How Kidu Came About (The Origin of Thunder Retold)

Written by Ric Cuyob on .

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In the early times, the gods from the sky world always came down to earth to look after the balance of nature. They kept the mountains, hills and plains green and clean. They maintained the rivers, seas and oceans crystal clear and pure. They assured the air and wind to be always fresh and fit to breathe. They laid down the law of mutual dependence as the basis for sustaining the health and well-being of living creatures and non-living things on earth. In their likeness and kindness, they put humankind as the ultimate beneficiary.  

All the gods and goddesses came to Lumawig, their overlord and reported: “The earth is in excellent condition. It is suited for humankind to occupy and bring it to perfection.” With the report, Lumawig found it marvelous and commanded them: “Give humankind the wisdom of good and evil to manage the earth.” 

For innumerable years, life on earth was left to humankind. One day, Lumawig smelled an unpleasant odor coming from earth. As the stink persisted for many days and nights, it became very unbearable. Lumawig got angry and assembled his minions. He said, “Go to earth and find out what the smell is all about.” 

Obedient as the minions were, they went down to earth. They made a thorough investigation and carefully noted everything they saw, smelled, tasted, felt, and heard about the whole of creation. When they went back to the sky world, they told Lumawig the following:

“The earth is suffering from human abuse. Some humans are so cruel and very ambitious. Some are very greedy. Some would even kill their fellow humans to hold on to whatever influence or power they enjoy. Some don’t care about the destruction of the environment. What interests them is to keep accumulating personal wealth. Due to the irresponsible denudation of vast forests, unquenchable consumerism and uncontrollable emission of carbon dioxide, together with many other air pollutants and gases, to the atmosphere, the earth’s temperature surpassed the limit of what it can tolerate. The drying creeks, rivers, seas and oceans, with the absence of freshwater for humans to wash their bodies, bring about the foul smell. The earth desperately needs to be refreshed.”

After hearing their accounts, Lumawig said, “Let us give human beings stern warnings and all sorts of lessons for them to change their ways. We shall invent a new creature to handle the job.”

With the agreement of all the gods and goddesses, Lumawig took out one part on the side of his hot temperedness and another thing on the side of his coolness. He fused them together and a new creature came out with a lightning rod. He took the new creature and endowed it with a roaring voice every time it struck. However, Lumawig found out that the roaring voice was a bit off tune, so he made adjustments. Thereby, though it remained to be a deafening voice, it became comprehensible, “Take care of your planet Earth! Without her, you stand nowhere!”

Lumawig said to this new creature, “From now on I name you, Kidu (Thunder). I assign you the job of striking the walls of ice and letting the water flow down to planet earth.” “Very well, my Lord. Let it be done as you ordered,” answered Kidu and executed the job with might and enthusiasm making the message loud and clear to the whole universe. Satisfied, Lumawig said, “Let it be! We shall keep it that way.”

From then on, humans on earth noticed the striking rod and heard the roaring voice. They found it very scary. From time to time, they would get a taste of its might. And so, it has been that way until today. Kidu always executes the job with enthusiasm and oftentimes, the tip of the striking rod reaches the earth in less than a second and splits trees, blasts electric outposts and kills stray animals including humans. Will humankind ever discern the message in the roaring voice of Kidu?@RC25/11/2020

About the Author

Ric Cuyob is half-Benguet and half-Bontok, and belongs to the Kankana-ey ethnolinguistic of the Cordillera. He lives in Brussels with his wife, Alice, and their daughter, Marivonne. 

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This folktale is a retelling of “The Origin of Thunder” written by an anonymous author in the 1960s intended for grade V pupils at the schools division of the old Mountain Provinces. Today, the name is Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) composed of the provinces of Abra, Apayao, Ifugao, Kalinga, Mountain Province and Benguet including Baguio City.

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