Read Hero tales and drolls: Tale 49 of Filipino Popular Tales, free online book, by Dean S. Fansler, on ReadCentral.com.

Juan the fool

This story was narrated by Remedios Mendoza of Manila, but the story itself comes from the Tagalog province of Bulakan.

(NARRATOR’S note. This story was told to me by a student. He said that he first heard it in one of the informal gatherings which are very common in Bocawe, Bulakan, during the hot season. The young men often assemble at a little shop kept by a young woman, and there the story-teller of the barrio tells stories. This story of Juan was told at one of these gatherings by an old man about fifty years old.)

Juan is twenty years old. At this age he begins to become famous in his little barrio. He is short in stature. His eyes are neither bright nor dull: they are very black, and slowly roll in their sockets. His mouth is narrow. He has a double chin, and a short flat nose. His forehead is broad, and his lips are thick. His hair is black and straight. His body is round like a pumpkin, and his legs are short. He seems to be always tired. In spite of all these physical peculiarities, however, he is invited to every bayluhan and katapusan, because he is sure to bring with him laughter and merriment.

Juan lives in a poor barrio, which consists of a few poor nipa huts. It has a small chapel of stone, with a turret and bells. In the courtyard in front of the chapel is erected a cross. A few nipa cottages are scattered along the lonely streets of the barrio. There is a rivulet just outside the village. Its course is hidden and lost in a thick forest which extends to the foot of a mountain.

At the time the story opens Juan is eating his breakfast with his mother. She is an old widow, whose sole ambition is to establish Juan in a good social position. She is constantly advising her son, when there is any occasion to preach, to be on the lookout for a virtuous wife. She tells him that, since she is an old and experienced woman, he must follow her advice. Her advice is that a good wife is always quiet and tongue-tied, and does not go noisily about the house. As Juan is an obedient son, he soon determines to get him a good wife. After a short time Juan comes home to his mother, and says to her, “Mother, I have found the girl you will like, the one who shall be my wife. She is speechless and motionless. Her eyes are staring in just one place. Though I have watched her closely for about twelve hours, I have not observed the slightest motion in her lips and eyelids. She remained quiet in her bed, although there were many noisy people in the house.”

“And is that all?” says his mother.

“No, mother,” says Juan, “her hands were very cold. She was deaf, and she did not answer me. This fact makes her all the lovelier, and I am sure you will like her. There is only one thing you did not tell me, however.”

“I think,” says the mother, “that I advised you well.”

“Yes, I think so too,” says Juan. “The girl had a stinking waxy-like odor.”

“O Juan!” exclaims his mother, “I already suspected from your long description that you followed my instructions too literally. The girl you found is a dead one. Now, remember: those who stink are dead.”

“Thanks, mother,” says Juan quietly, “I will never forget that.”

A few days later, when Juan and his mother are eating their breakfast, Juan smells a stinking odor. He looks around the little room. As he does not see any one else there, he thinks that his mother is dead. Then, when his mother is taking her siesta, Juan says to himself, “Surely mother is dead.” He goes out quietly and digs a grave for her. Then he buries her in it, and mourns for her nine days. Now Juan is alone in the world.

One morning, when Juan is eating his breakfast by himself, he smells again a stinking odor. He looks around, and, as he does not see any one, he thinks that he himself is dead. There is nobody to bury him. So he goes to the river, takes five or six banana-trunks, and makes a raft of them. He lies down on the raft, and lets the current of the river carry him away. In three hours the current has carried him into the woods. While he is floating through the forest, all of a sudden he is called in a fierce voice by some one on shore. This man was the captain of a band of robbers. Juan does not stir in his place. The second shout is accompanied by a terrible oath. Juan opens his eyes. He sadly looks at the robbers, and tells them that he is a dead man. The robbers laugh; but when Juan insists on remaining on the river, the captain frightens Juan, and says that he will shoot if he does not get up. As Juan does not care for the taste of bullets, he goes to the bank of the river, still thinking that he is a walking dead body.

Juan goes with the robbers into the woods. Their house is in a deserted spot. The captain appoints Juan their housekeeper. He tells him to cook rice, but orders him to keep very still and quiet, for they may be caught by the Spanish soldiers (cazadores). Then the robbers go out on an expedition, and Juan is left alone in the house. He shuts the windows, and everything is quiet and undisturbed. He even tries to control his breathing for fear of the noise it may make. He cautiously takes an earthen pot and puts rice and water into it. Then he places the pot on the fire, and sits down near it. Everything is silent. But suddenly a murmuring sound seems to come from the pot. (The water is beginning to boil.) Soon the sound seems to be very loud. Juan thinks that the pot is saying, “Buluk ka.” This expression means, “You are decayed.” So Juan gets very angry. He whispers to the pot to stop; but the pot does not seem to hear him, for the murmuring sound becomes louder and louder. At last Juan is so exasperated, that he takes a piece of bamboo-bellows (ihip) and gives the pot a fatal blow. This puts an end to the pot, the rice, and the flames.

At noon the hungry robbers come home. They find Juan almost breathless in the darkest corner of the house, the pot broken, and the rice scattered over the floor. They ask Juan what is the matter. Juan says that the naughty pot was making too much noise, and was mocking him; and, as the captain bade him be careful about making a noise, he struck the pot and broke it into pieces. The captain cannot help smiling at Juan’s foolishness, and he tells Juan to prepare a lunch with anything he can find in the house.

The next day comes, and all the food is eaten. The captain gives Juan some money, and tells him to go to the market to buy some earthen pots and some crabs. When Juan reaches the barrio, he buys all the crabs he can find, and about two dozen large earthen pots. He next finds out that the pots are too bulky for him to carry, although they are not heavy. At last he thinks of a good way to carry them. He has the pots carried to one corner of the market, where he buys a long piece of rattan. He sharpens one end of the rattan and passes it through the bottoms of all the pots, so that they are now very easy to be carried. He slings them over his shoulder, and starts for home with the pots and the crabs. Soon he comes to a large, wide river with a very strong current. He sits down on the bank and wonders what is to be done. He remembers that crabs are good swimmers, so he decides to untie them and let them swim to the other side of the river. As he unties the crabs, he says, “Now, crabs, we have to cross this broad river. I know that you are good swimmers. I am a slow swimmer myself, and especially with these pots to carry. Please swim to the other side of the river as quickly as you can, for I cannot carry you. If you reach the other side before I do, you may go straight home, or wait for me.” With this warning, he releases the crabs one by one so that they may go in a straight line. He is very glad to see them swim so fast. Then with the help of a piece of bamboo, and after a long struggle, he himself reaches the opposite shore. He looks around for the crabs; but, seeing none, he says to himself, “Perhaps they have become tired of waiting for me and have gone straight home, as I ordered them to do. What a surprise for the captain!” Juan is very glad at the decision of the crabs, and he sets out for the robbers’ house, always hoping to overtake the rear of the long procession of crabs. He soon reaches home. He asks the robbers if the crabs have arrived. When Juan finds out that not one of the naughty crabs obeyed him, he blames himself for his quiet nature, and swears that he will never trust a crab again. The captain asks him about the pots. Juan tells him that they are all safe, and that the captain must thank him for his wit in solving the problem of how to carry two dozen large pots at the same time. All the robbers are eager to see what Juan’s scheme was. When they find out what Juan has done, and see the holes in the bottom of all the pots, they cannot help laughing. The captain, however, addresses Juan with all the epithets found in a common slang dictionary. The captain now decides never to let Juan stay in the house alone, and from that time on takes him with them on their expeditions.

Several days later the captain calls Juan one night, and tells him to get ready, for they are going to rob a certain house. They go through the forest, and soon come to a clearing, in the middle of which stands a large nipa house. While they are still in the thicket, the captain calls Juan to him, and says, “Juan, go into the silong of the house, and see if the people are awake. Now, remember, if you feel something hot, it is a man; but if it is cold, it is a bolo. Do you understand?” Juan answers, “Yes,” and obediently goes to the house, repeating to himself the orders of the captain. He cautiously goes under the house, and looks around. After a while something hot falls on his back. He quickly runs away, and begins to cry, “Tao, tao!” ("Man, man!”) All the robbers get frightened, so they run away too. After a few minutes they come together. Seeing that they are not pursued, the captain calls Juan, and says to him, “Juan, why did you fool us? Nobody is pursuing us.”

“Well,” says Juan, “I followed your orders. You said that if I felt something hot, it was a man; but if cold, it was a bolo. I went into the silong. I looked up. There was a faint light, and I saw a large mat outlined on the floor. As I was looking at it, a hot thing fell on my back. Then I ran away to warn you.”

“Let us see,” says the captain impatiently, “what tao that is which has fallen on your back.” One of the robbers lights a match. The robbers examine Juan’s back, and they see only a little lizard clinging to his worn-out camisa (loose, thin cotton coat). Some of the robbers get angry, and some laugh at Juan’s foolishness. The captain tells Juan that he may go away, for he is not worth anything. He also tells Juan not to tell anybody that he has been with them, for, if he does, they will kill him.

Juan leaves the band of robbers, and decides to live up in a tree, because he is all alone, he says. He takes a low bamboo table and goes up into a very large mango-tree. He chooses a well-hidden place, and there he ties his table firmly to the branches. He spends the day in the neighboring towns looking for food, but at night he comes back to the tree and sleeps there.

Early one morning Juan wakes up and hears faint whispers. He looks down, and sees two men talking very earnestly together. One is carrying a bag of money. Juan loosens his table and lets it fall on the men. It makes a loud crash, and they run away. Juan quickly climbs down the tree and makes off with the bag of money. He now decides to live in town. After he has found a barrio that suits him, he buys a house, a carabao, and a cart. He lives peacefully in his new house. Sometimes he works; but he spends most of his time sleeping, for he is a very lazy fellow.

One morning the capitan of the town sends a town crier around to announce an order to the people. The town crier says, “The capitan orders you all to sprinkle with water the street in front of your houses.” Juan takes a small cocoanut-shell full of water, and goes out and sprinkles the street. In the afternoon the capitan of the town goes about the streets to see if the people have obeyed his orders. He sees that everybody has obeyed him except Juan. He goes to Juan’s house, and asks him why he has not sprinkled the street; and Juan tells him what he has done. The capitan then tells him that he must use much water. As soon as the capitan has left, Juan begins to pour buckets of water on the street. But when the water all flows away, Juan thinks that his irrigation is not good enough: so he takes his cart and carabao, and with their help he digs a large ditch. All night long Juan works filling the ditch with water. The next morning, when the capitan sees the ditch, he becomes very angry, and summons Juan. Juan excuses himself by saying that the laws of the town are not stated clearly. So the capitan has to let Juan go.

When Sunday comes, Juan goes to church. In the pulpit the priest tells the people to put a little cross on their street doors. When Juan goes home, he takes a piece of tinting (the rib of a cocoanut-leaf) and makes a little cross about two inches high. When the priest makes his rounds, he does not see the cross, for it is so small. He asks Juan where his cross is. Juan shows him; and the priest tells him to make a large one, for it is too small, and the evil spirits will not be able to see it. Juan takes his bolo and cuts two long pieces of bamboo. This time his cross is so large, that the priest cannot see it, either. The priest becomes so angry at Juan’s stupidity, that he expels him from the town. Juan good-naturedly goes away. He sells his house, and with his cart and carabao he moves on to another town.

He settles in a barrio where the soil is red. Here he lives several weeks, but he is always longing to go back to his old home. He finally says to himself that he is going there in spite of the anger of the priest. He fills his cart with red earth, and hitches his carabao to it. He sits in the middle of his cart, and slowly drives to the town where he had lived before. As he is driving down the main street in the afternoon, whom should he meet but the priest himself! The priest cries, “Juan, so you are here again! Didn’t I tell you that you must never tread the soil of this town again? If you do not go away, I shall tell the capitan to imprison you.”

“Dear priest,” says Juan humbly, “before you accuse me, use your eyes. I am not treading on your soil. This earth which I have in my cart is my own.” The priest looks in the cart. By this time there are many people around them, and they too look in the cart. They laugh at Juan’s wit. The priest wants to laugh too; but he controls himself, for he is afraid that the people will not respect him any more if he laughs. So he angrily threatens Juan, and tells him to leave the town instantly. Poor Juan has nothing to do but go.

He sells his carabao and cart, and spends the money foolishly in the neighboring villages. Soon Juan is reduced to poverty again, so he decides to go back to his native town. There he finds everything changed: the houses are better, and the little chapel is prettier. He looks for relatives or friends, but he finds only his old grandmother, who lives by herself in the field. He goes to her and tells her the history of his family. The old woman recognizes him at last, and asks him if he is not the Juan who buried his mother. Juan answers, “Yes,” but excuses himself by saying that he only obediently followed his mother’s advice.

Juan now stays with his grandmother. Her hut, which is very small, is surrounded by a small garden of vegetables. Juan does nothing but eat and sleep. He soon develops the bad habit of throwing things out of the window. His grandmother tells him that he must throw them far away. One morning the old woman does not find Juan, and he does not appear until midnight. She asks him where he has been, and he tells her that he went to the other side of the mountain to throw away a banana-skin which was left on his plate. She tells him that he does not need to go so far, that he can throw the banana-skins behind the fence.

One day early in the morning the old woman leaves Juan in charge of the house, for she is going to town. She tells him to cook two small measures (chupas) of rice for her, for perhaps she will be very hungry when she gets home. Then she goes away quite happy, thinking that Juan understands her. As soon as she leaves, Juan thinks it is time to begin to cook. He is surprised to find only one measure in the earthen jar. He looks for the other one everywhere; but, as he cannot find it, he thinks his grandmother was mistaken when she told him to cook two measures of rice. So he takes his bolo, goes outside, cuts a piece of bamboo, and makes a wooden measure just like the other one. This takes him a long time; but when he has finished, he fills the two measures with dry rice, and puts them in the fire. While the measures are burning, the grandmother arrives. She calls Juan, and asks him if the rice is ready, for she is very hungry. Juan tells her that it is quite ready. The old woman sees that it is very bright in the house, and she fears that it is on fire. Juan says that it is the two measures burning. When the old woman sees what Juan has done, she becomes angry. However, she controls herself, and teaches Juan how to cook rice. Under the supervision of the old woman, Juan takes an earthen pot, cleans it, and puts rice into it. Then he puts water into the pot, and finally puts the pot on the fire. The old woman goes to rest, telling him to watch the rice. After a while she calls to Juan, and says,

“Did you cover the pot [tinungtungan mo na ang paliok]?”

“No, I did not,” says Juan.

“Cover the pot, then [tungtungan mo]!” she cries.

“That is impossible,” says Juan.

“Why impossible?” cries the old woman. “The rice will have a smoky taste if you don’t.”

“All right,” says Juan, getting up. He goes to the fireplace and thinks for a little while. Then he jumps up to the rafters of the ceiling, which are but two feet above his head. He goes just above the pot, adjusts his feet very well, and then lets himself fall. The pot is broken to pieces. The old woman wakes up at the noise of the crash, and says, “What is that, Juan? Is the rice cooked?”

“Why do you ask me that?” says Juan impatiently. “You told me to step on the pot, and now you ask me if the rice is cooked!”

She goes out to the kitchen; and when she sees her broken pot, the old woman becomes truly angry. She drives Juan from the house, telling him that he cannot live with her any more because he is too troublesome.

Juan now goes off, and wanders from town to town. Sometimes he is obliged to work in order to get anything to eat. Finally he comes to a large town where the people wear shoes and carry umbrellas. He becomes enchanted with the shoes and umbrellas: so he works hard, and saves enough money to buy both. But he surprises every one who sees him; for he carries his shoes dangling at his belt, and his umbrella closed under his arm. Some of the more curious fellows follow after him. They see that, although it rains or the sun is very hot, Juan never opens his umbrella except when he sits to rest under a tree; and also that he never puts his shoes on when he is on dry land, but only when he is crossing a river. At last they ask him why he does such foolish things. Juan says, “Don’t you know that there are many worms and loose branches in a tree? If, for example, a snake should fall down, well, it would hit my umbrella. As for the shoes, it is better for one to wear his shoes when he crosses a river, for there he cannot see the ground.” The people leave him alone; but some persons think he is wise, and imitate his example.

Juan goes on with his travels. At last he falls in love. He serves the girl’s parents, and becomes their cook. He always keeps the best parts of the chicken for the girl and himself, and gives only the bones to the parents. They ask him why he gives them the worst parts. Juan replies, “I do that because you are our supporters. The bones, compared with a house, are the foundation and framework.” The parents find Juan’s reasoning so good, that they at once marry their daughter to him. After this Juan is a good and sensible fellow, and does not do foolish things any more.

This long, loosely-constructed droll is not of any fixed length, according to the narrator; adventures are added or omitted at the caprice of the story-teller. It would be useless to attempt to parallel the tale as a whole, because of the very nature of its composition. The separate incidents, however, we may examine, pointing out analogues already in print, and citing others from my own manuscript collection.

(1) “If it smells bad, it’s dead.” This joke is common among the Tagalogs and Pampangans, and forms the basis of many of their comical stories. As an example I will give the opening of a story entitled “Ricardo and his Adventures” narrated by Paulo Macasaet, a Tagalog from Batangas:

Ricardo and his Adventures.

Once there was a widow who had a son named Ricardo. One day the mother said to the boy, “Ricardo, I want you to go to school, so that you may learn something about our religion.” Ricardo was willing enough, so he took his Catechism and set out. Instead of going to the school, however, he went to a neighboring pond and listened to the merry croaking of the frogs. When eleven o’clock came, he went home and told his mother about the real school. The poor woman was very happy, thinking that her son was spending his time wisely. Ricardo took great delight in joining the chorus of the frogs, for his mother gave him food as a reward for his diligence.

One morning the woman asked her son to read his lesson. The boy opened his Catechism and croaked very loudly. His mother was glad when she heard that her son could croak so well, because she thought that that was the way to read the book.

As Ricardo was playing with his schoolmates one day, he saw a dead cat. It smelled very bad, so he left the pond and went home. He said, “Mother, I saw a cat lying near our school. It had a very bad odor.” The mother said, “My son, remember this: whenever a body smells bad, you may be sure that it is dead.” Ricardo repeated the words of his mother many times to himself, and learned them by heart.

One day, when he was on his way to the pond, Ricardo smelled something bad. He looked in every direction, but he could not find anybody. So he said, “Since I cannot find any dead body here, I must be the one who is dead.” He lay down on the ground, and said, “Ricardo is dead! I cannot eat any more. O how unhappy I am!” While he was lying there, he saw a ripe guava above his head. He exclaimed, “Delicious fruit, you are very fortunate! If I were alive, I would eat you.” He wished to get the fruit, but he dared not do so. After a while, when he could no longer smell the stink, he got up and went home, and told his mother his story.

[As the rest of the story is not droll, and is in no way connected with our present tale, it may be given in abstract.]

One day Ricardo learned from his mother how his father had been killed by a giant who had afterwards carried away his sister. The boy set out in search of the giant. An old man along the way, whom he treated kindly, gave him two bottles of magic water, one that would make invulnerable the man who should drink it, another that would take away all the strength of him on whose head it should be poured. Later a leprous old woman to whom he gave some food presented him with a magic saddle that would carry him through the air. So equipped, he soon arrived at the cave of the giant. He succeeded in killing that seven-headed monster and in freeing his sister and many other prisoners. Ten barrels of money were found in the cave. Of these, Ricardo took two; the rest he gave to the prisoners he had freed. Later Ricardo married a beautiful woman named Lucia.

(2) Destruction of the singing rice-pot. Another Tagalog form of this incident, likewise connected with Juan’s experiences while cook for a band of robbers, was collected from Singalong, Manila. It was related by Crisanto H. Aragon, and runs as follows:

Juan and the Robbers.

Once there was a young man named Juan, who left his parents to seek his fortune. While he was wandering in the mountains, he reached the cave of some robbers. Juan decided to be a robber, and asked the chief to admit him. The chief accepted Juan.

One night Juan was left alone in the cave, for his companions had gone to town to make a raid. Before leaving, the chief said, “Juan, you will stay here and take care of our property. If you hear a noise, take your bolo and kill whoever makes that noise, for he is our enemy. Cook some rice, so that when we return we may have something to eat.”

While Juan was cooking the rice, to his great surprise he heard a noise. Faithful to the command that had been laid upon him, Juan took his bolo and walked around the cave to see where the noise came from. When he reached the kitchen, he noticed that the noise was louder. After a careful observation, he concluded that it was coming from the rice-pot. “The enemies must be here,” said Juan, pointing to the rice-pot; and, without a moment’s hesitation or fear, Juan smashed the pot into a thousand pieces. The noise stopped at once, and Juan was satisfied.

When the robbers came home and asked Juan for rice, he told them what had happened. The chief realized that the fault was his, so he only laughed at Juan; but, from that time on, Juan was never allowed to stay alone in the cave.

One night the robbers decided to rob the captain of the Municipal Police in a town near by. When they reached the captain’s house, they saw that it was empty: so they took everything they could find. Juan entered the captain’s bedroom, but, instead of searching for valuables, he took the captain’s uniform and put it on. Then Juan went out to join his companions. But as soon as the robbers saw the uniformed man, they thought it was the captain, and ran away as fast as their legs would carry them. Juan ran too, for he thought that the captain must be after them. The robbers were so frightened, that they separated; but Juan decided to follow the chief. Finally the chief became so tired, that he made up his mind to stop and fight his pursuer; but when Juan came up, the chief recognized him, and it was only then that both of them felt that they had gotten rid of the real captain.

For a Santal story of a stupid hero joining a band of thieves, see A. Campbell, “Jhorea and Jhore,” p-12; Bompas, .

(3) Adventure with the crabs. Compare “The Adventures of Juan” (JAFL 20 : 106), in which Juan’s mother sends her foolish son to town to buy meat to eat with the boiled rice. He buys a live crab, which he sets down in the road and tells to go to his mother to be cooked for dinner. The crab promises, but, as soon as Juan’s back is turned, runs in another direction. Clearly our version of the incident is superior to this.

(4) Juan as a thief. With this incident may be compared another Tagalog story, narrated by Adolfo Scheerer. It is entitled

The Adventure of two Robbers.

There were once two robbers, who, hearing of the trip that a certain family was about to make, decided to rob them during the night. They were encouraged in their purpose by the thought that everything in the house would be in a state of great confusion. During the night the two thieves climbed a tree which grew close by a window of this house. From this place they could easily observe what the people inside were doing. As they sat there waiting, they saw two servants packing something which seemed to be very heavy. They believed that the bundle contained much money, so they decided to steal it.

In the dead of night one of the robbers went up into the house, took the bundle, and passed it to his companion below. When he joined the other, they took to their heels, carrying the bundle between them on their shoulders. When they had gone some way, the one in the rear began to get curious as to what they were carrying, so he cut an opening in the mat that was wrapped around the contents. To his great surprise, he noticed a human toe stick out; and he at once shouted, “Man, man, man!” The one in front took this shout as a warning that some one was chasing them, so he ran faster. The other only continued to shout, “Man, man!” but his companion paid no attention to him. Finally his foot caught in the root of a tree, and he fell down. When he understood the situation, the two villains left the bundle and ran away.

(5) Frightening robbers under tree. This incident is widespread, and has made its way into many Maerchen cycles. It is distinctly comic in its nature. For references to its occurrence, see Koehler-Bolte, 99 and 341 (sub “Herabwerfen der Thuer"); Crane, 380, note 19; Cosquin, I : 243 f.; and especially Bolte-Polivka, I : 521-525 (on Grimm, N, episode F.

(6) Walking on his own soil. This trick of Juan’s we have already met with in “King Tasio,” N (b).

(7) Cooking rice-measures. Juan’s misunderstanding about cooking two measures of rice is almost exactly paralleled in a Santal story in Bompas, No. I. The story is entitled “Bajun and Jhore,” and this is the first of a series of noodle-like incidents:

Once upon a time there were two brothers named Bajun and Jhore. Bajun was married, and one day his wife fell ill of fever. So, as he was going ploughing, Bajun told Jhore to stay at home and cook the dinner, and he bade him put into the pot three measures of rice. Jhore staid at home, and filled the pot with water and put it on to boil; then he went to look for rice-measures. There was only one in the house; and Jhore thought, “My brother told me to put in three measures, and if I only put in one, I shall get into trouble.” So he went to a neighbor’s house and borrowed two more measures, and put them into the pot, and left them to boil. At noon Bajun came back from ploughing, and found Jhore stirring the pot, and asked him whether the rice was ready. Jhore made no answer: so Bajun took the spoon from him, saying, “Let me feel how it is getting on!” but when he stirred with the spoon, he heard a rattling noise; and when he looked into the pot, he found no rice, but only three wooden measures floating about. Then he turned and abused Jhore for his folly; but Jhore said, “You yourself told me to put in three measures, and I have done so.” So Bajun had to set to work and cook the rice himself, and got his dinner very late.

This ludicrous mistake suggests a not dissimilar droll of the Tinguian (Cole, 198, N:

A man went to the other town. When he got there, the people were eating bamboo sprouts (labon). He asked them what they ate, and they said pangaldanen (the bamboo ladder is called aldan). He went home and had nothing to eat but rice: so he cut his ladder into small pieces, and cooked all day, but the bamboo was still very hard. He could not wait longer, so he called his friends, and asked why he could not make it like the people had in the other town. Then his friends laughed and told him his mistake.

For an almost identical Santal story, see Bompas, No. CXXIV, “The Fool and his Dinner.”

(8) The last two episodes wearing of shoes only when crossing rivers and raising umbrella under tree, and the division of the fowl we have discussed in the notes to N (see p-64, , ). Add to the bibliography given there, Bompas, No. CXXVIII, “The Father-in-law’s Visit,” which contains a close parallel to the first episode.

In conclusion I will give two other Filipino noodle stories, which, while not variants of any of those given above, have the same combination of stupidity and success as that found in “Juan the Fool.” The first is an Ilocano story narrated by Presentación Bersamin of Bangued, Abra, and runs thus:

Juan Sadut.

Juan Sadut was a very lazy fellow. His mother was a poor old woman, who earned their living by husking rice. What she earned each day was hardly enough to last them until the next. When a boy, Juan was left at home to watch over their hens and chickens. One day, as his mother went to work, she told Juan to take care of the little chicks, lest a hawk should get them. Now, Juan had been told this so many times, that he had grown tired of watching chickens: consequently, when his mother went away, he tied all the chickens and hens together, and hung them on a tree. He did this, because he thought that no bird of prey could see them there. In the evening, when his mother came home, she asked if everything was all right. Juan said, “Nana, I tied all the hens and chickens by their legs, and hung them in that tree, so that they would be safe.” The mother asked where they were. Juan showed them to her, but they were all dead. The mother was angry, and whipped Juan very severely.

Time passed on, and Juan grew up to be a man; but he was as lazy as ever. He wanted to get married, but the girl he had picked out was the daughter of a rich man; and his mother told him that he was not a good match for the girl, for they were very poor, and, besides, he was too lazy to support a wife. Still Juan was determined to marry the girl, and he thought out a way to get her. One day Juan went to work in the fields, and earned a peseta. The next day he earned another. Then he said to his mother, “Nana, please go to the father of Ines Cannogan (for such was the name of the girl) and borrow their salup (a half cocoanut-shell used for measuring). The mother went, and Ines asked her who had sent for the salup. The mother told her that her son Juan was a merchant that had just arrived from a successful trip. So the salup was lent. When returning the measure, Juan put the two pesetas in the husk of the cocoanut-shell, and told his mother to take it back to Ines, pesetas and all. When Ines examined the salup, she found the pesetas, and told her father all about them.

Not long afterwards Juan sent his mother again to borrow the measure. Again Juan returned it with money sticking in the husk of the shell. This he did several times, until at last Ines’s father believed that Juan was very rich. Juan now had a chance to talk with Ines’s father about his daughter, and of course the old man accepted his proposal immediately. So Juan and Ines were married.

After their marriage, when the old man found out that his new son-in-law was not only very poor, but also very lazy, he repented of his rashness. However, he compelled both Juan and his wife to go work on his farm. Once, when Ines was taking her siesta, many wild cocks and hens came to eat the rice which she had put in the sun to dry. Juan was too lazy to get up and drive them away, so he took Ines’s gold hairpin and threw it at the birds. When Ines awoke, she missed her hairpin. Juan told her what he had done with it. She scolded him so severely, that he felt hurt, and began to weep bitterly, for even his wife disliked him.

The next day Juan went to look for the hairpin at the place where he had thrown it. To his great surprise, he found a bush with golden branches, and on one of them was the hairpin. Immediately he called his wife. They pulled up the bush, and discovered at its roots a jar full of gold and silver money. Now Ines was very proud of her husband’s luck. They went to the town to tell their father of their good fortune. From now on, the old man no longer hated Juan, hut loved him, and gave him all his property to supervise.

Thus Juan Sadut became a rich man without any effort. Fortune favors the lazy sometimes.

The other story comes from the other end of the Archipelago, from the province of Misamis. It was narrated by Antonio Cosin of Tagoloan, Misamis, and is a Visayan tale. As may easily be seen, it is distantly related to Grimm, N, “A Good Bargain.” For the “sale to animals” comic episode, see Grimm’s notes; Clouston, “Book of Noodles,” ; and Bolte-Polivka, 1 : 60. For the “sale to statue” incident, which is analogous to our third episode below, see Clouston, ibid., ; Crane, 379, note 12; Cosquin, 2 : 178. The story follows:

Juan Loco.

A great many years ago there lived a certain fool that went by the name of Juan Loco. He was the son of a butcher, in so far as the following experiences of his are concerned; he had many other experiences that are not recorded in this story.

Juan could not be intrusted with anything, he was such a dunce; but one day he persuaded his father to let him go out and sell meat. So about eight in the morning Juan left home with about three pesos’ worth of pork, full of many a hopeful expectation. After having wandered through many streets, he noticed that a big horse-fly was following him with an imploring murmur. Imagining that the fly wanted to buy meat, this sapient vender said to it, “Do you want to buy meat?” The fly answered with a “buzzzzz.” For Juan this was a sufficient answer: so he left one-third of the pork with the fly, saying that he was coming back again for his pay. Next he met a hungry and greatly-abused pig, and he asked it if it wanted to buy meat. The pig merely said, “hack, hack,” and gave a few angry nods, but Juan understood it to be saying, “Yes:” so he threw it one-half of the meat he had left, with the same warning as he gave the fly, that he was coming back to collect the price of the meat. His third customer was himself, or his reflection. Warm, tired, and thirsty from his wanderings, he came to a well, where he thought he would take a drink. On looking down, however, he saw a man in the bottom of the well. When Juan shouted to him and made gestures, the man or his reflection and the echo of his own voice returned some sort of inarticulate sound, and made the same gestures as Juan. For the third time this sufficed for a “Yes.” So Juan threw the rest of his pork down the well, and said he would come back for his money.

Now comes the collection, which he found to be quite easy. He entered a dry-goods store, where he saw a fly on the hand of the shop-keeper. Juan talked to the fly and demanded his money. It did not answer: so he began chasing it around the room, sometimes striking at it when it was on some customer’s hand. At last, tired of the disturbance, the shop-keeper paid him off to get rid of him. Next Juan came to a garden where there was a pig. With the pig he encountered the same obstinate silence. He began to chase the pig, and he beat it whenever he was near enough to hit it. When the owner of the animal saw what he was doing, and realized that he was crazy, he paid him off, too. Now, as to his third customer. The reflection in the pool simply mocked him and made him disgusted. So Juan got a long pole and stirred the bottom of the well. When he found that this treatment simply made his customer disappear, he began shouting at the top of his voice. Finally the owner of the well came; and, to avoid further disturbance, he also paid him off, for every one could easily see that the vender was crazy (loco) from the way he talked and acted.

So Juan went home in ecstasy. He received much praise from his father, who promised to let him sell meat every day; and the poor fellow gloried in being thus praised.

For other noodle stories of the Filipinos, see our N and JAFL 20 : 104-106.