Philippine Folk Tales | Annotated Tale

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Story of Dumalawi, The

APONITOLAU and Aponibolinayen had a son whose name was Dumalawi. [1] When the son had become a young man, his father one day was very angry with him, and tried to think of some way in which to destroy him. The next morning he said to Dumalawi:

               "Son, sharpen your knife, and we will go to the forest to cut some bamboo."

               So Dumalawi sharpened his knife and went with his father to the place where the bamboo grew, and they cut many sticks and sharpened them like spears at the end.

               Dumalawi wondered why they made them thus, but when they had finished, Aponitolau said:

               "Now, Son, you throw them at me, so that we can see which is the braver."

               "No, Father," answered Dumalawi. "You throw first, if you want to kill me."

               So Aponitolau threw the bamboo sticks one by one at his son, but he could not hit him. Then it was the son's turn to throw, but he said:

               "No, I cannot. You are my father, and I do not want to kill you."

               So they went home. But Dumalawi was very sorrowful, for he knew now that his father wanted to destroy him. When his mother called him to dinner he could not eat.

               Although he had been unsuccessful in his first attempt, Aponitolau did not give up the idea of getting rid of his son, and the next day he said:

               "Come, Dumalawi, we will go to our little house in the field [2] and repair it, so that it will be a protection when the rainy season sets in."

               The father and son went together to the field, and when they reached the little house, Aponitolau, pointing to a certain spot in the ground, said:

               "Dig there, and you will find a jar of basi [3] which I buried when I was a boy. It will be very good to drink now."

               Dumalawi dug up the jar and they tasted the wine, and it was so pleasing to them that they drank three cocoanut shells full, and Dumalawi became drunk. While his son lay asleep on the ground, Aponitolau decided that this was a good time to destroy him, so he used his magical power and there arose a great storm which picked up Dumalawi in his sleep and carried him far away. And the father went home alone.

               Now when Dumalawi awoke, he was in the middle of a field so wide that whichever way he looked, he could not see the end. There were neither trees nor houses in the field and no living thing except himself. And he felt a great loneliness.

               By and by he used his magical power, and many betel-nuts grew in the field, and when they bore fruit it was covered with gold,

               "This is good," said Dumalawi, "for I will scatter these betel-nuts and they shall become people, [4] who will be my neighbors."

               So in the middle of the night he cut the gold-covered betel-nuts into many small pieces which he scattered in all directions. And in the early morning, when he awoke, he heard many people talking around the house, and many roosters crowed. Then Dumalawi knew that he had companions, and upon going out he walked about where the people were warming themselves [5] by fires in their yards, and he visited them all.

               In one yard was a beautiful maiden, Dapilisan, and after Dumalawi had talked with her and her parents, he went on to the other yards, but she was ever in his thoughts. As soon as he had visited all the people, he returned to the house of Dapilisan and asked her parents if he might marry her. They were unwilling at first, for they feared that the parents of Dumalawi might not like it; but after he had explained that his father and mother did not want him, they gave their consent, and Dapilisan became his bride.

               Soon after the marriage they decided to perform a ceremony [6] for the spirits. So Dapilisan sent for the betel-nuts which were covered with gold, [7] and when they were brought to her, she said:

               "You betel-nuts that are covered with gold, come here and oil yourselves and go and invite all the people in the world to come to our ceremony."

               So the betel-nuts oiled themselves and went to invite the people in the different towns.

               Soon after this Aponibolinayen, the mother of Dumalawi, sat alone in her house, still mourning the loss of her son, when suddenly she was seized with a desire to chew betel-nut.

               "What ails me?" she said to herself; "why do I want to chew? I had not intended to eat anything while Dumalawi was away."

               So saying, she took down her basket that hung on the wall, and saw in it a betel-nut covered with gold, and when she was about to cut it, it said:

               "Do not cut me, for I have come to invite you to the ceremony which Dumalawi and his wife are to make."

               Aponibolinayen was very happy, for she knew now that her son still lived, and she told all the people to wash their hair and prepare to go to the rite. So they washed their clothes and their hair and started for the home of Dumalawi; and Aponitolau, the father of the boy, followed, but he looked like a crazy man. When the people reached the river near the town, Dumalawi sent alligators to take them across, but when Aponitolau got on the alligator's back it dived, and he was thrown back upon the bank of the river. All the others were carried safely over, and Aponitolau, who was left on the bank alone, shouted as if crazy until Dumalawi sent another alligator to carry him across.

               Then Dumalawi had food brought [8] and Dapilisan passed basi in a little jar that looked like a fist, [9] and though each guest drank a cupful of the sweet wine the little jar was still a third full. After they had eaten and drunk, Aponibolinayen spoke, and, telling all the people that she was glad to have Dapilisan for a daughter-in-law, added:

               "Now we are going to pay the marriage price [10] according to our custom. We shall fill the spirit house [11] nine times with different kinds of jars."

               Then she called, "You spirits [12] who live in different springs, get the jars which Dumalawi must pay as a marriage price for Dapilisan,"

               The spirits did as they were commanded, and when they brought the jars and had filled the spirit house nine times, Aponibolinayen said to the parents of Dapilisan:

               "I think that now we have paid the price for your daughter."

               But Dalonagan, the mother of Dapilisan, was not satisfied, and said:

               "No, there is still more to pay."

               "Very well," replied Aponibolinayen. "Tell us what it is and we will pay it."

               Then Dalonagan called a pet spider and said:

               "You big spider, go all around the town, and as you go spin a thread [13] on which Aponibolinayen must string golden beads." So the spider spun the thread and Aponibolinayen again called to the spirits of the springs, and they brought golden beads which they strung on the thread. Then Dalonagan hung on the thread, and when it did not break she declared that the debt was all paid.

               After this the people feasted and made merry, and when at last they departed for home Dumalawi refused to go with his parents, but remained with his wife in the town he had created.





[1] Preface, p. vii.

[2] It is the custom to have a small bamboo house built from fifteen to twenty feet from the ground near the rice fields, and in this someone watches every day during the growing season to see that nothing breaks in to destroy the grain. Often flappers are placed in different parts of the field and a connecting string leads from these to the little house, so that the watcher by pulling this string may frighten the birds away from the grain.

[3] See note 1, p. 18. [A drink made of fermented sugar-cane.]

[4] Preface, p. vi.

[5] The nights in the mountains are cold, and it is not at all uncommon in the early morning to see groups of people with blankets wrapped tightly about them, squatting around small fires in the yards.

[6] See note 2, p. 12. [It is the present custom of the Tinguian to make numerous ceremonies for the spirits. These vary in length from a few hours to seventeen days. During this period animals are slaughtered, small houses are built, mediums deliver messages from the spirits, and there is much feasting and dancing.]


[7] See note 1, p. 13. [When ripe, the betel-nut is covered with a golden husk, and it is possibly because of this that they were said to be covered with gold. The present-day Tinguian, in place of sending the betel-nut, sends a small piece of gold to any relative or friend whom he specially wishes to induce to attend a ceremony.]

[8] See note 1, p. 17. [The custom, which still exists to a certain degree, was to offer food to a guest before any matter was discussed. In ancient times this was considered very necessary, as it still is among the Apayao who live north of the Tinguian. With them to refuse food is to refuse friendship.]

[9] Compare with the biblical story of the loaves and fishes. For similar incidents among the Igorot of the Philippines, in Borneo, and in India, see Jenks, The Bontoc Igorot, p. 202; Seidenadel, The Language of the Bontoc Igorot, pp. 491, 41 ff. (Chicago, 1909); Roth, The Natives of Sarawak and British North Borneo, Vol. I, p. 319; Tawney, Katha Sarit Sagara, Vol. II, p. 3 (Calcutta, 1880); Bezemer, Volksdichtung aus Indonesien, p. 49 (Haag, 1904).

[10] See note 1, p. 15. [The parents of a boy choose his bride when the children are very young. A great celebration is then held, and relatives and friends of both parties decide on the price to be paid for the girl. Partial payment is made at once, and the remainder goes over until the marriage proper takes place, when the boy and girl are about twelve or fourteen years of age. In this instance Ini-init makes the customary payment for his bride, though the marriage had already taken place.]


[11] See note 3, p. 15. [A spirit house is one of the small houses built during a ceremony.]

[12] There appear to have been two classes of spirits, one for whom the people had the utmost respect and reverence, and another whom they looked upon as being of service to mortals.


[13] See note 1, p. 30. [Stories in which animals come to the assistance of human beings are found in many lands. One of those best known to Europeans is where the ants sort the grain for Cinderella.]

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Story of Dumalawi, The
Tale Author/Editor: Cole, Mabel Cook
Book Title: Philippine Folk Tales
Book Author/Editor: Cole, Mabel Cook
Publisher: Curtis Brown
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1916
Country of Origin: Philippines
Classification: unclassified

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