Juan and the Buringcantada

A long time ago, when the Bicols had not yet been welded into one tribe, there lived a couple in the mountains of Albay who had one son, named Juan. Before the boy was five years old, his father died. As Juan grew up, he became very lazy: he did not like to work, nor would he help his mother earn their daily bread. Despite his laziness, Juan was dearly loved by his mother. She did not want him to work in the field under the hot sun. Because of his mother’s indulgence, he grew lazier and lazier.

Every afternoon Juan used to take a walk while his mother was working. She was a kind-hearted woman, and often told her son to help anybody he met that needed help. One afternoon, while he was walking in a field, he saw two carabaos fighting. One was gored by the other, and was about to die. Juan, mindful of what his mother told him, went between the two animals to help the wounded one. Suddenly the two animals gored him in the back, and he fell to the ground. A man, passing by, found him, and took him to his home. When Juan’s mother learned why her son had been gored, she was greatly distressed that her son was so foolish.

Juan soon recovered, and one day he invited his mother to go with him to look for money. He insisted so hard, that finally she agreed to accompany him. On their way they found an axe, which Juan picked up and took along with him. They had not gone much farther, when they saw a long rope stretching across the road. Juan’s mother did not want him to take it, but he said that it would be of some use to them later. By and by they came to a river, on the bank of which they found a large drum. Juan took this with him, too.

When they had been travelling about a week, they came upon a big house. Juan said that he wanted to go see what was in the house, but his mother told him that he should not go. However, he kept urging and urging, until at last his mother consented, and went with him. When they reached the hall, they found it well decorated with flowers and leaves. They visited all the apartments of the house; and when they came to the dining-room, they saw a large hole in the ceiling. Juan told his mother that they had better hide in the ceiling until they found out who the owner of the house was. The mother thought that the plan was a wise one; so they went to the ceiling, taking with them the axe, the rope, and the drum.

They had not been hiding many minutes, when the Buringcantada, a giant with one eye in the middle of his forehead and with two long tusks that projected from the sides of his mouth, came in with his friends and servants. When the dinner was ready, the servant called his master and his guests into the dining-room. While they were eating, Juan said in a loud voice,—

“Tawi cami

Sa quisami

Qui masiram

Na ulaman.”

The Buringcantada was very angry to hear the voice of a man in the ceiling, and he said in a thundering voice, “If you are a big man like me, let me see one of your hairs!”

Juan showed the rope from the hole in the ceiling.

Astonished at the size of the hair, the Buringcantada said again, “Let me see one of your teeth!” Juan showed the axe.

By this time Juan’s mother was almost dead with fear, and she told her son not to move.

After a few minutes the Buringcantada said again, “Beat your stomach, and let me hear the sound of it!” When Juan beat the drum, the Buringcantada and all the guests and servants ran away in fright, for they had never heard such a sound before.

Then Juan and his mother came down from the ceiling. In this house they lived like a rich family, for they found much money in one of the rooms. As for the Buringcantada, he never came back to his house after he left it.

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