Narrated by Anicio Pascual of Arayat, Pampanga, who heard the story from an old Pampangan woman.
Once upon a time there lived in a certain village a brave and powerful datu who had only one son. The son was called Pedro. In the same place lived a poor wood-cutter whose name was Juan Manalaksan.
Pedro was rich, and had no work to do. He often diverted himself by hunting deer and wild boars in the forests and mountains. Juan got his living by cutting trees in the forests. One day the datu and his son went to the mountain to hunt. They took with them many dogs and guns. They did not take any food, however, for they felt sure of catching something to eat for their dinner. When they reached the mountain, Pedro killed a deer. By noon they had become tired and hungry, so they went to a shady place to cook their game. While he was eating, Pedro choked on a piece of meat.
The father cried out loudly, for he did not know what to do for his dying son. Juan, who was cutting wood near by, heard the shout. He ran quickly to help Pedro, and by pulling the piece of meat out of his throat he saved Pedro’s life. Pedro was grateful, and said to Juan, “To-morrow come to my palace, and I will give you a reward for helping me.” The next morning Juan set out for the palace. On his way he met an old woman, who asked him where he was going. “I am going to Pedro’s house to get my reward,” said Juan. “Do not accept any reward of money or wealth,” said the old woman, “but ask Pedro to give you the glass which he keeps in his right armpit. The glass is magical. It is as large as a peso, and has a small hole in the centre. If you push a small stick through the hole, giants who can give you anything you want will surround you.” Then the old woman left Juan, and went on her way.
As soon as Juan reached the palace, Pedro said to him, “Go to that room and get all the money you want.” But Juan answered, “I do not want you to give me any money. All I want is the glass which you keep in your right armpit.” “Very well,” said Pedro, “here it is.” glass, he hurried back home. When Juan had received the
Juan reached his hut in the woods, and found his mother starving. He quickly thought of his magic glass, and, punching a small stick through the hole in the glass, he found himself surrounded by giants. “Be quick, and get me some food for my mother!” he said to them.
For a few minutes the giants were gone, but soon they came again with their hands full of food. Juan took it and gave it to his mother; but she ate so much, that she became sick, and died. In a neighboring village ruled another powerful datu, who had a beautiful daughter. One day the datu fell very ill. As no doctor could cure him, he sent his soldiers around the country to say that the man who could cure him should have his daughter for a wife. Juan heard the news, and, relying on his charm, went to cure the datu. On his way, he asked the giants for medicine to cure the sick ruler. When he reached the palace, the datu said to him, “If I am not cured, you shall be killed.” Juan agreed to the conditions, and told the datu to swallow the medicine which he gave him. The datu did so, and at once became well again. The next morning Juan was married to the datu’s daughter. Juan took his wife to live with him in his small hut in the woods. One day he went to the forest to cut trees, leaving his wife and magic glass at home. While Juan was away in the forest, Pedro ordered some of his soldiers to go get the wood-cutter’s wife and magic glass. When Juan returned in the evening, he found wife and glass gone. One of his neighbors told him that his wife had been taken away by some soldiers. Juan was very angry, but he could not avenge himself without his magical glass. At last he decided to go to his father-in-law and tell him all that had happened to his wife. On his way there, he met an old mankukulam, who asked him where he was going. Juan did not tell her, but related to her all that had happened to his wife and glass while he was in the forest cutting trees.
The mankukulam said that she could help him. She told him to go to a certain tree and catch the king of the cats. She furthermore advised him, “Always keep the cat with you.” Juan followed her advice. One day Pedro’s father commanded his soldiers to cut off the ears of all the men in the village, and said that if any one refused to have his ears cut off, he should be placed in a room full of rats. The soldiers did as they were ordered, and in time came to Juan’s house; but, as Juan was unwilling to lose his ears, he was seized and placed in a room full of rats. But he had his cat with him all the time. As soon as he was shut up in the room, he turned his cat loose. When the rats saw that they would all be killed, they said to Juan, “If you will tie your cat up there in the corner, we will help you get whatever you want.” Juan tied his cat up, and then said to the rats, “Bring me all the glasses in this village.” The rats immediately scampered away to obey him. Soon each of them returned with a glass in its mouth. One of them was carrying the magical glass. When Juan had his charm in his hands again, he pushed a small stick through the hole in the glass, and ordered the giants to kill Pedro and his father, and bring him his wife again. Thus Juan got his wife back. They lived happily together till they died.
Juan the Poor, Who became Juan the King. Narrated by Amando Clemente, a Tagalog, who heard the story from his aunt. Once upon a time there lived in a small hut at the edge of a forest a father and son. The poverty of that family gave the son his name,–Juan the Poor.
As the father was old and feeble, Juan had to take care of the household affairs; but there were times when he did not want to work. One day, while Juan was lying behind their fireplace, his father called him, and told him to go to the forest and get some fire-wood. “Very well,” said Juan, but he did not move from his place. After a while the father came to see if his son had gone, but he found him still lying on the floor. “When will you go get that fire-wood, Juan?” “Right now, father,” answered the boy. The old man returned to his room. As he wanted to make sure, however, whether his son had gone or not, he again went to see. When he found Juan in the same position as before, he became very angry, and said,-“Juan, if I come out again and find you still here, I shall surely give you a whipping.” Juan knew well that his father would punish him if he did not go; so he rose up suddenly, took his axe, and went to the forest. When he came to the forest, he marked every tree that he thought would be good for fuel, and then he began cutting. While he was chopping at one of the trees, he saw that it had a hole in the trunk, and in the hole he saw something glistening. Thinking that there might be gold inside the hole, he hastened to cut the tree down; but a monster came out of the hole as soon as the tree fell. When Juan saw the unexpected being, he raised his axe to kill the monster. Before giving the blow, he exclaimed, “Aha! Now is the time for you to die.” The monster moved backward when it saw the blow ready to fall, and said,–
“Good sir, forbear, And my life spare, If you wish a happy life And, besides, a pretty wife.”
Juan lowered his axe, and said, “Oho! is that so?” “Yes, I swear,” answered the monster. “But what is it, and where is it?” said Juan, raising his axe, and feigning to be angry, for he was anxious to get what the monster promised him. The monster told Juan to take from the middle of his tongue a white oval stone. From it he could ask for and get whatever he wanted to have. Juan opened the monster’s mouth and took the valuable stone. Immediately the monster disappeared. The young man then tested the virtues of his charm by asking it for some men to help him work. As soon as he had spoken the last word of his command, there appeared many persons, some of whom cut down trees, while others carried the wood to his house. When Juan was sure that his house was surrounded by piles of fire-wood, he dismissed the men, hurried home, and lay down again behind the fireplace.
He had not been there long, when his father came to see if he had done his work. When the old man saw his son stretched out on the floor, he said, “Juan have we fire-wood now?” “Just look out of the window and see, father!” said Juan. Great was the surprise of the old man when he saw the large piles of wood about his house. The next day Juan, remembering the pretty wife of which the monster had spoken, went to the king’s palace, and told the king that he wanted to marry his daughter. The king smiled scornfully when he saw the rustic appearance of the suitor, and said, “If you will do what I shall ask you to do, I will let you marry my daughter.” “What are your Majesty’s commands for me?” said Juan. “Build me a castle in the middle of the bay; but know, that, if it is not finished in three days’ time, you lose your head,” said the king sternly. Juan promised to do the work. Two days had gone by, yet Juan had not yet commenced his work. For that reason the king believed that Juan did not object to losing his life; but at midnight of the third day, Juan bade his stone build a fort in the middle of the bay. The next morning, while the king was taking his bath, cannon-shots were heard. After a while Juan appeared before the palace, dressed like a prince. When he saw the king, he said, “The fort is ready for your inspection.” “If that is true, you shall be my son-in-law,” said the king. After breakfast the king, with his daughter, visited the fort, which pleased them very much.
The following day the ceremonies of Juan’s marriage with the princess Maria were held with much pomp and solemnity. Shortly after Juan’s wedding a war broke out. Juan led the army of the king his father-in-law to the battlefield, and with the help of his magical stone he conquered his mighty enemy. The defeated general went home full of sorrow. As he had never been defeated before, he thought that Juan must possess some supernatural power. When he reached home, therefore, he issued a proclamation which stated that any one who could get Juan’s power for him should have one-half of his property as a reward. A certain witch, who knew of Juan’s secret, heard of the proclamation. She flew to the general, and told him that she could do what he wanted done. On his agreeing, she flew to Juan’s house one hot afternoon, where she found Maria alone, for Juan had gone out hunting. The old woman smiled when she saw Maria, and said, “Do you not recognize me, pretty Maria? I am the one who nursed you when you were a baby.”
The princess was surprised at what the witch said, for she thought that the old woman was a beggar. Nevertheless she believed what the witch told her, treated the repulsive woman kindly, and offered her cake and wine; but the witch told Maria not to go to any trouble, and ordered her to rest. So Maria lay down to take a siesta. With great show of kindness, the witch fanned the princess till she fell asleep. While Maria was sleeping, the old woman took from underneath the pillow the magical stone, which Juan had forgotten to take along with him. Then she flew to the general, and gave the charm to him. He, in turn, rewarded the old woman with one-half his riches. Meanwhile, as Juan was enjoying his hunt in the forest, a huge bird swooped down on him and seized his horse and clothes.
When the bird flew away, his inner garments were changed back again into his old wood-cutter’s clothes. Full of anxiety at this ill omen, and fearing that some misfortune had befallen his wife, he hastened home on foot as best he could. When he reached his house, he found it vacant. Then he went to the king’s palace, but that too he found deserted. For his stone he did not know where to look. After a few minutes of reflection, he came to the conclusion that all his troubles were caused by the general whom he had defeated in battle. He also suspected that the officer had somehow or other got possession of his magical stone. Poor Juan then began walking toward the country where the general lived. Before he could reach that country, he had to cross three mountains. While he was crossing the first mountain, a cat came running after him, and knocked him down. He was so angry at the animal, that he ran after it, seized it, and dashed its life out against a rock. When he was crossing the second mountain, the same cat appeared and knocked him down a second time. Again Juan seized the animal and killed it, as before; but the same cat that he had killed twice before tumbled him down a third time while he was crossing the third mountain. Filled with curiosity, Juan caught the animal again: but, instead of killing it this time, he put it inside the bag he was carrying, and took it along with him. After many hours of tiresome walking, Juan arrived at the castle of the general, and knocked at the door. The general asked him what he wanted. Juan answered, “I am a poor beggar, who will be thankful if I can have only a mouthful of rice.” The general, however, recognized Juan. He called his servants, and said, “Take this wretched fellow to the cell of rats.” The cell in which Juan was imprisoned was very dark; and as soon as the door was closed, the rats began to bite him. But Juan did not suffer much from them; for, remembering his cat, he let it loose. The cat killed all the rats except their king, which came out of the hole last of all. When the cat saw the king of the rats, it spoke thus: “Now you shall die if you do not promise to get for Juan his magical stone, which your master has stolen.” “Spare my life, and you shall have the stone!” said the king of the rats. “Go and get it, then!” said the cat. The king of the rats ran quickly to the room of the general, and took Juan’s magical stone from the table. As soon as Juan had obtained his stone, and after he had thanked the king of the rats, he said to his stone, “Pretty stone, destroy this house with the general and his subjects, and release my father-in-law and wife from their prison.” Suddenly the earth trembled and a big noise was heard. Not long afterwards Juan saw the castle destroyed, the general and his subjects dead, and his wife and his father-in-law free.
Taking with him the cat and the king of the rats, Juan went home happily with Maria his wife and the king his father-in-law. After the death of the king, Juan ascended to the throne, and ruled wisely. He lived long happily with his lovely wife.
“Edmundo.” In Villa Amante there lived a poor widow, Merced by name, who had to work very hard to keep her only son, the infant Edmundo, alive. Her piety and industry were rewarded, however; and by the time the boy was seven years old, she was able to clothe him well and send him to school. Her brother Tonio undertook the instruction of the youth. Edmundo had a good head, and made rapid progress. (7-41) One day Merced fell sick, and, although she recovered in a short time, Edmundo decided to give up studying and to help his mother earn their living. He became a wood-cutter.
At last fortune came to him. In one of his wanderings in the forest in search of dry wood, he happened upon an enormous python. He would have fled in terror had not the snake spoken to him, to his amazement, and
requested him to pull from its throat the stag which was choking it. He performed the service for the reptile, and in turn was invited to the cave where it lived. Out of gratitude the python gave Edmundo a magic mirror that would furnish the possessor with whatever he wanted. With the help of this charm, mother and son soon had everything they needed to make them happy.
At about this time King Romualdo of France decided to look for a husband for his daughter, the beautiful Leonora. He was unable to pick out a son-in-law from the many suitors who presented themselves; and so he had it proclaimed at a concourse of all the youths of the realm, “Whoever can fill my cellar with money before morning shall have the hand of Leonora.” Edmundo was the only one to accept the challenge, for failure to perform the task meant death. At midnight he took his enchanted mirror and commanded it to fill the king’s cellar with money. In the morning the king was astonished at the sight, but there was no way of avoiding the marriage. So Leonora became the wife of the lowly-born wood-cutter. The young couple went to Villa Amante to live. There, to astonish his wife, Edmundo had a palace built in one night. She was dumfounded to awake in the morning and find herself in a magnificent home; and when she asked him about it, he confided to her the secret of his wonderful charm. Later, to gratify the humor of the king, who visited him, Edmundo ordered his mirror to transport the palace to a seacoast town. There he and his wife lived very happily together.
One day Leonora noticed from her window two vessels sailing towards the town. Her fears and premonitions were so great, that Edmundo, to calm her, sank the ships by means of his magic power. But the sinking of these vessels brought misfortunes. Their owner, the Sultan of Turkey, learned of the magic mirror possessed by Edmundo (how he got this information is not stated), and hired an old woman to go to France in the guise of a beggar and steal the charm. She was successful in getting it, and then returned with it to her master. The Sultan then invaded France, and with the talisman, by which he called to his aid six invincible giants, conquered the country. He took the king, queen, and Leonora as captives back with him to Turkey. Edmundo was left in France to look after the affairs of the country.
Edmundo became melancholy, and at last decided to seek his wife. He left his mother and his servant behind, and took with him only a diamond ring of Leonora’s, his cat, and his dog. While walking along the seashore, wondering how he could cross the ocean, he saw a huge fish washed up on the sand. The fish requested him to drag it to the water. When Edmundo had done so, the fish told him to get on its back, and promised to carry him to Leonora. So done. The fish swam rapidly through the water, Edmundo holding his dog and cat in his breast. The dog was soon washed “overboard,” but the cat clung to him. After a ride of a day and a night, the fish landed him on a strange shore. It happened to be the coast of Turkey. Edmundo stopped at an inn, pretending to be a shipwrecked merchant. There he decided to stay for a while, and there he found
out the situation of Leonora in this wise. Now, it happened that the Sultan used to send to this inn for choice dishes for Leonora, whom he was keeping close captive. By inquiry Edmundo learned of the close proximity of his wife, and one day he managed to insert her ring into one of the eggs that were to be taken back to her. She guessed that he was near; and, in order to communicate with him, she requested permission of the king to walk with her maid in the garden that was close by the inn. She saw Edmundo, and smiled on him; but the maid noticed the greeting, and reported it to the Sultan. The Sultan ordered the man summoned; and when he recognized Edmundo, he had him imprisoned and put in stocks. (314-350) Edmundo was now in despair, and thought it better to die than live; but his faithful cat, which had followed him unnoticed to the prison, saved him. In the jail there were many rats. That night the cat began to kill these relentlessly, until the captain of the rats, fearing that his whole race would be exterminated, requested Edmundo to tie up his cat and spare them. Edmundo promised to do so on condition that the rat bring him the small gold-rimmed mirror in the possession of the Sultan. At dawn the rat captain arrived with the mirror between its teeth. Out of gratitude Edmundo now had his mirror bring to life all the rats that had been slain. (351-366) Then he ordered before him his wife, the king, the queen, the crown and sceptre of France. All, including the other prisoners of the Sultan, were transported back to France. At the same time the Sultan’s palace and prison were destroyed. Next morning, when the Grand Sultan awoke, he was enraged to find himself outwitted; but what could he do? Even if he were able to jump as high as the sky, he could not bring back Leonora. When the French Court returned to France, Edmundo was crowned successor to the throne: the delight of every one was unbounded. The last six stanzas are occupied with the author’s leave-taking.
Groome summarizes a Roumanian-Gypsy story, “The Stolen Ox,” from Dr. Barbu Constantinescu’s collection (Bucharest, 1878), which, while but a fragment, appears to be connected with this cycle of the “Magic Ring,” and presents a curious parallel to a situation in “Edmundo:”-“… The lad serves the farmer faithfully, and at the end of his term sets off home. On his way he lights on a dragon, and in the snake’s mouth is a stag. Nine years had that snake the stag in its mouth, and been trying to swallow it, but could not because of its horns. Now, that snake was a prince; and seeing the lad, whom God had sent his way, ‘Lad,’ said the snake, ‘relieve me of this stag’s horns, for I’ve been going about nine years with it in my mouth.’ So the lad broke off the horns, and the snake swallowed the stag. ‘My lad, tie me round your neck and carry me to my father, for he doesn’t know where I am.’ So he carried him to his father, and his father rewarded him.” It is curious to see this identical situation of the hero winning his magic reward by saving some person or animal from choking appearing in Roumania and the Philippines, and in connection, too, with incidents from the “Magic Ring” cycle. The resemblance can hardly be fortuitous.
Reference: Filipino Popular Tales, by Dean S. Fansler
Notes from Frasner. These two stories belong to the “Magic Ring” cycle, and are connected with the well-known “Aladdin” tale. Antti Aarne (pp. 1-82) reconstructs the original formula of this type, which was about as follows:-A youth buys the life of a dog and a cat, liberates a serpent, and receives from its parent a wishing-stone, by means of which he builds himself a magnificent castle and wins as his wife a princess. But a thief steals the stone and removes castle and wife over the sea. Then the dog and the cat swim across the ocean, catch a mouse, and compel it to fetch the stone from out of the mouth of the thief. Upon their return journey, cat and dog quarrel, and the stone falls into the sea. After they have obtained it again with the help of a frog, they bring it to their master, who wishes his castle and wife back once more. In nearly every detail our stories vary from this norm: (1) The hero does not buy the life of any animals, (2) he does not acquire the charm from a grateful serpent that he has unselfishly saved from death, (3) the dog does not appear at all, (4) castle and wife are not transported beyond the sea, (5) the cat does not serve the hero voluntarily out of gratitude, (6) the hero himself journeys to recover his stolen charm. And yet there can be no doubt of the connection of our stories with this cycle. The acquirement of a charm, through the help of which the hero performs a difficult task under penalty of death, and thus wins the hand of a ruler’s daughter; the theft of the charm and the disappearance of the wife; the search, which is finally brought to a successful close through the help of a cat and the king of the rats; the recovery of wife and charm, and the death of the hero’s enemies, these details in combination are unmistakable proofs. Most of the characteristic details, however, of the “Magic Ring” cycle are to be found in the Philippines, although they are lacking in these two stories. For instance, in No. 26 the hero buys the life of a snake for five cents, and is rewarded by the king of the serpents with a magic wishing-cloth (cf. E. Steere, 403). In a Visayan pourquoi story, “Why Dogs wag their Tails” (see JAFL 20 : 98-100), we have a variant of the situation of the helpful dog and cat carrying a ring across a body of water, the quarrel in mid-stream, and the loss of the charm. In the same volume (pp. 117-118) is to be found a Tagalog folk-version of the “Aladdin” tale.  Neither “Juan Manalaksan” nor “Juan the Poor, who became Juan the King,” can be traced, I believe, to any of the hundred and sixty-three particular forms of the story cited by Aarne. The differences in detail are too many. The last part of Pedroso’s Portuguese folk-tale, No. xxx, is like (b), in that the hero himself seeks the thief, takes along with him a cat, is recognized by the thief and imprisoned, and by means of the cat threatens the king of the rats, who recovers the charm for him. But the first part is entirely different: the charm is an apple obtained from a hind, and the hero’s wife is not stolen along with the charm. No Spanish version has been recorded. It is not impossible that the story in the Philippines is prehistoric. “Juan Manalaksan,” which the narrator took down exactly as it was told to him, clearly dates back to a time when the tribe had its own native datu government, possibly to a time even before the Pampangans migrated to the Philippines. The whole “equipment” of this story is primitive to a degree. Moreover, the nature of the charm in both stories–a piece of glass and an oval stone instead of the more usual ring–points to the primitiveness of our versions, as does likewise the fact that the charm is not stolen from the hero by his wife, but by some other person (see Aarne, pp. 43, 45). For further discussions of this cycle of folk-tales, and its relation to the Arabian literary version, see Aarne, 61 et seq. Compare also Macculloch, 201-202, 237-238; Groome, 218-220; Clouston’s “Variants of Button’s Supplemental Arabian Nights,” pp. 564-575; Bolte-Polívka, 2 : 451-458; Benfey, 1 : 211 ff. Add to Aarne’s and Bolte’s lists Wratislaw, No. 54. See also Dähnhardt, 4 : 147-160. In conclusion, I may add in the way of an Appendix, as it were, a brief synopsis of a Tagalog romance entitled “Story of Edmundo, Son of Merced in the Kingdom of France; taken from a novela and composed by one who enjoys writing the Tagalog language. Manila 1909.” This verse-form of a story at bottom the same as our two folk-tales is doubtless much more recent than our folk-tales themselves, and is possibly based on them directly, despite the anonymous author’s statement as to the unnamed novela that was his source. In the following summary of the “Story of Edmundo,” the numbers in parentheses refer to stanzas of the original Tagalog text.#by Dean S. Fansler #Filipino Popular Tales #juan manlaksan #literature #pampangga literature #philippine literature