This story was told to me by the nanny that I had when I was little, I did this by memory and by also having other people tell it to me and reading up on it. Also a lot, mainly the dialogue, was taken from "Philippine Folk Literature: The Myths" compiled and edited by Damiana L. Eugenio, published by the University of the Philippines Press, copyright 1993, to fill in the gaps for the things that I could not remember.
The Legend of "Landas de Diablo"
In Malanday, Marikina, in Central Luzon, where rice fields flourish, there is a straight path of stone leading from the side of the road to the center of a rice field where I house once stood. The denizens call it "Landas de Diablo" and regard it with superstitious fear. There is a story behind the stone path, which is the reason for their fear. It is a tale involving two young lovers and the Devil himself.
A long time ago, there was a beautiful girl named Marikita, who lived in the middle of a rice field. Although her home was located far from the main road, many suiters would brave the narrow bridges of land marking the rice paddies just to see her and sigh. She was lovely. Every young man in the village was besotted with her – even Kabanalan, the handsome heir to an enormous fortune.
At the first glance of Marikita, Kabanalan would say that she was worth more than any priceless jewel in his father’s home. He never wanted to have anything in his possession as badly as he did Marikita. He was gentle and kind to her and immediately won her attention. He promised Marikita that he would give her anything she wanted if she marry.
Marikita really liked the young man, even without his promises, and she felt it safe to joke with him.
She said, "If you would give me anything, I have a simple favor to ask: make me a stone path that would span the length of the rice paddies that separate my father’s humble hut from the main road. I tire of the land bridges. But you must make this path before the night is over, because tomorrow is Sunday and I do not want my feet to hurt one more time, before they reach the church!"
"Make me that bridge by tomorrow, and tomorrow we shall be married."
Taken in by her charm, Kabanalan promised her that he would build this impossibility, even if he had to do it with his own two hands! Marikita only laughed. She liked the young man. But Kabanalan took her favor seriously. When he and Marikita parted, a shadow fell across his face.
"I know that even with all my wealth I could not fulfill her wish in time," he thought sadly. "I would rather kill myself than disappoint!"
In despair he stumbled into a grove where a solitary mango tree stood, and from the deep shade a handsome stranger emerged.
"I see how heavy your heart weighs by the look in your eyes," the stranger said mysteriously. "Tell me what is wrong, perhaps I can help."
Kabanalan shook his head.
"No. No one can help." He sighed forlornly. "I had promised the most beautiful woman in the world an impossible wish."
"What is that wish?" the stranger asked.
Kabanalan told him of the stone path above the rice paddies that Marikita had asked for, and to his surprise, the stranger laughed.
"Is that all!" he cried heartily. "I can do it. I can build that stone road for you overnight."
"Do not jest, I beg of you," Kabanalan said stonily. "She will marry me if I will only grant her this one wish."
"I have no doubt of it," said the wry stranger. "I can build that stone road for you overnight."
Kabanalan was somehow convinced.
"If you would be so kind as to do this for me, I shall give you anything you ask for."
"Will you give me your soul?" the stranger demanded.
Kabanalan did not give it a second thought. "Yes, I will," he declared. "If only to please the fair Marikita."
The stranger brought out a piece of paper on which they wrote their contract. Afterward Kabanalan signed his name at the bottom of the page with his own blood.
The very next morning, Marikita was shocked! She walked out of her doorstep, and she saw a sturdy stone path leading to the main road, where a carriage and a handsome Kabanalan waited, ready to take her to church. Upon seeing his true love’s bewilderment shift into an astonished smile, his own features brightened. Marikita ran across the stone path toward him, arms outstretched. He was the happiest man on Earth! But as Marikita drew close, the mysterious stranger from the shadows of the lone grove appeared in a whirl of dust between her and her bridegroom. Everyone who saw him knew him at once. It was the Devil!
"I have come to claim prize!" he cried, and seized Kabanalan. With this prize in tow, the Devil disappeared. Marikita was left alone, staring after the void the stranger had left behind. There were witnesses, who had risen early for Mass, that had gathered on the main road near the end of the stone path which they knew had not been there the night before. They saw Marikita turn deathly pale as she came to realize what her lover had done for her. She stood still for a long time. Then when her friends from town tried to approach her, she turned and ran back into her house, and slammed the door shut. She let no one speak to her, and even her own parents could not come near her.
Marikita was found dead soon after that, floating in the river by which she and Kabanalan used to take long walks. It was said that she had killed herself, but no one was quite so sure.
"Landas de Diablo", the Devil’s Road, still stands, proof of this ancient story of a doomed love.