If Loch Ness has its monster, Lake Lanao had its Omaca-An. Emphasis on “had”. Monster gone. Omaca-An was no match to Rajah Indarapatra who went in search of his slain brother Rajah Solaiman, earlier defeated by the same giant man-eating monster. The legend goes that Rajah Indarapatra swam everyday for many years in the waters of Lake Lanao in search for his brother’s ring, but failed. In his search, he gathered many stones stretching some distance which later formed the Agus River, the only outlet of Lake Lanao. The same river dropped down a deep ravine which is now Maria Cristina Falls.
Now, why name the Falls Maria Cristina in a region that’s predominantly Muslim at the time? Maria Cristina are really 2 persons. Two maidens living near the Falls, in love with the same man. The sisters loved each other very much and their beauty attracted many Datus and Sultans including the son of a Sultan who happened to love BOTH maidens. For this man’s indecision (or infidelity?), each of the 2 sisters sacrificed their lives by jumping from the top of the Falls. Maria, the younger went first. When Cristina learned of her beloved younger sister’s suicide, she likewise threw herself down the ravine. Both maidens gone. And the Sultan’s son? He never married. He buried their bodies under the Falls and named the Falls in honor of the 2 loving sisters he loved and cherished.
The legend about the name Maria Cristina I’ve heard before. Now I’m told there’s another legend from the Maranaw folklore. And this has nothing to do with romance. Rather, it may have something to do with Divine intervention. The legend begins with a mythical hero named Prince Bantugan. The Prince intended to visit the Maranaws with the intention of conquering this tribe. He thus ordered his men to find the biggest and longest tree, and to fashion a big boat out of it. The floating vessel was named Rinamuntao Mapalao, designed with a prow looking like the mouth of a crocodile. Stocked with food, ammunition, and the bravest warriors, the boat sailed with Prince Bantugan along the Agus River, reaching Maria Cristina in 2 days.
When word reached the Maranaws that Prince Bantugan and his warriors have arrived, they gathered for prayer and “sent a storm and an earthquake”. The gods or “tonongs” allegedly heard their prayers upon which Agus River swirled, overflowed and flooded the entire area. Right where the Rinamuntao Mapalao was anchored, the river opened up and swallowed the big boat along with its warriors. The crevice created the ravine over which the Falls cascaded down. According to this legend, the Prince, the warriors and the boat are still within the area, to “rise” only near the end of the world. Meanwhile, the Prince and his army of brave warriors are “enchanted” and exist around the foot of the Falls. Hmmmmm. Quite a story, don’t you think?