The sirena (or mermaid) is one of the most popular mythological sea creatures in the Philippines, especially in the Bicol and Visayas regions. They are perceived as beautiful young women with long alluring hair. With their unusual charm, they can lure their unknowing victims to their deaths. Their lower body is that of a fish and so they have dominion over the waters. They are often thought to be malign and cause unfortunate events like drowning accidents and boat wrecks.
Unfortunately, a day came when Juan failed to catch any bangus. He was very upset because he knew that not presenting bangus to his wife would make her very sad.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a voice called out his name. Turning around, he was surprised to see a shiny bangus wearing a crown. The bangus presented itself as the King of Fishes and asked Juan: "Why do you fish only for bangus?". Juan sadly answered him that her pregnant wife loves to eat bangus everyday but he is out of luck to catch any today.
The King of Fishes pitied Juan and promised him to provide him plenty of bangus everyday. However, in return, he must give his child to him upon reaching the age of seven. Juan was shocked at this condition, but what entered his mind was the thought of how very devastated his wife would be of not having any bangus to eat. These fish were very hard to catch in the present season.
Finally, Juan agreed to the King's terms.
The King of Fishes kept his promise to Juan. He was blessed with an abundant catch for bangus, which continued even after Juana has given birth. Their child was a beautiful baby girl with black hair and they named her "Maria."
Then the time came when Juan should do his end of the bargain. He went to the sea and pleaded to the King of Fishes: "Please I beg you, don't take our daughter away. We love her so much." But the King of Fishes did not yield and said, "A promise is a promise."
Juan went home with a heavy heart. Juan and Juana don't want to part from their precious Maria so they forbade Maria not to go near the sea.
One day, a big beautiful boat came. People were very astonished and flocked to the seaside to take a closer look. Maria saw the commotion and looked out of the window. That time, her father was working on the farm and her mother was by the river doing laundry. Maria eventually got curious and went out to join the crowd at the shore.
The couple ran to the shore but they were too late.
They knew that the King of Fishes had taken her. They were very saddened and stood at the dark shore every night hoping they would see her again.
Years passed and the couple have grown old. One moonlit night, an enchanting creature appeared before the old couple. It had very long and black hair, the same with their lovely Maria. Half of her body was that of a beautiful girl, but the other half was that of a fish. They knew that it is their long lost daughter.
Maria was a very beautiful woman with her long black hair and expressive set of brown eyes. She grew up as a "sirena" (mermaid) with all of her memories as a human erased by the King of Fishes.
Her mermaid family was very kind to her and raised her as their own. The only thing that links her to the human world is her unexplainable admiration of the earth's beauty, which she would observe every full moon.
She was very drawn to the beauty of the surface that she became uneasy and somber. The King of Fishes tried to cheer her up by granting any wish she would please. "I would love to walk among the humans," she pleaded.
The King of Fishes replied, "I will grant your wish, but you can only do so while the moon is full."
And so, Maria was happy to be able to walk on the "pampang" even if only during a full moon. One night, during her stroll, she met a young man walking alone. Maria was naked, but she wasn't aware of her nakedness. The young man was shocked seeing her as she was, but he shoved it aside and just ask her name and why she is roaming along at night.
That was the start of a beautiful friendship between Maria and the young man whose name was Ramon.
Maria was clueless that Ramon is in fact a siokoy (a male sea creature) sent by the King of the Sea. The relationship of Maria and Ramon quickly bloomed into a romantic one, which soon gave fruit to a healthy baby boy. The couple was very delighted of this blessing. They would often swimming together especially on a bright moonlit night.
One evening, when the moon shone a beautiful bright yellow, Maria felt anxious seeing a crowd of fisherman gathering on the pampang. When she came nearer to take a look, she was dismayed and couldn't believe her eyes. Her precious little boy, covered in shiny fish-like scales, was caught in one of the fishing nets! The fishermen then began beating the boy with paddles and sticks. Everything happened so fast that Maria wasn't able to do anything.
His tiny face filled with distraught has faded into darkness.
Her little boy was killed.
Maria was devastated and returned to the sea with a deep mournful heart.
When morning came, the villagers were frightened to see the body of a lifeless fisherman floating to the shore. There were ghastly scratch marks and deep wounds all over the poor man's body.
Thus began the legend of Maria Karamot as she was later called. Her victims would bore "kamot" or scratches all over their body.
Every now and then, people most especially tourists would be found dead at the sea because of drowning. Because there is no logical explanations as to the cause of these incidents, the villages firmly believe that Maria Karamot has again succeeded in taking another victim.
The captivating sea that should have been a source of life and abundance is now home to a deadly grieving mother, longing for her beloved son.