Juan Manalaksan

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.” When Juan had received the glass, he hurried back home.

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,1 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.

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