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|Description||Protector of Mt. Makiling|
|Description||Protector of Mt. Makiling|
Maria Makiling, sometimes spelled Mariang Makiling, in Philippine Mythology, is a diwata or lambana (fairy or forest nymph) associated with Mount Makiling in Laguna, Philippines. She is the most widely known diwata in Philippine Mythology.
Similar to Maria Sinukuan of Pampanga's Mount Arayat and Maria Cacao on Cebu's Mount Lantoy, Maria Makiling is the guardian spirit of the mountain, responsible for protecting its bounty and thus, is also a benefactor for the townspeople who depend on the mountain's resources. In addition to being a guardian of the mountain, some legends also identify Laguna de Bay - and the fish caught from it - as part of her domain.
It is often said that Mount Makiling resembles the profile of a woman, said to be Maria herself. This phenomenon is described as true from several different perspectives, so there is no single location associated with this claim. The mountain's various peaks are said to be Maria's face and two breasts, respectively, and her hair cascades downwards a gentle slope away from her body.
There is some argument whether this spirit was named after the mountain or the mountain was named after her, but it has been noted that the mountain rises from Laguna de Bay "to a rugged top and breaks into irregular hills southward, thus 'leaning' or 'uneven.'" The Tagalog word for 'leaning' or 'uneven' is "Makiling." 
In the highly hispanized Tagalog culture, Maria is often used as a generic name for a girl, such that the name can be interpreted as "the woman of the crooked mountain."
"Mariang Makiling" is the Tagalog contraction of "Maria ng Makiling" (Maria OF Makiling).
Professor Grace Odal of the University of the Philippines believes there is a significant link between Maria Makiling and the mythical woman (Ba'i) for whom the town of Bay and the lake of Laguna de Bay are named.
Descriptions of Maria Makiling are fairly consistent. She is a breathtakingly beautiful  young woman who never ages. Lanuza describes her as having "light olive skin, long shining black hair, and twinkling eyes."
It is said that the abundance and serenity of the enchanted mountain complements Maria's own persona.
She is also closely associated with the white mist that often surrounds the mountain. While in just a few stories either her skin or hair is white, in most tales, it is her radiant clothing which makes people who have seen her think that perhaps they just saw a wisp of cloud through the trees and mistook it for Maria.
Unlike Maria Sinukuan and Maria Cacao who live in caves in their respective mountains, Makiling is often described as living in a humble hut.
In some stories, this hut is situated in the village, amongst the people, where Maria Makiling lived before she fled to the mountains after having been offended for some reason.
In other stories, the hut is up in the mountain, and can only be found if one is allowed by Maria to find it.
Because stories about Maria Makiling were part of oral tradition long before they were documented, there are numerous versions of the Maria Makiling legend. Some of these are not stories per se, but superstitions.
One superstition is that every so often, men would disappear into the forests of the mountain. It is said that Makiling has fallen in love with that particular man, and has taken him to her house to be her husband, there to spend his days in matrimonial bliss.
Another superstition says that one can go into the forests and pick and eat any fruits one might like, but never carry any of them home. In doing so, one runs the risk of angering Maria Makiling. One would get lost, and be beset by insect stings and thorn pricks. The only solution is to throw away the fruit, and then to reverse one's clothing as evidence to Maria that one is no longer carrying any of her fruit.
Perhaps the most common "full" story is that of Maria turning ginger into gold to help one villager or the other. In these stories, Maria is said to live in a place known to the villagers, and interacts with them regularly. The villager in question is often either a mother seeking a cure for her ill child, or a husband seeking a cure for his wife.
The wise Maria recognizes the symptoms as signs not of disease, but of hunger brought about by extreme poverty. She gives the villager some ginger, which, by the time the villager gets home, has magically turned to gold
In versions where the villager is going home to his wife, he unwisely throws some of the ginger away because it had become too heavy to carry.
In some versions, the villagers love her all the more for her act of kindness.
In most, however, greedy villagers break into Maria's garden to see if her other plants were really gold. Distressed by the villager's greed, Maria runs away up the mountain, her pristine white clothing soon becoming indistinguishable from the white clouds that play amongst the trees on the upper parts of the mountains.
In many other stories, Makiling is characterized as a spurned lover.
In one story, she fell in love with a hunter who had wandered into her kingdom. Soon the two became lovers, with the hunter coming up the mountain every day. They promised to love each other forever. When Maria discovered that he had met, fell in love with, and married a mortal woman, she was deeply hurt. Realizing that she could not trust townspeople because she was so different from them, and that they were just using her, she became angry and refused to give fruits to the trees, let animals and birds roam the forests for hunters to catch, and let fish abound in the lake. People seldom saw her, and those times when she could be seen were often only during pale moonlit nights.
In another version of the story, told by the Philippines' National Hero, Jose Rizal, Maria falls in love with a farmer, whom she then watches over. This leads the townspeople say he is endowed with a charm, or mutya, as it is called, that protected him and his from harm. The young man was good at heart and simple in spirit, but also quiet and secretive. In particular, he would not say much of his frequent visits into the wood of Maria Makiling. But then war came to the land, and army officers came recruiting unmarried young men. The man entered an arranged marriage so that he could stay safely in the village. A few days before his marriage, he visits Maria one last time. "I would that you were consecrated to me," she said sadly, "but you need an earthly love, and you do not have enough faith in me besides. I could have protected you and your family." After saying this, she disappeared. Maria Makiling was never seen by the peasants again, nor was her humble hut ever rediscovered.
Michelle Lanuza tells another version of the story, set during the later part of the Spanish occupation:
Maria was sought for and wooed by many suitors, three of whom were the Captain Lara, a Spanish soldier; Joselito, a Spanish mestizo studying in Manila; and Juan who was but a common farmer. Despite his lowly status, Makiling eventually chose Juan.
Spurned, Joselito and Captain Lara conspired to frame Juan for setting fire to the cuartel of the Spanish. Juan was shot as the enemy of the Spaniards. Before he died, he cried Maria's name out loud.
The diwata quickly came down from her mountain while Captain Lara and Joselito fled to Manila in fear of Maria's wrath. When she learned what happened, she cursed the two, along with all other men who cannot accept failure in love.Soon, the curse took effect. Joselito suddenly contracted an incurable illness. The revolutionary Filipinos killed Captain Lara.
"From then on," Lanuza concludes, "Maria never let herself be seen by the people again. Every time somebody gets lost on the mountain, they remember the curse of the diwata. Yet they also remember the great love of Maria Makiling."
Mount Makiling still abounds with superstitions and stories concerning Makiling. When people get lost on the mountain, the disappearances are still attributed to the diwata or to spirits who follow her.
A common story is that of a group of hikers who leave their camp dirty with human waste and empty cans and bottles. Searching for water, the hikers find themselves befuddled, coming back to the same place over and over again. Only after they cleaned their camp did they manage to find water.
In UP Los Baños, a University that sits on the foot of Mount Makiling, students still tell stories of a woman in white who is sighted walking down the long uphill road heading to the Upper (College of Forestry) Campus. Sometimes, the woman appears to be trying to hitch a ride down the mountain. Invariably, the observers are said to be frightened and just ignore the woman, believing her to be Maria Makiling.
The unusual weather patterns on the mountain area are also often attributed to Maria Makiling. Often this means sudden rains whenever particularly noisy events are held in the areas near the mountain. Locals say that the diwata does not approve of the event. Acclaimed stage and screen actor and director Behn Cervantes relates a reverse version of this legend, during the launching program for the UP Alumni Association's Maria Makiling Foundation, an advocacy group formed for the protection and conservation of Mount Makiling:
Maria Makiling is a common theme among Filipino artists, ranging from painters and sculptors to graphic novelists.