John Maurice Miller.

Philippine Folklore Stories online

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Produced by Jeroen Hellingman


John Maurice Miller,
Boston, U.S.A.



As these stories are only legends that have been handed down from
remote times, the teacher must impress upon the minds of the children
that they are myths and are not to be given credence; otherwise the
imaginative minds of the native children would accept them as truth,
and trouble would be caused that might be hard to remedy. Explain
then the fiction and show the children the folly of belief in such
fanciful tales.


The Tobacco of Harisaboqued
The Pericos
Quicoy and the Ongloc
The Passing of Loku
The Light of the Fly
Mangita and Larina
How the World Was Made
The Silver Shower
The Faithlessness of Sinogo
Catalina of Dumaguete
The Fall of Polobolac
The Escape of Juanita
The Anting-Anting of Manuelito
When the Lilies Return

The Tobacco of Harisaboqued

A legend of the volcano of Canlaon on the island of Negros. It is
told generally in Western Negros and Eastern Cebu. The volcano is
still active, and smoke and steam rise from its crater.

Long before the strange men came over the water from Spain, there
lived in Negros, on the mountain of Canlaon, an old man who had great
power over all the things in the earth. He was called Harisaboqued,
King of the Mountain.

When he wished anything done he had but to tap the ground three times
and instantly a number of little men would spring from the earth
to answer his call. They would obey his slightest wish, but as he
was a kind old man and never told his dwarfs to do anything wrong,
the people who lived near were not afraid. They planted tobacco on
the mountain side and were happy and prosperous,

The fields stretched almost to the top of the mountain and the plants
grew well, for every night Harisaboqued would order his dwarfs to
attend to them, and though the tobacco was high up it grew faster
and better than that planted in the valley below.

The people were very grateful to the old man and were willing to do
anything for him; but he only asked them not to plant above a line
he had ordered his little men to draw around the mountain near the
top. He wished that place for himself and his dwarfs.

All obeyed his wish and no one planted over the line. It was a pretty
sight to see the long rows of tobacco plants extending from the towns
below far up to the line on the mountain side.

One day Harisaboqued called the people together and told them that
he was going away for a long time. He asked them again not to plant
over the line, and told them that if they disregarded this wish
he would carry all the tobacco away and permit no more to grow on
the mountain side until he had smoked what he had taken. The people
promised faithfully to obey him. Then he tapped on the ground, the
earth opened, and he disappeared into the mountain.

Many years passed and Harisaboqued did not come back. All wondered
why he did not return and at last decided that he would never do
so. The whole mountain side was covered with tobacco and many of the
people looked with greedy eyes at the bare ground above the line,
but as yet they were afraid to break their promise.

At last one man planted in the forbidden ground, and, as nothing
happened, others did the same, until soon the mountain was entirely
covered with the waving plants. The people were very happy and soon
forgot about Harisaboqued and their promise to him.

But one day, while they were laughing and singing, the earth suddenly
opened and Harisaboqued sprang out before them. They were very much
frightened and fled in terror down the mountain side. When they reached
the foot and looked back they saw a terrible sight. All the tobacco
had disappeared and, instead of the thousands of plants that they
had tended so carefully, nothing but the bare mountain could be seen.

Then suddenly there was a fearful noise and the whole mountain top
flew high in the air, leaving an immense hole from which poured fire
and smoke.

The people fled and did not stop until they were far away. Harisaboqued
had kept his word.

Many years have come and gone, but the mountain is bare and the
smoke still rolls out of the mountain top. Villages have sprung up
along the sides, but no tobacco is grown on the mountain. The people
remember the tales of the former great crops and turn longing eyes
to the heights above them, but they will have to wait. Harisaboqued
is still smoking his tobacco.

The Pericos

Throughout the Visayan islands almost every family owns a pericos,
kept as American children keep canary birds. The pericos is about
the size and color of a Crow, but has a hard white hood that entirely
covers its head. The people teach it but one phrase, which it repeats
continually, parrot fashion. The words are, "Comusta pari? Pericos
tao." (How are you, father? Parrot-man.) "Pari" means padre or
priest. The people address the pericos as "pari" because its white
head, devoid of feathers, seems to resemble the shaven crowns of the
friars and native priests.


In his small wooden box
That hangs on the wall
Sits a queer-looking bird
That in words sounds his call.
From daybreak to twilight
His cry he repeats,
Resting only whenever
He drinks or he eats.
He never grows weary, -
Hear! There he goes now!
"Comusta pari?
Pericos tao."


And all the day long
You can hear this strange cry:
"How are you, father?
A parrot-man I."
He sits on his perch,
In his little white cap,
And pecks at your hand
If the cage door you tap.
Now give him some seeds,
Hear him say with a bow,
"Comusta pari?
Pericos tao."


Poor little birdie!
How hard it must be
To sit there in prison
And never be free!
I'll give you a mango,
And teach you to say
"Thank you," and "Yes, sir,"
And also "Good day."
You'll find English as easy
As what you say now,
"Comusta pari?
Pericos tao."


I'll teach you "Good morning"
And "How do you do?"
Or "I am well, thank you,"
And "How are you too?"
"Polly is hungry" or
"It's a fine day."
These and much more
I am sure you could say.
But now I must go,
So say with your bow,
"Comusta pari?
Pericos tao."

Quicoy and the Ongloc

This story is known generally in the southern Islands. The Ongloc
is feared by the children just as some little boys and girls fear
the Bogy Man. The tale is a favorite one among the children and they
believe firmly in the fate of Quicoy.

Little Quicoy's name was Francisco, but every one called him Quicoy,
which, in Visayan, is the pet name for Francisco. He was a good
little boy and helped his mother grind the corn and pound the rice
in the big wooden bowl, but one night he was very careless. While
playing in the corner with the cat he upset the jar of lubi lana,
and all the oil ran down between the bamboo strips in the floor and
was lost. There was none left to put in the glass and light, so the
whole family had to go to bed in the dark.

Quicoy's mother was angry. She whipped him with her chinela and then
opened the window and cried:

"Ongloc of the mountains!
Fly in through the door.
Catch Quicoy and eat him,
He is mine no more."

Quicoy was badly frightened when he heard this, for the Ongloc is a big
black man with terrible long teeth, who all night goes searching for
the bad boys and girls that he may change them into little cocoanuts
and put them on a shelf in his rock house in the mountains to eat
when he is hungry.

So when Quicoy went to his bed in the corner he pulled the matting over
his head and was so afraid that he did not go to sleep for a long time.

The next morning he rose very early and went down to the spring where
the boys get the water to put in the bamboo poles and carry home. Some
boys were already there, and he told them what had taken place the
night before. They were all sorry that his mother had called the
Ongloc, but they told him not to be afraid for they would tell him
how he could be forever safe from that terrible man.

It was very easy. All he had to do was to go at dusk to the cocoanut
grove by the river and dig holes under two trees. Then he was to climb
a tree, get the cocoanut that grew the highest, and, after taking
off the husk and punching in one of the little eyes, whisper inside:

"Ongloc of the mountains!
Ongloc! Ugly man!
I'm a little cocoanut,
Catch me if you can!"

Then he was to cut the cocoanut in halves, quickly bury one piece in
one of the holes, and, running to the other tree, bury the remaining
half in the other hole. After that he might walk home safely, being
sure not to run, for the Ongloc has always to obey the call of the
cocoanut, and must hunt through the grove to find the one that called
him. Should he cross the line between the holes, the buried pieces
would fly out of the holes, snap together on him, and, flying up the
tree from which they came, would keep him prisoner for a hundred years.

Quicoy was happy to think that he could capture the Ongloc, and
resolved to go that very night. He wanted some of the boys to go with
him, but they said he must go alone or the charm would be broken. They
also told him to be careful himself and not cross the line between
the holes or he would be caught as easily as the Ongloc.

So Quicoy went home and kept very quiet all day. His mother was sorry
she had frightened him the night before, and was going to tell him
not to be afraid; but when she thought of the lubi lana spilled on
the ground, she resolved to punish him more by saying nothing to him.

Just at dark, when no one was looking, Quicoy took his father's bolo
and quietly slipped away to the grove down by the river. He was not
afraid of ladrones, but he needed the bolo because it is not easy
to open a cocoanut, and it takes some time, even with a bolo, to get
the husk chopped from the fruit.

Quicoy felt a little frightened when he saw all the big trees around
him. The wind made strange noises in the branches high above him,
and all the trees seemed to be leaning over and trying to speak to
him. He felt somewhat sorry that he had come, but when he thought of
the Ongloc he mustered up courage and went on until he found an open
space between two high trees.

He stopped here and dug a hole under each of the trees. Then he put his
feet in the notches and climbed one of the trees. It was hard work,
for the notches were far apart; but at last he reached the branches
and climbed to the top. The wind rocked the tree and made him dizzy,
but he reached the highest cocoanut, threw it to the ground, and then
'started down the tree. It was easy to come down, though he went
too fast and slipped and slid some distance, skinning his arms and
legs. He did not mind that, however, for he knew he had the cocoanut
that would capture the Ongloc. He picked it up, chopped off the husk,
punched in one of the little eyes, and whispered inside:

"Ongloc of the mountains!
Ongloc! Ugly man!
I'm a little cocoanut,
Catch me if you can!"

He then chopped it in halves and buried one piece, and, running
to the other tree, buried the remaining piece. Just as he finished
he thought he heard a noise in the grove, and, instead of walking,
he started to run as fast as he could.

It was very dark now, and the noise grew louder and made him run
faster and faster, until suddenly a dreadful scream sounded directly in
front of him, and a terrible black thing with fiery eyes came flying
at him. He turned in terror and ran back toward the trees. He knew it
was the Ongloc answering the call of the cocoanut, and he ran like mad,
but the monster had seen him and flew after him, screaming with rage.

Faster and faster he ran, but nearer and nearer sounded the frightful
screams until, just as he felt two huge claws close on his neck, there
was a bump, a loud snap, and he felt himself being carried high in the
air. When the shock was over he found that he was squeezed tightly
between two hard walls, and he could hear the Ongloc screaming and
tearing at the outside with his claws. Then he knew what had happened.

He had crossed the line between the buried pieces and they had snapped
on him and carried him up the tree from which they came. He was badly
squeezed but he felt safe from the Ongloc, who finally went away in
disappointment; for, although he likes cocoanuts, he cannot take one
from a tree, but must change a boy or girl into the fruit if he wishes
to eat of it.

Quicoy waited a long, long time and then knocked on the shell in the
hope that some one would hear him. All that night and the next day
and the next he knocked and cried and knocked, but, though people
passed under the tree and found the bolo, he was so high up they did
not hear him.

Days and weeks went by and the people wondered what had become of
Quicoy. Many thought he had run away and were sorry for his poor
mother, who grieved very much to think she had terrified him by calling
the Ongloc. Of course the boys who had sent him to the grove could
have told something of his whereabouts, but they were frightened and
said nothing, so no one ever heard of poor little Quicoy again.

If you pass a cocoanut grove at night you can hear a noise like some
one knocking. The older people say that the cocoanuts grow so closely
together high up in the branches that the wind, when it shakes the
tree, bumps them together. But the children know better. They say,
"Quicoy is knocking to get out, but he must stay there a hundred

The Passing of Loku

The tale of Loku is applied to a large, ugly lizard which climbs
to the rafters of houses and gives the peculiar cry that suggests
its name. This lizard, although hideous, is harmless; it lives on
centipedes. Its strange cry may be heard everywhere in the Philippine

Hundreds of years ago a very wicked king named Loku ruled the
Philippines. He was cruel and unjust, and condemned to death all who
refused to do his bidding. He had vast armies and made war on all
until his name was feared everywhere.

His power was very great. He conquered every nation that opposed him
and killed so many people that the god, viewing the slaughter from
his throne above, sent an angel to order him to cease from warfare
and to rule the land in peace.

Loku was in his palace, planning an assault on his neighbors, when
a soft light filled the chamber, and a beautiful angel appeared and
delivered the mandate of the master.

The cruel king paid no heed, but dismissed the holy messenger
in scorn. "Tell your master," said he, "to deliver his message in
person. I do not deal with messengers. I am Loku. All fear my name. I
am the great Loku."

Hardly had he spoken when the palace shook to its foundations and a
mighty voice thundered, "Is it thus thou Slightest my word? Thou art
Loku. All shall indeed know thy name. From every crevice thou shalt
forever cry it in a form that suits thy ill nature."

The courtiers, alarmed by the shock, rushed to the king's chamber,
but Loku was nowhere to be found. The royal robes lay scattered on
the floor and the only living thing to be seen was an ugly lizard
that blinked at them from among the plans on the table.

They searched far and wide, and when no trace of the king could be
found the courtiers divided the kingdom and ruled so wisely and well
that there was peace for many years.

As for Loku, you may still hear him fulfilling his punishment. From
crack and crevice, tree and shrub, he calls his name from dark till
dawn: "Lok-u! Lok-u! Lok-u!"

And he must cry it forever.

The Light of the Fly

The firefly abounds everywhere in the Islands.


The King of the Air was in terrible rage,
For some one had stolen his ring;
And every one wondered whoever could dare
To do such a terrible thing.
He called all his subjects together and said,
"To him that shall find it I'll give
Whatever he asks, and this bounty of mine
Shall last while his family live."


Away went his good loyal subjects to search,
And no one remained but a fly.
"Be off!" said the King, "go and join in the search;
Would you slight such a ruler as I?"
Then up spoke the fly with his little wee voice:
"The ring is not stolen," he said.
"It stuck to your crown when you put it away,
And now it's on top of your head."


The King in surprise took the crown from his head,
And there, sure enough, was the ring.
"No wonder you saw it, with so many eyes;
But what is your wish?" said the King.
"O King," said the fly, "I work hard all the day,
And I never can go out at night.
I should like to go then and be gay with my friends,
So all that I wish is a light."


"You shall have it at once," said the gratified King,
And he fastened a light to the fly,
Who straightway returned to his home with the prize
That was worth more than money could buy.
So now you can see him at night with his light
And from him this lesson may learn:
To keep your eyes open and see the least thing,
And Fortune will come in its turn.

Mangita and Larina

This is a tale told in the lake district of Luzon. At times of rain
or in winter the waters of the Laguna de Bai rise and detach from the
banks a peculiar vegetation that resembles lettuce. These plants,
which float for months down the Pasig River, gave rise, no doubt,
to the story.

Many years ago there lived on the banks of the Laguna de Bai a poor
fisherman whose wife had died, leaving him two beautiful daughters
named Mangita and Larina.

Mangita had hair as black as night and a dark skin. She was as good
as she was beautiful, and was loved by all for her kindness. She
helped her father mend the nets and make the torches to fish with at
night, and her bright smile lit up the little nipa house like a ray
of sunshine.

Larina was fair and had long golden hair of which she was very
proud. She was different from her sister, and never helped with the
work, but spent the day combing her hair and catching butterflies. She
would catch a pretty butterfly, cruelly stick a pin through it,
and fasten it in her hair. Then she would go down to the lake to see
her reflection in the clear water, and would laugh to see the poor
butterfly struggling in pain. The people disliked her for her cruelty,
but they loved Mangita very much. This made Larina jealous, and the
more Mangita was loved, the more her sister thought evil of her.

One day a poor old woman came to the nipa house and begged for a
little rice to put in her bowl. Mangita was mending a net and Larina
was combing her hair in the doorway. When Larina saw the old woman
she spoke mockingly to her and gave her a push that made her fall
and cut her head on a sharp rock; but Mangita sprang to help her,
washed the blood away from her head, and filled her bowl with rice
from the jar in the kitchen.

The poor woman thanked her and promised never to forget her kindness,
but to her sister she spoke not a word. Larina did not care, however,
but laughed at her and mocked her as she painfully made her way again
down the road. When she had gone Mangita took Larina to task for
her cruel treatment of a stranger; but, instead of doing any good,
it only caused Larina to hate her sister all the more.

Some time afterwards the poor fisherman died. He had gone to the big
city down the river to sell his fish, and had been attacked with a
terrible sickness that was raging there.

The girls were now alone in the world.

Mangita carved pretty shells and earned enough to buy food, but,
though she begged Larina to try to help, her sister would only idle
away the time.

The terrible sickness now swept everywhere and poor Mangita, too,
fell ill. She asked Larina to nurse her, but the latter was jealous
of her and would do nothing to ease her pain. Mangita grew worse
and worse, but finally, when it seemed as if she would soon die,
the door opened and the old woman to whom she had been so kind came
into the room. She had a bag of seeds in her hand, and taking one
she gave it to Mangita, who soon showed signs of being better, but
was so weak that she could not give thanks.

The old woman then gave the bag to Larina and told her to give a seed
to her sister every hour until she returned. She then went away and
left the girls alone.

Larina watched her sister, but did not give her a single seed. Instead,
she hid them in her own long hair and paid no attention to Mangita's
moans of pain.

The poor girl's cries grew weaker and weaker, but not a seed would
her cruel sister give her. In fact, Larina was so jealous that she
wished her sister to die.

When at last the old woman returned, poor Mangita was at the point of
death. The visitor bent over the sick girl and then asked her sister
if she had given Mangita the seeds. Larina showed her the empty bag
and said she had given them as directed. The old woman searched the
house, but of course could not find the seeds. She then asked Larina
again if she had given them to Mangita. Again the cruel girl said
that she had done so.

Suddenly the room was filled with a blinding light, and when Larina
could see once more, in place of the old woman stood a beautiful
fairy holding the now well Mangita in her arms.

She pointed to Larina and said, "I am the poor woman who asked for
rice. I wished to know your hearts. You were cruel and Mangita was
kind, so she shall live with me in my island home in the lake. As for
you, because you tried to do evil to your good sister, you shall sit
at the bottom of the lake forever, combing out the seeds you have
hidden in your hair." Then, she clapped her hands and a number of
elves appeared and carried the struggling Larina away.

"Come," said the fairy to Mangita, and she carried her to her beautiful
home, where she lives in peace and happiness.

As for Larina, she sits at the bottom of the lake and combs her
hair. As she combs a seed out, another comes in, and every seed that
is combed out becomes a green plant that floats out of the lake and
down the Pasig.

And to this day people can see them, and know that Larina is being
punished for her wickedness.

How the World Was Made

This is the ancient Filipino account of the creation.

Thousands of years ago there was no land nor sun nor moon nor stars,
and the world was only a great sea of water, above which stretched
the sky. The water was the kingdom of the god Maguayan, and the sky
was ruled by the great god Captan.

Maguayan had a daughter called Lidagat, the sea, and Captan had a
son known as Lihangin, the wind. The gods agreed to the marriage of
their children, so the sea became the bride of the wind.

Three sons and a daughter were born to them. The sons were called
Licalibutan, Liadlao, and Libulan, and the daughter received the name
of Lisuga.

Licalibutan had a body of rock and was strong and brave; Liadlao
was formed of gold and was always happy; Libulan was made of copper
and was weak and timid; and the beautiful Lisuga had a body of pure
silver and was sweet and gentle. Their parents were very fond of them,
and nothing was wanting to make them happy.

After a time Lihangin died and left the control of the winds to his
eldest son Licalibutan. The faithful wife Lidagat soon followed her
husband, and the children, now grown up, were left without father or
mother. However, their grandfathers, Captan and Maguayan, took care
of them and guarded them from all evil.

After a time, Licalibutan, proud of his power over the winds, resolved
to gain more power, and asked his brothers to join him in an attack on
Captan in the sky above. At first they refused; but when Licalibutan
became angry with them, the amiable Liadlao, not wishing to offend
his brother, agreed to help. Then together they induced the timid
Libulan to join in the plan.

When all was ready the three brothers rushed at the sky, but they
could not beat down the gates of steel that guarded the entrance. Then
Licalibutan let loose the strongest winds and blew the bars in every
direction. The brothers rushed into the opening, but were met by
the angry god Captan. So terrible did he look that they turned and
ran in terror; but Captan, furious at the destruction of his gates,
sent three bolts of lightning after them.

The first struck the copper Libulan and melted him into a ball. The
second struck the golden Liadlao and he too was melted. The third
bolt struck Licalibutan and his rocky body broke into many pieces
and fell into the sea. So huge was he that parts of his body stuck
out above the water and became what is known as land.

In the meantime the gentle Lisuga had missed her brothers and started

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Online LibraryJohn Maurice MillerPhilippine Folklore Stories → online text (page 1 of 3)