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Delúl, one of two limestone ridges in the middle of Airai State, is now being quarried.


There are three hills in Airai State whose origins lie in stories told by the chiefs of Airai Village.

The first of these concerns two limestone ridges found within the volcanic regions of Babeldaob in Airai State. This story is told by Rurecherudel with translation by Johnson:



"Medechiibelau, at one time, came with his friends, the gods, to take their taro, their baked taro, called delúl. Delúl is to cook something in open fire. No water, just exposed to the fire. And the gods then picked up the taro, the baskets of delúl, and were going all the way to Ngerechelong.

"Ngerechelong is the northern tip of Babeldaob, where there is Bairulechau. Bairulechau is now one of the historical sites in Palau where you see huge rock pillars. These were supposed to have been the posts for the major bai for the gods, called Bairulechau. It's a famous historical site in Palau."



Stone pillars at Bairulechau. Image from the Trust Territory of the Pacific Archives.


Food Basket

Uloik, a food-carrying basket. Belau National Museum photograph.


"And while they were the leaving the village of Airai, Medechiibelau felt a little saddened by the fact that the feast food is being carried out of his village to Ngerechelong., so he shed some tears to express some sadness. The gods realized that he was unhappy about the fact that the Airai feast food was being taken to a different village.

"So they dropped off one basket right on the hill and it turned into a limestone ridge, shaped like a basket. It's called Ngellangel. The word langel means ‘crying,’ so Ngellangel is ‘the land where he cried.’ Now there's a limestone ridge that sticks out of the ground as you go up the hill, called Ngellangel."



"As they kept going toward where the airport is now, on their way to Ngerechelong., Medechiibelau wanted to keep the entire feast food in his village. Now the gods were working at night. They had to go to Ngerechelong. at night. So Medechiibelau came next to a hill named Merrós-el-Bersóech. Merrós is 'crowing,' bersóech is 'snake.' It's a hill known as ‘the crowing snake’ because there was a snake there. And Medechiibelau, seeing the snake, told him to crow like a rooster. So the snake crowed, and the gods thought it was day break, so they had to drop the basket.

"So the second basket of baked taro is at the quarry site and that land is known as Belúl. So we have the Ngellangel, the place where he cried and the second place called Delúl, the the basket of baked taro. And the hill where the snake was found is today known as Merrós-el-Bersóech, the Crowing Snake. That's the story of Medechiibelau and how those two limestone outcroppings exist in the middle of this volcanic island."



Ngellangel, the first of the two "baskets."




"You see that quarry?" Johnson adds. "We were opposed to quarrying it. That was one of two limestone ridges in the middle of Babeldaob. They usually exist in the ocean. And that is supposed to be Medechiibelau’s basket of taro. It’s privately owned, but it’s a historical landmark.

"After they started demolishing it, people began to die, the people who were doing it, so one of the persons that was responsible for it offered appeasement money, trying to deter the curse. They got really nervous, because there was a series of deaths. Which may have been coincidences, but you know how the mind works."



Tie Beam in the Bairairrai, depicting the tale of Echo.


The Story of Echo is told by Rechuld (Number Four chief), and translated by Johnson:


"A certain chief was going to host a feast, so he requested a group of young men from the village of Ngermid in Koror, to go fish for the feast. And they were able to catch only two things: one was a turtle, and the other was a mermaid—half fish and half human—which we call Echo. When you speak, it imitates you, like a parrot."


The fishermen depart.


The fisherman catch a turtle and an "echo" (mermaid).


"So they were coming in their canoe towards Airai Village, the fishermen, and they came through the opening near Omuchel, and while there the turtle and this fish were very quiet inside the canoe. So the older person told the young man, ‘could you please open the hold of the canoe and check to see if the turtle is still there?’"


"And this fish called Echo overheard what they said, so Echo broke out of the hold and jumped into the Rock Islands and began to repeat whatever was said. That’s why today if you go to the Rock Islands and scream, then they scream right back at you. It explains the story of Echo. So you can see the Echo breaking through the hole and jumping to the rock islands. And these were made a long long time ago."


Echo jumps out of the hold and escapes to the Rock Islands.




“They took this turtle to the home of this chief that ordered it. And they began to prepare it for the great feast. He invited the visitors, all the chiefs of Palau. So this person, this chief that lives up on the hill, starts cooking the turtle for the chiefs, and when he was supposed to serve the meat, they opened the pot and saw the eyes were still open."


They took the turtle to the home of the chief.



"So they got nervous and put the lid on, until the chief from Ngerechelong. went there and looked in the pot, and the turtle spoke. It said ‘don’t be afraid, my eyes are open—they are not eyes, but a kind of Palauan money’—the round ones—‘please take them.’


"The chief from Ngerechelong was able to take these pieces of Palauan money, after which the turtle said, ‘I am cooked now, you can serve up.’

"They finished the meal and the chief from Ngerechelong, on the way home, he dropped the head somewhere up on the hillside, so it’s now called Ongebítel el Chelong (‘trash-discarding place of Ngerechelong.’). And he took the Palauan money."


Approximate locations of the hills discussed on this page.



"So from now on, even today, when the chiefs of Palau get together, the chief of Ngerechelong has the duty, the privilege, of serving."


Medechiibelau has more stories of ways in which he fooled the gods.



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