In Malanday, Marikina, in Central Luzon, where rice fields flourish, there is a very straight path of stone leading from the side of the road to the center of a harvest realm. The denizens call it "Landas de Diablo" and regard it with superstitious fear. There is a story behind that marvelous work, they say, which makes it warrant their fear. It is a tale involving two young lovers and the Devil himself.
A long time ago, there was a jewel of a girl named Marikita, who
lived in the middle of a rice field. Her home was very far away from the
main road, yet flocks of wooers braved the narrow bridges of land marking
the rice paddies just to see her and sigh. She was lovely. Every young
man in the village was beguiled by her – even Kabanalan, the handsome heir
to an enormous
After one glance at the fair maid, Kabanalan could say that he regarded her with more worth than any priceless trinket in his father’s home. He never wanted to have anything in his possession as badly as he did Marikita. He was gentle and kind, and he won Marikita’s attention instantly.
He promised Marikita that if she would only agree to marry him, he would give her anything she wanted – anything at all!
In truth Marikita liked the young man Kabanalan, and she felt it safe to jest with him. She said, "If you would give me anything, I have this simple boon of you: make me a stone path that would span the length of the rice paddies that separate my father’s humble hut from the main road. I tire of the land bridges. But make me this path before the night is done, for tomorrow is Sunday and I would not want to make my feet hurt one more time, before they reach the church!
"Make me that bridge by tomorrow, and tomorrow we shall wed."
Dazzled by her charm, Kabanalan promised her this. He would build her this impossibility, even if he would do it with his own two hands! Marikita only laughed. She liked the young man Kabanalan.
But Kabanalan took her boon for earnest. When he and Marikita parted, a shadow fell across his face. "I know that even with all my wealth I could not fulfill her wish," he thought sadly. "I would rather kill myself than disappoint her, all the same!"
Despaired, he stumbled into a grove where a solitary mango tree stood, and from the deep shade a handsome stranger emerged.
"I see how heavy your heart weighs by the look in your eyes," the stranger said mysteriously. "Tell me what is wrong, perhaps I can help."
Kabanalan shook his head. "No. No one can help." He sighed forlornly. "I had promised the most beautiful woman in the world an impossible wish."
"What is that wish?" the stranger asked.
Kabanalan told him of the stone path above the rice paddies that Marikita had asked for, and to his surprise, the stranger laughed.
"Is that all!" he cried heartily. "I can do it. I can build that stone road for you overnight."
"Do not jest, I beg of you," Kabanalan said stonily. "She will marry me if I will only grant her this one wish."
"I have no doubt of it," said the wry stranger. "I can build that stone road for you overnight."
Kabanalan was somehow convinced. "If you would be so kind as to do this for me, I shall give you anything you ask for."
"Will you give me your soul?" the stranger demanded.
Kabanalan did not give it a second thought. "Yes, I will," he declared. "If only to please the fair Marikita."
The stranger brought out a piece of paper on which they scrawled their pact. Afterward Kabanalan signed his name at the bottom of the page with his own blood.
The very next morning, Marikita was no less than shocked! She was
stepping out, when she saw this sturdy stone path leading from her doorstep
to the main road, where a carriage and a handsome young man waited, ready
to take her to church. The young man was Kabanalan. Upon seeing his love’s
blank bewilderment shift into an astonished smile, his own features
brightened. Marikita rushed across the stone path toward him, arms outstretched. He was the happiest man on Earth!
But as Marikita drew near, the mysterious stranger from the shadows of the lone grove appeared in a whirl of dust between her and her bridegroom. Everyone who saw him knew him at once. It was the Devil!
"I come to claim my wage!" he cried, and seized Kabanalan. With this prize in tow, the Devil disappeared. Marikita was left alone, staring after the void the builder of the stone path had left behind.
There were some witnesses, who had risen early for Mass, and had
gathered on the main road near the end of the long stone path which they
knew had not been there the night before. They saw Marikita turn deathly
pale as she came to realize what her lover had done for her sake. She stood
still for a long time. Then when her friends from town tried to approach
her, she turned
and ran back into her house, and slammed the door shut. She let no one speak to her, and even her own parents could not come near her.
Marikita was found dead soon after that, floating in the river by which she and Kabanalan used to take long walks. It was said that she had killed herself, but no one was quite so sure.
"Landas de Diablo", the Devil’s Road, still stands, proof of this ancient story of a doomed love.