Juan Tamad and Other Philippine Folk Tales

One day, I started telling my ten-year-old nephew a story about Juan Tamad. I didn’t get far before he cut me in mid-sentence with the question, “Uncle, who is Juan Tamad?”. I thought he was joking. But he wasn’t. He really did not know who Juan was.

So I explained to my nephew who Juan was and told him a couple of stories about him. He was smiling when I finished telling the stories; I guess he liked them.

And I wondered to myself, “What do kids like my nephew read now if they don’t know who Juan Tamad is?” With the millions of websites on the Internet and the newer forms of entertainment (such as XBOX, PS3, and Wii) available today, maybe kids don’t read books anymore. At least not for entertainment, like we used to do.

So created this website with the hope that kids like my nephew would somehow find it and enjoy the stories about Juan and other Philippine folk tales like I did when I was a child.

So Who Is Juan Tamad?

Juan Tamad (Filipino for Lazy John) is a famous character in the Philippines who is noted for extreme laziness. Portrayed as a child in many stories, Juan is often described as lazy and, at the same time, stupid that he usually appeared as comic.

In one of the stories told about Juan, he came upon a guava tree bearing large ripe fruit. Juan, being too lazy to move to climb the tree, he lay down instead under the guava tree and let nature’s gravity drop the fruit. He remained there waiting for the tree to fall into his wide gaping mouth.

Now that you know who Juan is, you’re ready to read some Juan Tamad stories. Or, if you fancy, maybe some Philippine legends and Philippine fables. Happy reading!

Juan Tamad and the Guava Fruit

Another children’s favorite story of Juan Tamad and the guava fruit.

Once, while Juan Tamad was idly sitting around,
He noticed a nearly ripe guava
Hanging from a branch.

The rooster immediately urged Juan,
“Reach for the crisp fruit!”
“But my arm feels tired,” said Juan.
“I will just open my mouth
And wait for the fruit to fall!”

Several afternoons passed. Juan, open-mouthed,
Waited for his favorite fruit.
Until the guava became fully ripe.

Already full of craving, Juan stood up
And reached for the fruit. To his great surprise,
The guava was already full of holes.
“The Maya birds beat me to it!”

Juan Tamad and the Crab (Alimango)

This is a favorite Juan Tamad and the crab story.

Once, Lazy Juan was asked by
His mother to buy crabs.
Miraculously, Juan obeyed right away!

Even his rooster was amazed.
“What could Juan have eaten?
Could it be that my lazy friend
Has changed?”

Juan was lively, and was even swinging his arms
As he hurried towards the market.
“Can I buy some crabs?”
I want those with fleshy claws and lots of fat!”
The plump vendor chose the biggest ones
And tied then up well.

Juan was lively, and was even swinging his arms
As he hurried home,
Carrying the wriggling crabs.

From a distance, he could hear his friends playing
Near the riverbank. They were happily shouting
As they played with paper boats.

Juan wanted to join the fun.
“What about the crabs?” asked the rooster
“Crabs are smart,” said Juan.
“They can easily get to our place!
Don’t worry, I will carefully teach them
The way to our house.”

Juan released the crabs.
They quickly got into the water.
“See! They even found a shorter route!”

Lazy Juan played by the riverbank
Until it was noon.
His stomach was grumbling
As he hurried home.

“Where are the crabs, Juan?”
His mother was so angry.
“What took you so long? Where are the crabs?”

“I sent them home earlier, Mother.
Perhaps the crabs I bought were truants!”

Lazy Juan was so scared that he quickly hid
In their backyard. His rooster just shook its head and said:
“One can never rely on a lazy child.
It is better to be industrious than lazy!”

The First Banana Plant

The First Banana Plant is a Philippine folklore on the most cultivated herbaceous plant in Asia, the banana. From the story’s character Aging, “saging” was coined.

There once lived a couple in a village by the sea. They had a beautiful daughter named Juana. Under the loving care of her parents, Juana grew up and, because of her beauty, many suitors vied for her.

One of Juana’s suitors was a fellow named Aging. At first Juana and Aging were just friends. But friendship soon turned to love. Juana’s father came to know of the love affair. He told Juana not to entertain Aging. In spite of this, the two lovers found ways to see each other.

Early one evening Juana’s father arrived from the field where he had been working all day. To his surprise he saw Aging by the window of the house. The sight of Aging made the father angry. Quickly, he reached the window and, with his sharp bolo, he struck Aging on the arm. Down fell the arm of Aging. Then Aging rushed out of the house, followed by Juana who kept crying and calling Aging’s name at he same time.

Juana was not able to find Aging. After she had comforted herself, she went back to the house, took Aging’s Arm, and buried it in the yard.

The next morning Juana’s father went to the garden. What did he see? Near the spot where Juana buried Aging’s Arm, there was a small green plant pushing it self up. The plant had wide green leaves and yellow fruits shaped like clusters of fingers. He shouted in surprise. Then he called Juana to come down.

“ What plant is this?”  asked the father. “I’ve never seen one like it before!”. Upon seeing the plant, Juana remembered the arm she had buried on the spot the night before. The name of Aging kept lingering on her mind. Then Juana said, “That pant is Aging! It is the arm of Aging!”.

From that time on, the plant with clustered fruits came to be known as Aging, which was later changed to Saging.

Juan Tamad (Lazy John)

Juan Tamad or Lazy John is Philippine’s favorite collection of stories about a lazy boy, Juan.

Every day, in the morning, the whole town would hear Juan’s mother shouting. “Lazy Juan! Get uuuuup! Lazy Juan, it’s almost noon!”

Even if the sun was already up high, Juan would still be snoring in bed. He could not be relied on to work inside and outside their home. Whenever he was asked to do something, Juan would have an excuse. “My feet hurt, Mother,” he would say when asked to fetch water from the jar. “My hands are numb, “he would say when asked to wash dishes. So Juan would end up sitting around the whole afternoon.

Every afternoon, Juan would lie down under the tree and just gape around. “When will you change?”

Even their pet rooster would wonder. “Why are you so lazy, Juan?”

Source: Lampara Books (Manila, Philippines)

The Legend of Sampaloc Lake

San Pablo, a picturesque and progressive city in Southeastern Luzon, is sometimes known as the city of the seven lakes. All the seven lakes are rich with tales about thier respective origin. A favorite story is that Sampaloc Lake – the largest and most beautiful of the seven lakes.

Once upon a time there lived in the northern side of San Pablo a well-to-do but childless couple. They had a large garden of tamarind trees which bore the sweetest fruits in all the land. Many people from far and wide heard of the tamarind trees. And many of them wanted to taste the sweet tamarind fruits.

The couple felt very proud of their rich possession. They built a fence around their yard so that no strangers would pick any of the tamarind fruits. Just ti make sure no one could enter their yard, they placed a big watchdog to guard it

God wanted to test the hospitality of the couple. And so, one day a fairy, disguised as an old beggar bent and wrinkled by age, approached the couple’s garden begged for some fruits.

“Please give me some tamarind fruit. I am hungry!” The old woman pleaded.

The couple did not even look at the old woman.

“Begone! We don’t want to give any of our tamarind fruit away!” replied the couple angrily.

“Please, I am so hungry, and a fruit or two will satisfy me,” the old beggar insisted. “I know your tamarind trees are laden with most delicious fruits.”

Then, without any further ado, the old woman came near one of the large trees. She stretched out her wrinkled, skinny hand to pluck a curly thick pod hanging from one of the lower branches.
Upon seeing what the old beggar had done, the couple grew angry. They became so angry that they hurried back to their house, let their big dog loose, and set it on the poor woman. Alas the poor old woman was badly bitten.

Patiently, the old beggar bore her pain. But before turning away from that inhospitable spot, she touched the tamarind tree and, looking at the couple, said, “You shall be punished for your selfishness.” Then she went slowly on her way.

Even before the old woman was out of sight, thesky became overcast. In a short while a terrible storm broke out, and heavy rain fell through the night.

The following morning all was peaceful. The man and his wife went out for their daily round as usual. They had hardly taken a few steps when, to their surprise, instead of the tall and green tamarind trees, there stretched before their unbelieving eyes a vast expanse of water shining in the morning sun.

Still unconvinced about what had happened, the couple went forward up to the bank of what now appeared to be a natural lake. And, wonder of wonders, they saw through the transparent water the dark mass of tamarind trees still rooted to the suken ground.

From that day on, the place became known as “Sampaloc Lake” – sampaloc being the Tagalog word for tamarind. Nowadays Sampaloc Lake is a tourist spot to which many lovers of nature. both young and old, go in order to admire the splendor and beauty.

The Kind Deer

A big lion got trapped under a heavy trunk of a tree and could hardly move. A deer that was passing by saw him, the deer was afraid of him but it was so kind-hearted that it decided it help him get out of the heavy trunk.

It scratched the soil around vigorously, then the soil under his body. After a long while, the lion was freed but he could not move easily because some parts of his body were painful. He then asked the deer to accompany him to his cave, and there, he promised to give the deer some food as a sign of his gratitude.

The deer simply smiled at him and said it didn’t want to try its luck any further. It was enough for the deer that he was in pain and could not kill it.

The deer left.

Source: Book of Fables 2
Prepared by: Pablo D. Baltazar
Edited by: Ofelia E. Concepcion
Copyright 2004
Juneecon Enterprises