Filipino Popular Tale: The Lazy Husband

November 7, 2015 Our Blog

Many hundreds of years ago there lived in the isolated village of Hignaroy a poor couple who had many children to care for. Barbara, the wife, was an industrious but shrewish woman. She worked all day in a factory to support her many children. The husband, Alejo, on the other hand, idled away his time. He either ate, or drank, or slept all the time his wife was away at work. In the course of time Barbara naturally became disgusted with her husband’s indolence; and every time she came home, she would rail at him and assail him with hot, insolent words, taxing him with not doing anything, and with caring nothing about what was going on in the house: for, on her return home in the evening, she would always find him asleep; while the floor would always be strewn with chairs, benches, and pictures, which the children had left in a disorderly way after playing.

Alejo seemed to take no heed of what she said; he became more sluggish, and had no mind for anything but sleeping all day. What was worse, was that he would eat such big meals, that he left but little food for his wife and children. Barbara’s anger and impatience grew so strong, that she no longer used words as a means to reform her husband. She would kick him as he lay lazily on his bed, and would even whip him like a child. Finally the thought of leaving home came into his head; he determined to travel to some distant land, partly with the purpose of getting away from his wife, who was always interfering with his ease, and partly with the purpose of seeking his fortune.

One day he set out on a long journey, wandering through woods, over hills, and along the banks of rivers, where no human creature could be seen. After roaming about a long time, he became tired, and lay down to rest in the shade of a tree near the bank of a river. While he was listening to the melodious sounds of the birds and the sweet murmur of the water, and was meditating on his wretched condition, an old humpback came upon him, and addressed him in this manner: “What is the matter, my friend? Why do you look so sad?”

“I am in great trouble,” said Alejo. “I will tell you all about it. I am married, and have many children to support; but I am poor. I have been idling away my time, and my wife has been kicking and whipping me like a child for not doing anything all day. So I have finally left home to seek my fortune.”

“Don’t be worried, my son!” said the old man. “Here, take this purse! It has nothing in it; but, if you need money at any time, just say these words,—‘Sopot, ua-ua sopot!’—and it will give you money.”

Alejo was very glad to have found his fortune so quickly. He took the purse from the old man, and, after thanking him for it, started for his home with lively spirits. Soon he reached the village. Before going home, however, he went to the house of his compadre and comadre, and related to them what he had found. They entertained him well; they drank and sang. While they all were feeling in good spirits, Alejo took out his magic purse to test it before his friends.

“Friends,” said Alejo, now somewhat drunk, “watch my purse!” at the same time pronouncing the words “Sopot, ua-ua sopot!” Then showers of silver coins dropped on the floor. When the couple saw this wonder, they thought at once that their friend was a magician. They coveted the purse. So they amused Alejo, gave him glass after glass of wine,—for he was a great drinker,—until finally he was dead-drunk. At last he was overcome by drowsiness, and the couple promptly provided him with a bed. Just as he fell asleep, the wife stealthily untied the purse from Alejo’s waist, and put in its place one of their own.

After a good nap of an hour or two, Alejo awoke. He thanked his friends for their kind reception and entertainment, and, after bidding them good-by, went to his own home. There he found his wife busy sewing by the fireside. He surprised her with his affectionate greeting. “My dear, lovely wife, be cheerful! Here I have found something useful,—a magic purse which will furnish us with money.”

“O you rogue!” she replied, “don’t bother me with your foolishness! How could you ever get anything useful? You are lying to me.”

“Believe me, my dear, I am telling the truth.”

“All right; prove it to me at once.”

“Call all out children, so that they may also see what I have found.” When all the children were called together, Alejo asked the purse for money, just as the old man had showed him how to ask; but no shower of coins dropped to the floor, for, as you know, it was not the magic purse. Barbara was so enraged, that she stormed at him with all the bitter words that can be imagined, and drove him from the house. Alejo was a tender-hearted, if lazy, husband, and it never occurred to him to beat his wife in turn. In fact, he loved her and his children very much.

He wandered away again in the direction of the place where he had met the old humpback. Here he found the old man, who said to him, “Where are you going, Alejo?”

“Guiloy, your purse did not prove to be any good.”

“Well, take this goat home with you. It will give you money if you ask for it. Whenever you want any money, just say these words: ‘Canding, pag coroquinanding!’ ”

Alejo gladly accepted the goat, and set out for home again. Again he passed by his friends’ house. There he stopped, and they entertained him as before: they drank, danced, and sang. Alejo told them about the virtues of his magic goat when he was feeling in a jovial mood; and when he fell asleep, they exchanged his beast for one of their own. After his nap, Alejo started home, his goat flung over his shoulder; but again, when he tried to demonstrate to his wife the magic powers of the goat, the animal did nothing, but stood looking as foolish as before Alejo spoke the words the old man had taught him. Barbara was more angry than ever, and, after railing at her husband, would have nothing more to do with him.

Alejo immediately left home to find the old man again. In a short time he met him. “How now, Alejo? What’s the matter?”

“Your magic goat would not obey my command,” said Alejo. “Try this table, then,” said the old man. “It will provide you with all kinds of delicious food and drink. Just say, ‘Tende la mesa!’ and all kinds of foods will be served you.”

Thanking the old man and bidding him good-by, Alejo shouldered the magic table and left. He was invited into his friends’ house as before, and was entertained by the deceitful couple. Alejo imparted to them the secret of his table. “Tende la mesa!” he said, and in the wink of an eye every kind of food you could wish for appeared on the table. They ate, and drank wine. Again Alejo drank so much, that soon he was asleep, and again the false couple played a trick on him: they exchanged his magic table for a common one of their own. When Alejo woke up, he hastened to his own home, carrying the table on his shoulder. He called his wife, and assured her that the table would provide them with every variety of food. Now, this was indeed good news to Barbara, so she called all their children about them. When every one was seated about the table, Alejo exclaimed, “Tende la mesa!”… You cannot imagine what blows, what pinches, what whips, Alejo received from his wife’s hands when not even a single grain of rice appeared on the table!

Alejo now felt greatly ashamed before his wife. He wondered why it was that when before his friends’ eyes the purse, the goat, and the table displayed their magic properties, they failed to display them before his wife. However, he did not give up hope. He immediately set out to seek the old man again. After a long wandering through the same woods and hills and along river-banks, he came to the place where he usually met him.

“Did the table prove good?” said the old man.

“No, Guiloy; so I have come here again.”

“Well, Alejo,” said the old man, “I pity you, indeed. Take this cane as my last gift. Be very careful in using it, for I have no other object to give you. The secret of this cane is this: if somebody has done you wrong, say to the cane, ‘Baston, pamordon!’ and then it will lash that person. There are no princes, kings, or emperors that it will not punish.”

Taking the cane and thanking the old man, Alejo hastily returned home. This time, when he reached the village, he did not pass by his friends’ house, but went directly home. He told his wife to go call in all their friends, relatives, and neighbors, for they were going to have a sort of banquet. At first Barbara was unwilling to do so, because she remembered how she had been deceived before; but at last Alejo persuaded her to do as he wished.

When all their friends, relatives, and neighbors were gathered in his house, Alejo shut all the doors and even the windows. Then he shouted to his magic cane, “Baston, pamordon!” and it at once began to lash all the people in the house, throwing them into great confusion. At last Alejo’s two friends, the deceitful couple, exclaimed almost in one voice, “Compadre, please stop, and we will give you back your magic purse, goat, and table.” When Alejo heard them say this, he was filled with joy, and commanded the cane to cease.

That very day the magic purse, goat, and table were returned to him by his compadre and comadre, and now Barbara realized that her husband’s wanderings had been profitable. The husband and wife became rich, and they lived many happy years together.