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Full Online Book HomeShort StoriesHow Lansones Became Edible
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How Lansones Became Edible Post by :imported_n/a Category :Short Stories Author :Dean S. Fansler Date :November 2011 Read :2362

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How Lansones Became Edible

Narrated by Francisco M. Africa.


Once upon a time the fruit of the lansone-tree was very poisonous. Its very juice could make a man sick with leprosy. One day a very religious old man was passing through a forest to attend the fiesta of the neighboring town. When he reached the middle of the thick wood, he became very hungry and tired, and he felt that he could go no farther. No matter where he looked, he could see nothing but the poisonous lansone-trees. So he lay down on the soft grass. Hardly a moment had passed, when a winged being from heaven approached him, and said, "My good Christian pilgrim, take some of these lansone-fruits, eat them, and you will be much relieved." At first the old man would not do it, but the angel picked some of the fruits and handed them to the pilgrim. He then ate, and soon his hunger was removed. After thanking Heaven, he continued on his journey. Ever since this time, lansones have been good to eat. All the fruits still bear the marks of the angel's fingers.


Notes.

The lanson (Lansium domesticum) is a small tree of Malaysia, extensively cultivated for its fruit, which resembles a yellow plum (from E. Ind. lansa). It is not native to the Philippines, and was probably introduced into the Islands by the Malays in prehistoric times. Our story, which I think we must consider not imported, is based on a fancied etymological connection between lanson and lason (Tag. for "poison"), and does not appear to be known except to the Tagalogs of La Laguna province, although in Pampango also the word lason means "poison." Lason itself is derived from the Malay rachun, perhaps through the Sulu lachun.

Two other Tagalog versions, both from Laguna province, also show the influence of Christianity, but vary enough from our story to be worthy of record here. One, related by Manuel Gallego of San Antonio, Nueva Ecija, is entitled "The Adam and Eve of the Tagalogs." Mr. Gallego heard the story from a farmer living in Lubang, La Laguna. It runs as follows:--

Many hundreds of years ago, when Luzon was still uninhabited, Bathala, our supreme god, was envious of Laon, the god of the Visayans, because Laon had many subjects, while Bathala's kingdom was a barren desert. It was within the power of Bathala to create human beings, but not food for them; and so he asked for advice from Diwata, the supreme god of the universe.

Diwata told Bathala that the next day he would send an angel to earth with seeds to be planted. The promise was fulfilled, and Bathala scattered the seeds all over Luzon. Within a short time the island was covered with trees and shrubs, and was then ready for human habitation. Accordingly Bathala created Adam and Eve, the ancestors of the Tagalogs. In spite of the fact that they were forbidden to eat the green fruit of a certain plant, they disobeyed and ate it; so, as a punishment, they were poisoned and made very sick. They did not die, however. As a result of their experience, they gave the name lason ("poison") to this plant. Conscious of their fault, Adam and Eve implored forgiveness of Diwata. By order of Diwata, Bathala forgave the criminals; but the lason still remained poisonous. In order to rid it of its dangerous properties, an angel was sent to earth. He put the marks of his finger-nails on the surface of the pulp of each lason-seed, and these marks may be seen to this day. Afterwards the name of the plant was changed from lason to lanzon, the name by which it has been known ever since.


In the other Tagalog version, narrated by Eulogio Benitez of Pagsanjan, La Laguna, the incident of the finger-prints is told as a local saint-legend of Paete. The story is entitled "How Lanzones became Edible."

The little town of Paete, on the southern and western shore of Laguna de Bay, produces more lanzones than any other town in the province. Steamers call daily at her wharves for the fruits which have made her famous. In the church of this town may still be seen the image of the mother of God, the Virgin Mary, leading her child.

One evening a long time ago it was discovered that the beautiful image was missing from its accustomed place in the church. The news spread like wildfire, and all the people were in great amazement and consternation. While all was confusion in the town, a heavenly sight was being presented in a little place outside the municipality. A beautiful woman dressed in white was walking over the grass with a child in her arms. They were going towards a lanzon-tree on the other side of the meadow. The boy, who was evidently tired of being carried, asked to be put down. When the child saw the fruits scattered all over the ground, he felt very thirsty, and, picking up one of the tempting fruits, began to open it. The mother told her son that the fruit was poisonous; but the child said that he was very thirsty, and could go no farther if he did not have a drink. Then the mother took the fruit from his hands, and with her delicate white fingers pinched the pulp gently. Turning to her son, she said, "Now you may take this and eat it. You will find it the most delicious and refreshing of all fruits." The child obeyed, and the fruit was indeed sweet.

This is the way by which the lanzones were transformed from a poisonous, dangerous fruit to a sweet, delicate food. If any one discredits this story, all he needs to do to prove its truth is to open up any lanzon he finds, and he will see without fall the finger-prints of the Virgin.


(The end)
Dean S. Fansler's short story: How Lansones Became Edible

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