continue reading How Salay got its Name…

Version 2

    Another version speaks of the name Salilang and her necklace. Salilang, a very determined lady used to practice bow and arrow without missing a day. Within her tribe, there were good marksmen but so far nobody had try hitting the bull’s eye. With this, she asked permission to try. Some men cheered, others were openly amused and still others were angry, expectantly. When Salilang round her bow and arrow, they got ready to break into loud guffaws. They were surprised when Salilang hit the bull’s eye. The deafening applause embarrassed her opponents further until they slowly leave the place. As a reward, the datu of the tribe awarded Salilang a necklace. She was so happy that she could hardly speak. From that time on she never took off the necklace.

    Salilang was truly a child of nature. She loved to race with the deer, to tease the wild boar, or frolic with the fishes in the river. One day while she was swimming, she suddenly noticed that the necklace was missing. Alarmed, she dive and dive to look for it. When some men and women passed by, she requested them to help her. The men dived with her and the women tried to help by looking around the river bank. 

    They did not notice that a group of white men were approaching. The strangers asked the busy woman about the name of the place. The woman did not understand. They thought that the strangers were asking what they are doing, so they answered they were looking for the necklace “Silay”. The strangers thought they were answered correctly, so they repeated “Salay” because they could not say “Silay”. They listed the name of the place as Salay.

silay necklace

An illustration of a necklace made from the seeds of Bansilay tree.

Version 3

    Aside from agricultural crops, natives long before were also oriented to the sea as their pattern of subsistence. There was a time that natives from the upland went to the shore line for them to fish and look for shell due to its abundance in the place. When they passed along the area of Casulog River, there was a young lady from the group who felt uneasiness when she found out that her necklace’s missing. The necklace (also known as silay) was very special to her. In their search for the necklace, they happened to meet a group of white men. These white men approached and asked the natives for the name of the place. Given that the natives could not understand the language, except their own, thought that the question referred to what were they looking, which was silay. So they answered, “Silay!” The Spaniards then marked the place in his map as Salay mistakenly substituted A for I. From then on the area was officially known as Salay.

silay necklace 2

An illustration of a necklace made of shell/sigay.

Version 4

     In the oral tradition of the Higaunon, they believed that since time immemorial the term Salay already subsisted even before the coming of the Spaniards and the migration of the dumagats in their place. The Higaunon considered that the name Salay was originally derived from the word Bansilay, a tree that is endemic to the place until today. Cratoxylum sumatranum is a species of flowering plant in the Hypericaceae family which is known among the Binukid speakers as Bansilay or Kansilay.

bansilay tree

Bansilay tree at Barangay Alipuaton.

Seeds of bansilay

Seeds of bansilay.


Accordingly, the tree may grow up to 51 meters tall and 80 centimeters diameter at breast height, with cracked and fissured . The stems produce whitish-yellowish . The leaves have an opposite arrangement, are simple, elliptic and a glossy rich green. Its flowers are 5-parted and clustered on terminal panicles. They are small (approximately 8mm in diameter), reddish with white linings around the petals. The fruits, which appear in July, are approximately 8mm long, yellow-brown-black capsules, filled with many small winged seeds.

What made this tree more special among the Higaunon was that, its seeds were used and utilized in making necklace as customary practice in their community. Since it was made out of the seeds of the Bansilay tree, the necklace was known as silay or salay. This would mean to say that for the Higaunon being the original settlers of the place, Salay is a necklace.