Mountains and Volcanoes
The Legend of Kanlaon: A Visayan God Who Smokes Tobacco
Belle Piccio | Dec 09, 2015
Mt. Kanlaon, the highest peak in Central Visayas, is one of the active volcanoes in the Philippines. It is located in the central portion of Negros Island.
It was placed in the limelight last November when the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) observed a minor ash eruption of the Kanlaon Volcano.
The elevation of Kanlaon Volcano is 2,435m or 7,989 ft above sea level and has recorded 26 historical eruptions from 1886 to 2006. When the volcano had a small, steam-driven explosion that lasted for 30 minutes in November 23, 2015, Alert Level 1 (mild restiveness) was raised by PHIVOLCS. The said status hasn't been removed since.
To date, Mt. Kanlaon has no written record of major eruption. Communities in the surrounding area are already used to the volcanic activities and are always ready should the need of evacuating their homes arises. At first, the farmers were just worried of their crops but have already brushed it off seeing the vegetables are healthy on the following days.
Some locals even said that Kanlaon just cleared its throat. While some compared the minor ash eruption to a burp or to a fart.
Mt. Kanlaon is named after the ancient Visayan deity, Kan-Laon, which means “One Who is the Ruler of Time” or the “Exalted One.” Legend has it that the mountain is where Laon made his presence to the people. The volcano is also a pilgrimage site for Negrense hermits, sorcerers, babaylans, and alike. It is believed to be a place where they reflect and meditate to connect with Kan-Laon.
There are many folklores about Kan-Laon. Here is one of them:
The Legend of Mt. Kanlaon
One day, a group of enthusiastic farmers reached the top of the mountain and were greeted by Kan-Laon. Humbled by his presence, one of the tobacco famers asked for the deity's permission to use a part of the land to plant their crops. Kan-Laon, in a happy and good mood, gave his consent with the condition that they will not plant near his house. He drew a line around the mountain top to show the perimeter to the farmers. They complied and went on to farm the land.
Days came and everything was in order. Kan-Laon needed to leave his home to meditate. Before setting off, he reminded the farmers again about the line, warned them not to cross the border, and then disappeared.
Several years passed, the farmers were still following Kan-Laon’s rule. Their crops continued to grow and thrive until there were no longer unprohibited areas. Not knowing when Kan-Laon will be coming back from his meditation, a brave tobacco farmer dared to plant his crop beyond the border. The rest of the farmers were dismayed and was mad at him for not following Kan-Laon’s rule. A few days went by and nothing happened to the farmer who went beyond the line. With this news, the farmer exclaimed to the others that Kan-Laon might have looked for other places and has no plans of coming back. Other farmers then joined him in planting tobacco beyond the border. They continued to plant tobacco for years until Kan-Laon returned unexpectedly.
Kan-Laon was disappointed to see that his home is now a tobacco plantation. He was so angry that with just a silent gesture of his finger, the tobacco crops all dried up and were bundled together right beside him.
The scared farmers knelt and begged for forgiveness. Kan-Laon accepted their apology. Then, the farmers asked for another chance to plant their crops on the mountain. He agreed with the condition that the farmers can only plant again once he finish smoking the tobacco bundles. In the blink of an eye, a crater appeared at the area where he drew the line. Kan-Laon went inside the crater with the bundles of tobacco, never to be seen again.
For locals who knows this version, smoke coming out of the crater just means that Kan-Laon is smoking a tobacco.
(Kanlaon photos courtesy of TV Patrol Negros | Romeo Subaldo unless otherwise stated.)
How to Get There
From Manila, you can fly to Bacolod (Php2500++, round trip, 45 minutes). From Bacolod-Silay Airport, you can take a shuttle (Php75-100 per head), or a cab (minimum of Php400) and ask to be dropped off at your destination.
La Carlota is 45.9km away via San Enrique or 43.2km away via Maao, Bago from Bacolod City. From Bacolod, you can ride a bus plying to La Carlota (about 1-1.5 hours) at the South Terminal.
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