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Bakunawa: The Tale of a Dragon and Seven Moons

This dragon-like serpent is deeply woven into the cultural fabric of the Philippines, and its legend continues to captivate the imaginations of many. In this blog, we will delve into the enthralling story of the Bakunawa and the mystery of the seven moons, exploring its origins, significance, and enduring influence on Filipino mythology.

The Origins of Bakunawa

The name “Bakunawa” is derived from the Cebuano and Bisaya term “baku” (meaning “to cover”) and “nawa” (meaning “causer”). Thus, Bakunawa is often referred to as the “Moon-Eater” or the “Eclipse Bringer” due to its role in causing lunar eclipses. According to Filipino folklore, Bakunawa is a massive sea serpent that lives deep in the oceans and emerges to devour the moon or sun, leading to these celestial phenomena.

The tale of Bakunawa has its roots in the pre-colonial beliefs and practices of the indigenous people of the Philippines. These communities had a profound connection with nature and the elements, often attributing natural phenomena to the actions of mythical beings, including Bakunawa.

The Significance of Bakunawa in Filipino Mythology

The story of Bakunawa carries deep symbolic significance within Filipino mythology. It reflects the awe and reverence that ancient Filipinos had for celestial bodies, such as the moon. The dragon’s role in eclipses underscores the belief that even the most powerful entities, like Bakunawa, are subject to the cosmic order and cycles.

Furthermore, Bakunawa’s legend serves as a reminder of the delicate balance between the spiritual and natural worlds. In this regard, the ancient Filipinos may have viewed Bakunawa as a representation of the forces that govern the cosmos, acting as a bridge between their world and the heavens.

The Tale of Bakunawa and the Seven Moons

The most iconic aspect of Bakunawa’s legend is its connection to the lunar eclipses. According to folklore, there were once seven moons in the night sky, each taking its turn to shine brilliantly. These moons were said to be the children of the great sea serpent, Bakunawa.

However, Bakunawa grew envious of the moons’ radiance and decided to devour them one by one. As the dragon swallowed each moon, darkness descended upon the world, causing fear and panic among the people. They would create noise and light, banging pots and pans, and even beating drums to frighten Bakunawa away during its lunar feasts.

The story of Bakunawa and the seven moons is a compelling metaphor for the cycle of life and death, emphasizing the inevitable passage of time and the ever-changing nature of existence.

The Modern Influence of Bakunawa

While many elements of traditional Filipino folklore have faded over the centuries, the legend of Bakunawa remains a prominent part of the country’s cultural identity. It has found a place not only in oral storytelling but also in various forms of contemporary art, including literature, music, and visual arts.

Filipino authors and poets have often drawn inspiration from the Bakunawa legend, weaving its themes of envy, celestial beauty, and the passage of time into their works. This powerful symbol continues to resonate with people of all ages, reminding them of the importance of respecting the natural world and the cosmos.

Bakunawa in Popular Culture

The enduring appeal of Bakunawa is evident in its presence in popular culture. The image of the moon-eating serpent has made appearances in Filipino comics, television shows, and movies. It is frequently used as a plot device or a symbol of impending calamity, adding an air of mystique and danger to the narrative.

Furthermore, the Bakunawa’s visage can be seen in various forms of Filipino art and craftsmanship. Whether it’s intricately carved wooden sculptures or vibrant paintings, this mythical creature continues to inspire artists to create captivating visual representations.

The Symbolism of Bakunawa

The legend of Bakunawa offers multiple layers of symbolism and interpretation. On one level, it represents the fear of the unknown and the natural phenomena that early Filipinos struggled to comprehend. The periodic appearance of lunar eclipses was a source of wonder and unease, and Bakunawa provided a story to help make sense of this celestial event.

Beyond its celestial symbolism, Bakunawa’s tale also delves into deeper themes of greed, envy, and the consequences of one’s actions. Its devouring of the moons serves as a warning about the destructive power of jealousy and the need to find harmony with the world around us.


The legend of Bakunawa, the moon-eating dragon, weaves together celestial wonder, ancient wisdom, and moral lessons. It remains a beloved and enduring part of Filipino culture, captivating generations with its timeless tale of cosmic balance and the ever-turning wheel of existence. As the Philippines continues to evolve and modernize, the story of Bakunawa serves as a poignant reminder of the enduring power of mythology and the rich cultural heritage of this remarkable archipelago.


Published Date

15 October, 2023


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