Quezon: Sirena

Located outside the poblacion of Atimonan in the province of Quezon, the sirena is a mermaid statue that is probably one of the most famous landmarks of the province.

Sitting on top of a huge boulder on the side of the Philippine highway, the sirena seems to be locked on an eternal gaze searching among the passing motorists the man that would hopefully release her from her current petrified state.
Can you spot the mermaid?
Being partly Atimonanin (thanks to my mom's bloodline), I spent most of my summer vacations visiting my cousins living in the said province. Because Atimonan is a coastal town, the beach was always our favorite destination. It was on one of those trips that I first caught a glimpse of the sirena.
Up close and personal
I went to investigate the sirena
That's our way of censorship

Being too young then, I was too amazed, intrigued and curious about its story. Throughout time, I would hear different versions of that story but it would always be that first version that I find worthy of sharing... This version came from my grandparents.

The Legend of the Sirena

A long time ago, just when Ate Monang was starting her small community, fishing was an essential livelihood that kept the said community surviving. 

One fateful night, a storm suddenly struck while its handful of fishermen were fishing at sea. Miraculously, the fishermen got back home safely except for one. This sent the town into grieving. Then after a week, he suddenly appeared by the beach like nothing happened. He talked about being saved by a mermaid but the townspeople didn't take his story seriously. 

According to those who believed his story, he was usually seen going to the rocky part of the beach before vanishing. He would also talk to his friends about a magical (some say golden) comb that he said gives him the power to call the mermaid simply by dipping it to the sea. 

However, as tragedy struck, the town was attacked by Moro pirates and the survivors scattered inland towards the safety of mountains. Nothing was heard of the young fisherman afterward. It was said that he perished protecting the town from the pirates, some say that he died of sickness in the mountains, others believed that he found new love in a town far from Atimonan. Years later, locals would claim to see a beautiful maiden sitting on top of a huge boulder by the sea looking at the mountains of Atimonan. However, when they would approach her, she would jump into the sea and vanish. 

Souvenir photo!
Presently, a statue was built on top of the boulder where this maiden was frequently seen. This reminds the new generation of the tragic love story of the sirena and the fisherman. However, years back, a very angry man who hated the world particularly the idea of LOVE took out his gun and blew the head of the sirena statue. It was reconstructed but its original beauty was not restored. Looking at it closely, you would notice that the head is smaller than it's now seemingly muscular body.
Nope I'm not the one she's waiting for

Overall, the sirena and its folklore would always be a part of Atimonan's identity. You could probably compare it to the Lion's Head of Baguio City. 

Getting there:

From Manila, Pasay, or Alabang ride a bus going to Lucena's Grand Terminal. Transfer to a bus going to Gumaca and tell the conductor to drop you off at Atimonan. You can ride a tricycle from there that would bring you to the sirena and other parts of the town.

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