When the world first began there was no land, but only the sea and the sky, and between them was a kite. One day the bird,
which had nowhere to light, grew tired of flying about, so she stirred up the sea until it threw its waters against the sky.
The sky, in order to restrain the sea, showered upon it many islands until it could no longer rise, but ran back and forth.
Then the sky ordered the kite to light on one of the islands to build her nest, and to leave the sea and the sky in peace.
Now at this time the land breeze and the sea breeze were married, and they had a child, which was a bamboo. One day when
this bamboo was floating about on the water, it struck the feet of the kite, which was on the beach. The bird, angry that
anything should strike it, pecked at the bamboo, and out of one section came a man and from the other a woman.
Then the earthquake called on all the birds and fish to see what should be done with these two, and it was decided that
they should marry. Many children were born to the couple, and from them came all the different races of people.
After a while the parents grew very tired of having so many idle and useless children around, and they wished to be rid
of them, but they knew of no place to send them to. Time went on and the children became so numerous that the parents enjoyed
no peace. One day, in desperation, the father seized a stick and began beating them on all sides.
This so frightened the children that they fled in different directions, seeking hidden rooms in the house - some concealed
themselves in the walls, some ran outside, while others hid in the fireplace, and several fled to the sea.
Now it happened that those who went into the hidden rooms of the house later became the chiefs of the Islands; and those
who concealed themselves in the walls became slaves. Those who ran outside were free men; and those who hid in the fireplace
became Negroes; while those who fled to the sea were gone many years, and when their children came back they were the white
The Virtue of the Coconut
One day a man took his blowgun and his dog and went to the forest to hunt. As he was making his way through the thick woods
he chanced upon a young coconut tree growing in the ground.
It was the first tree of this kind that he had ever seen, and it seemed so peculiar to him that he stopped to look at
When he had gone some distance farther, a noisy bird in a tree attracted his attention, and he shot it with his blowgun.
By and by he took aim at a large monkey, which mocked him from another treetop, and that, too, fell dead at his feet.
Then he heard his dog barking furiously in the distant bushes, and hastening to it he found it biting a wild pig. After
a hard struggle he killed the pig, and then, feeling satisfied with his success, he took the three animals on his back and
returned to the little plant.
"I have decided to take you home with me, little plant," he said, "for I like you and you may be of some
use to me."
He dug up the plant very carefully and started home, but he had not gone far when he noticed that the leaves had begun
to wilt, and he did not know what to do, since he had no water. Finally, in despair, he cut the throat of the bird and sprinkled
the blood on the coconut. No sooner had he done this than the plant began to revive, and he continued his journey.
Before he had gone far, however, the leaves again began to wilt, and this time he revived it with the blood of the monkey.
Then he hastened on, but a third time the leaves wilted, and he was compelled to stop and revive it with the blood of the
pig. This was his last animal, so he made all the haste possible to reach home before his plant died. The coconut began to
wilt again before he reached his house, but when he planted it in the ground, it quickly revived, and grew into a tall tree.
This hunter was the first man to take the liquor called tuba from the coconut tree, and he and his friends began to drink.
After they had become very fond of it, the hunter said to his friends:
"The coconut tree is like the three animals whose blood gave it life when it would have died. The man who drinks
three or four cups of tuba becomes like the noisy bird that I shot with my blowgun. One who drinks more than three or four
cups becomes like the big monkey that acts silly; and one who becomes drunk is like the pig that sleeps even in a mud-hole."
During my long bus-rides to and from high school when I was younger, I noticed that some bus drivers would habitually spit
out into the street. Some even would stop the entire bus ride for a quick minute to relieve themselves right on the bus stop!
It was quite a sight. The bus driver would board the bus again, while adjusting the large shiny pistol tucked beside his shiny
belt buckle. I thought these were peculiar habits (and entertaining I might add) but now that I'm older, I think I know the
reasons behind them.
After his visit with Manolo, Jun knew of another friend that he thought he could stop on his way to Kanumantag to deliver
his bottles of Listerine. He looked up at the sun and towards the road to realize he could proceed to Enting's nipa house.
Enting was an old friend he had known since he was twenty.
"Enting, Enting, this is your friend Jun. May I stay in your house tonight?" He was let in and led into the
only room in Enting's house. He noticed that like at Manolo's house, there were many people. The radio and T.V. volumes were
turned up quite loudly and the smell of strong vinegar and spirits could be smelled from across the room. Jun quickly realized
that he had stumbled into mortuary wake.
"Our old friend Bayong had passed away this afternoon. We want to make sure his body is cleansed so the busaw do
not come to get him." Enting explained. "The busaw had already claimed the corpse of Merced, Bayong's deceased wife.
Bayong had a heart attack when he found out his deceased wife's body was missing."
In the corner of the living room while some people were washing Bayong's body, Jun pondered how to help his friend deal
with the busaw . As he remembered it, the busaw was a ghoul who was also a corpse thief. An aswang who looked and behaved
like ordinary human beings by day, it listened for sounds of death in the evenings, and dwelled in large trees near cemeteries.
It had pointed teeth, hooked nails and a long tongue. It took banana tree trunks to replace the dead as it stole the corpses
out of their coffins. Then, spiriting the corpse off after first turning it into a pig, the busaw would feast on it and even
try to feed it to their human neighbours during the day in order to turn them into ghouls like itself.
To ward the busaw off, the corpse had to be washed completely with vinegar and strong-smelling herbs. Sharp or shiny metal
weapons had to be dangled between the slots in a nipa house's bamboo floor. The busaw are also warded off by strong noise
and sound, such as those that come from the radio or T.V., or from the playing of card games, or the feeding of large number
of wake guests. The busaw also despised salt in all its forms, in food, sweat, spit or even urine.
"Is there anything I can do to help?" Jun asked his friend Enting. "Make some more noise with our folk
here. Let's drink distilled coconut juice, play Pusoy (poker) and relieve yourself wherever you can. That should ward them
off. Long enough, they may just go to another barrio to feed off some other corpse, but at least we'll be rid of them."
"I have some extra vinegar. Here, sprinkle some of this over Bayong's grave for good measure," Jun insisted.
Jun stayed another night before he proceeded on his journey to deliver the Listerine. Jun, Enting and Enting's folk was finally
able to bury Bayong under and close to Enting's house. They reasoned that they could watch over the grave and that the loud
radio, vinegar and shiny metal weapons would make the busaw leave the Bayong alone.
On Jun's sendoff, Enting's folk thanked him with some white chicken, rice and water to bring with him on his journey.
They had also advised Jun to periodically spit and relieve himself along his path to Kanumantag, lest the busaw gets hungry
enough to try and injure him so he dies a slow death and be eaten.
The Monkeys and the Turtle
A Monkey, looking very sad and dejected, was walking along the bank of the river one day when he met a turtle.
"How are you?" asked the turtle, noticing that he looked sad.
The monkey replied, "Oh, my friend, I am very hungry. The squash of Mr. Farmer were all taken by the other monkeys,
and now I am about to die from want of food."
"Do not be discouraged," said the turtle; "take a bob and follow me and we will steal some banana plants."
So they walked along together until they found some nice plants which they dug up, and then they looked for a place to
set them. Finally the monkey climbed a tree and planted his in it, but as the turtle could not climb he dug a hole in the
ground and set his there.
When their work was finished they went away, planning what they should do with their crop. The monkey said:
"When my tree bears fruit, I shall sell it and have a great deal of money."
And the turtle said: "When my tree bears fruit, I shall sell it and buy three varas of cloth to wear in place of
this cracked shell."
A few weeks later they went back to the place to see their plants and found that that of the monkey was dead, for its
roots had had no soil in the tree, but that of the turtle was tall and bearing fruit.
"I will climb to the top so that we can get the fruit," said the monkey. And he sprang up the tree, leaving
the poor turtle on the ground alone.
"Please give me some to eat," called the turtle, but the monkey threw him only a green one and ate all the ripe
When he had eaten all the good bananas, the monkey stretched his arms around the tree and went to sleep. The turtle, seeing
this, was very angry and considered how he might punish the thief. Having decided on a scheme, he gathered some sharp bamboo
which he all around under the tree, and then he exclaimed:
Crocodile is coming! Crocodile is coming!"
The monkey was so startled at the cry that he fell upon the sharp bamboo and was killed.
Then the turtle cut the dead monkey into pieces, put on it, and dried it in the sun. The next day, he went to the mountains
and sold his meat to other monkeys who gladly gave him squash in return. As he was leaving them he called back:
"Lazy fellows, you are now eating your own body; you are now eating your own body."
Then the monkeys ran and caught him and carried to their own home.
Let us take a hatchet," said one old monkey, "and cut him into very small pieces."
But the turtle laughed and said: "That is just what I like. I have been struck with a hatchet many times. Do you
not see the black scars on my shell?"
Then one of the other monkeys said: "Let us throw him into the water."
At this the turtle cried and begged them to spare his life, but they paid no heed to his pleadings and threw him into
the water. He sank to the bottom, but very soon came up with a lobster. The monkeys were greatly surprised at this and begged
him to tell them how to catch lobsters.
"I tied one end of a string around my waist," said the turtle. "To the other end of the string I tied a
stone so that I would sink."
The monkeys immediately tied strings around themselves as the turtle said, and when all was ready they plunged into the
water never to come up again.
And to this day monkeys do not like to eat meat, because they remember the ancient story.