise the moment we reached the city of Tayabas, still in Lucena. It was kind of funny knowing that there was a goddess of morning accompanying us and the name of shop was Sunrise. Anyway, the seats were outside the building, so we sat there to continue with our talk.
“If it’s about how we were doing, then we are managing fine, but it’s more like surviving,” I said. “We’re lucky things have not been too dangerous… yet.”
“Yeah. There’s a lot of stuff we have to know. We are all first-timers here,” Amira added.
“Chris does have a lot of stuff to know about Philippines,” Isabelle said.
“And that one too,” I said.
Hanan smiled. “Good to know, somehow. See, the gods knew about this journey you are doing. The great Bathala knew. Even your parents. They were supposed to be proud, but this journey you have taken is very dangerous that even the gods fear the fearful.”
“Why don’t they do something to help us?” Tim asked. “Like, giving us the mutya right away, or stop Bacunawa themselves?”
“Because, my dear boy, we are…” Hanan staggered, but managed to cope up. “We are incapable of doing such things.”
“But what you did back there–” I started.
“That is not what I mean, son of Anitun Tabu. Direct helping mortals is forbidden for us. Sometimes, we do violate them for greater good. But not all the time we must continue to be deviant with our godly rules. That is why we can’t give help all the time. But in fact, Bathala himself had helped you already even if you’re not aware with it.”
I wanted to ask her about those things that Bathala did for us are. But then, I decided not to.
“Did my mother tell you anything? Anything at all?” Amira asked.
“Oh, sweet child of Mayari. She only told me to keep safe.”
There’s sadness in Amira’s eyes that I couldn’t identify what exactly. But she let out a smile that might’ve been caused when she knew that her mother cares for her safety.
“Don’t worry, dear. When the enemy rise… I know she will show up to you. And also the other moon deities. Or rather, former moon deities.”
“There are other moon deities?” I asked.
“Of course,” Isabelle said. “Throughout the country, there are seven known moon deities.”
Beside me, Tim leaned as if he suddenly got interested. “Seven? Like, there were seven moons long time ago. Is it coincidence?”
“No, not at all,” Hanan said, smiling. “You see, these moon deities were already retired from their duties as gods after the six moons were eaten by Bacunawa. There’s Apung Malyari, Delan, Bulon La Mogoaw, Bulan, Libulan, and Haliya, respectively.”
I nodded, knowing a fact from the goddess herself that the moons Bacunawa had eaten long time ago represent lunar gods.
If I was not wrong, those gods were still active, but no longer powerful. “Some of their names sound the same…”
“You mean, from the word bulan. In most translations across the whole country, bulan means moon,” Hanan said. I think that’s why the Tagalog of moon was buwan.
“Mayari is the last remaining moon deity. She’s the seventh moon,” I said.
“They’re retired? Like… I’m old enough so I won’t be a god anymore retired?” Tim asked.
“What I meant by retired is that, they could no longer carry the power to hold a godly position with his or her dominion.”
Amira flinched. “That means they didn’t die when Bacunawa ate the moons.”
“Exactly, but Mayari, as you know, will be retired next if Bacunawa succeeded in his plans.”
“If that happens, she will no longer be a goddess?” Isabelle asked.
“What would she rule over if the moon is already gone?” I asked.
“Hey, Mayari is also the goddess of combat, war, revolution, beauty…”
I held out my hands in defeat. “Okay, okay, fine. But who knows what will happen to her. The other lunar deities might’ve encountered the same.”
Amira began to let a tear drop from her eyes. So before she could do anything else, Tim gave her a handkerchief and enclosed her in a tight hug. “There, there.”
Hanan sighed. “Mayari is… She’s my sister. She was respected among our siblings, including my younger sister Tala.”
“The goddess of stars,” Isabelle said.
“Yes, daughter of Anagolay. You see, we are already in a state of breakdown. And being her sister, we never wanted this to happen especially to her.”
I really didn’t care about their godly family up there. I didn’t even know how their family tree looked like. But we had to succeed in our plans. It was not just to save ourselves, after all. It was all about saving what was left up there–the moon. A lot will be affected not just the humanity, specifically Filipinos, but also the entire ancient Philippine pantheon somewhere above the clouds. And even the world.
But we are more or less fourteen-year old kids, and I couldn’t help but realize that. What we were doing was not easy. Although, I already pledged it to myself. Whatever it costs, even if it would cost my own death, the moon needed to be saved. It was our main goal now. Because saving the moon means saving our families and ourselves.