Narrated by Felix Y. Velasco, who heard the story from his grandmother, a native of Laoag, Ilocos Norte.

from Filipino Popular Tales by Dean S. Fansler

Once upon a time there lived in a small village on the border of a powerful kingdom a poor farmer, who had a son. This son was called a fool by many; but a palmer predicted that Cochinango would some day dine with the king, kiss the princess, marry her, and finally would himself be king.

Cochinango wondered how he could ever marry the princess and himself be king, for he was very poor. One day he heard that the king had summoned all those who would like to attempt to answer the questions of the princess. It was announced that the person who could answer them all without fall should marry her. Cochinango thought that the time had now come for him to try his fortune, so he mounted his ass and rode towards the king’s palace.

On his way Cochinango had to pass through a wide forest. Just at the edge of the wood he met a weary traveller. Cochinango had forgotten to bring buyo with him, so he asked the traveller for some. The traveller said, “I have with me a magic buyo that will answer any question you put to it. If you give me some food, I will give you my buyo.” Cochinango willingly exchanged a part of his provisions for it. Then he rode on.

He came to a stream, where he met an old man leaning on his cane. Seeing that the old man wanted to get on the other side, but was too weak to swim, Cochinango offered to carry him across. In return for his kindness, the old man gave him his cane. “You are very kind, young man,” said he. “Take this cane, which will furnish you with food at any time.” Cochinango thanked the old man, took the cane, and rode on. It is to be known that this old man was the same one who had given him the magic buyo. It was God himself, who had come down on earth to test Cochinango and to reward him for his kindness.

Cochinango had not ridden far when he met a wretched old woman. Out of pity he gave her a centavo, and in return she gave him an empty purse from which he could ask any sum of money he wanted. Cochinango rode on, delighted with his good fortune, when he met God again, this time in the form of a jolly young fellow with a small guitar. He asked Cochinango [277]to exchange his ass for the guitar. At first Cochinango hesitated; but, when he was told that he could make anybody dance by plucking its strings, he readily agreed to exchange.

Cochinango now had to proceed on foot, and it took him two days to reach the gates of the palace. Luckily he arrived on the very day of the guessing-contest. In spite of his mean dress, he was admitted. The princess was much astonished at Cochinango’s appearance, and disgusted by his boldness; but she was even more chagrined when he rightly answered her first question. Yet she denied that his answer was correct. She asked him two more questions, the most difficult that she could think of; but Cochinango, with the help of his magic buyo, answered both. The princess, however, could not admit that his answers were right. She shrunk from the idea of being married to a poor, foolish, lowly-born man. So she asked her father the king to imprison the insolent peasant, which was instantly done.

In the prison Cochinango found many nobles who, like himself, were victims of the guessing-match. Night came, and they were not given any food. The princess wanted to starve them to death. Cochinango told them not to worry; he struck a table with his cane, and instantly choice food appeared. When this was reported to the princess by the guards, she went to the prison and begged Cochinango to give her the cane; but he would not give it up unless she allowed him to kiss her. At last she consented, and went away with the cane, thinking that this was the only way by which she could starve her prisoners. The next day Cochinango asked for a large sum of money from his magic purse. He distributed it among his companions and among the guards, and they had no difficulty in getting food. Again the princess went to the prison, and asked Cochinango for the purse; but he would give it up only on condition that he be allowed to dine with the king. Accordingly he was taken to the king’s table, where he ate with the king and the princess; but he was put in prison again as soon as the dinner was over.

At last Cochinango began to be tired of prison life, so he took up his wonderful guitar and began to play it. No sooner had he touched the strings than his fellow-prisoners and the guards began to dance. As he played his guitar louder and louder, the inmates of the palace heard it, and they too began to dance. He kept on playing throughout the night; and the king, princess, [278]and all got no rest whatsoever. By morning most of them were tired to death. At last the king ordered the guards to open the prison doors and let the prisoners go free; but Cochinango would not stop playing until the king consented to give him the princess in marriage. The princess also at last had to agree to accept Cochinango as her husband, so he stopped playing. The next day they were married with great pomp and ceremony.

Thus the poor, foolish boy was married to a princess. More than once he saved the kingdom from the raiding Moros by playing his guitar; for all his enemies were obliged to dance when they heard the music, and thus they were easily captured or killed. When the king died, Cochinango became his successor, and he and the princess ruled happily for many years.

The folk-tales collected in the Philippines during the years from 1908 to 1914, have not appeared in print before. They are given to the public now in the hope that they will be no mean or uninteresting addition to the volumes of Oriental Märchen already in existence. The Philippine archipelago, from the very nature of its geographical position and its political history, cannot but be a significant field to the student of popular stories. Lying as it does at the very doors of China and Japan, connected as it is ethnically with the Malayan and Indian civilizations, Occidentalized as it has been for three centuries and more, it stands at the junction of East and West. It is therefore from this point of view that these tales have been put into a form convenient for reference. Their importance consists in their relationship to the body of world fiction.

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Short Stories | Philippine Literature