In the town of Tayabas, the prettiest was Ilang. She was adored by suitors who promised her all the comforts of life but she gave her heart to a poor farmer named Edo.
Ilang’s parents did not like Edo. They did not want their beautiful daughter to marry a poor farmer and so they forbade her to see Edo. They told her to choose a husband among her rich suitors.
Ilang and Edo devised a way to see each other. They secretly met at the edge of the forest when Ilang fetched water from the stream. At these meetings, they always vowed to love each other come what may.
At home, Ilang remained silent whenever her parents talked about her wealthy suitors. Her silence made her father suspicious. Perhaps she still loved Edo? One day, her father followed her when she went to fetch water. He saw Edo waiting near the stream.
That was the last time Ilang and Edo saw each other. From that day on, Ilang’s parents forbade her to leave the house. Ilang felt very lonely and dejected. She refused to eat and became sick. She would rather die than marry one of her rich suitors.
She thought only of Edo as she got weaker and weaker. Before she died, she begged her parents to bury her at the edge of the forest near the stream. She wanted to rest in the place where she and Edo met.
Edo tended her grave everyday. He never married and always yearned for Ilang. Then one day he saw a little plant growing in her grave. He immediately knew it was Ilang’s spirit.
Edo turned his love to the plant until it grew into a tall and graceful tree. Each day Edo caressed and talked to the tree. Oh, how happy he was visiting Ilang’s grave and the tree.
One morning, the people woke up to the scent of perfume. It came from the edge of the forest near the stream. They went to look for the source of the scent and found the strange leaflike blossoms of the tree. Then, they noticed Edo crumpled at the foot of the tree and crying, “Ilang, Ilang, Ilang …”
Edo died that morning. The people remembered his last words and from then on called the tree and its fragrant flowers ilang-ilang.