The legend starts with the time when there lived an accomplished but sad “datu” or chieftain. He had achieved a lot for his tribe at a young age but he seemed to be bored by it all. He didn’t find meaning in all his success. So he wondered what it was like to be in heaven. Perhaps, he thought, his satisfaction would be realized when he reached heaven. When? Why not right now? He told himself. So he planned to end his life then and there.
That day, he prayed to Bathala (God), saying: “I am getting more bored and fed up with life everyday. As to my accomplishments here on Earth, I find them increasingly meaningless. Please allow me to ascend to heaven earlier!” Before this, he had thought of saying “allow me to kill myself” but later re-worded it to something more tolerable to God. He waited for a reply. Suddenly a voice said: “But your time on earth is not yet over.”
The datu felt a little disappointed and left the palace. Then he went alone for walk around the forest. Suddenly an old man came up to him. Knowing the grievance in his heart, the old man, according to the legend, tried to cheer him up by saying,”It might surprise you to know, my Lord, that we can already find heaven on earth!”
With that remark, the legend says, he led the datu to a place where there grew a kind of plant that has a long, slim, and tall body, and long leaves that looked very much like a bamboo. It looked like a long purple tube.
The old man went on to say,”This is a heavenly plant. Its incredibly sweet stem will take you to heaven.” The datu started chewing its stem and found it indeed very sweet. According to the legend he really felt like heaven. He told himself, this sweet tube-plant was even sweeter than all his achievements combined. He examined the tube-plant and decided to call it a tube, or “tubo” in the vernacular.
The Philippine’s Legend about the sugarcane teaches us that things that really give meaning in life are the simple things.