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Juan And His Adventures Post by :Chris_J Category :Short Stories Author :Dean S. Fansler Date :November 2011 Read :1762

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Juan And His Adventures

Narrated by José Ma. Katigbak, a Tagalog from Lipa, Batangas. He heard the story from Angel Reyes, another Batangueño.

Once in a certain village there lived a couple who had three daughters. This family was very poor at first. Near the foot of a mountain was growing a tree with large white leaves. (64) Pedro the father earned their living by selling the leaves of that tree. In time he got so much money from them that he a ordered a large house to be built. Then they left their old home, and went to live in the new house. The father kept on selling the leaves. After a year he decided to cut down the tree, so that he could sell it all at once and get much money. So he went to the foot of the mountain one day, and cut the tree down. As soon as the trunk had crashed to the ground, a large snake came out from the stump. Now, this snake was an enchanter, and was the friend of the kings of the lions, eagles, and fishes, as we shall see.

The snake said to Pedro, "I gave you the leaves of this tree to sell; and now, after you have gotten much money from it, you cut it down. There is but one suitable punishment for you: within three days you must bring all your daughters here and give them to me." The man was so astonished at first, that he did not know what to do. He made no reply, and after a few minutes went home. His sadness was so great that he could not even eat. His wife and daughters, noticing his depression, asked him what he was thinking about. At first he did not want to tell them; but they urged and begged so incessantly, that finally he was forced to do so.

He said to them, "To-day I cut down the tree where I got the leaves which I sold. A snake came out from the stump, and told me that I should bring you three girls to him or we should all die."

"Don't worry, father! we will go there with you," said the three daughters.

The next day they prepared to go to the snake. Their parents wept very much. Each of the three girls gave her mother a handkerchief as a remembrance. After they had bidden good-by, they set out on their journey with their father.

As soon as they reached the foot of the mountain, the three daughters disappeared at once, and the poor father returned home cheerless. A year had not passed by before a son was born to the old couple. They named him Juan. When the boy was about eighteen years old, his mother showed him the handkerchiefs of his sisters.

"Have I any sister?" said Juan to his mother.

"Yes, you have three; but they were taken away by a snake," she told him. Juan was so angry, that he asked his parents to give him permission to go in search of his sisters. At first they hesitated, but at last they gave him leave. So, taking the three handkerchiefs with him, Juan set out, and went to the mountain.

After travelling for more than ten days, Juan came across three boys quarrelling over the possession of a cap, a pair of sandals, and a key. He went near them, and asked them why they all wanted those three things. The boys told him that the cap would make the person who wore it invisible, the sandals would give their owner the power to fly, and that the key would open any door it touched.

Juan told the three boys that it would be better for them to give him those articles than to quarrel about them; and the boys agreed, because they did not want either of the others to have them. So Juan put the key in his pocket, the cap on his head, and the sandals on his feet, and flew away. After he had passed over many mountains, he descended. Near the place where he alighted he saw a cave. He approached its mouth, and opened the door with his key. Inside he saw a girl sitting near a window. He went up to her and took off his cap.

"Who are you?" said the girl, startled.

"Aren't you my sister?" said Juan.

"I have no brother," said the lady, but she was surprised to see the handkerchiefs which Juan showed her. After he had told her his story, she believed that he was really her brother.

"You had better hide," said the lady, holding Juan's hand, "for my husband is the king of the lions, and he may kill you if he finds you here."

Not long afterwards the lion appeared. She met him at the door. "You must have some visitors here," said the lion, sniffing the air with wide-open nostrils.

"Yes," answered the lady, "my brother is here, and I hid him, for I feared that you might kill him."

"No, I will not kill him," said the lion. "Where is he?" Juan came out and shook hands with the lion. After they had talked for a few hours, Juan said that he would go to look for his other sisters. The lion told him that they lived on the next two mountains.

Juan did not have much trouble in finding his other two sisters. Their husbands were the kings of the fishes and the eagles, and they received him kindly. Juan's three brothers-in-law loved him very much, and promised to aid him whenever he needed their help.

Juan now decided to return home and tell his parents where his three sisters were; but he took another way back. He came to a town where all the people were dressed in black, and the decorations of the houses were of the same color. He asked some people what had happened in that town. They told him that a princess was lost, and that he who could bring her back to the king should receive her hand in marriage and also half the property of the king. Juan then went to the king and promised to restore his daughter to him. The king agreed to reward him as the townspeople had said, if he should prove successful.

Early the next morning Juan, with his cap, sandals, and key, set out to look for the princess. After a two-days' journey he came to a mountain. Here he descended and began to look around. Finally he saw a huge rock, in which he found a small hole. He put the key in it, and the rock flew open. With his cap of invisibility on his head, he entered. There within he saw many ladies, who were confined in separate rooms. In the very last apartment he found the princess with a giant beside her. He went near the room of the princess, and opened the door with his key. The walls of all the rooms were like those of a prison, and were made of iron bars. Juan approached the princess, and remained near her until the giant went away.

As soon as the monster was out of sight, Juan took off his cap. The princess was surprised to see him, but he told her that he had come to take her away. She was very glad, but said that they had better wait for the giant to go away before they started. After a few minutes the giant went out to take a walk. When they saw that he had passed through the main door, they went out also. Juan put on his sandals and flew away with the princess. But when they were very near the king's palace, the princess disappeared: she was taken back by the giant's powerful magic. Juan was very angry, and he returned at once to the giant's cave. He succeeded in opening the main door, but he could not enter. After struggling in vain for about an hour, he at last determined to go to his brothers-in-law for help.

When he had explained what he wanted, the king of the eagles said to him, "Juan, the life and power of the giant are in a little box at the heart of the ocean. No one can get that box except the king of the fishes, and no one can open it except the king of the lions. The life of the giant is in a little bird which is inside the box. This bird flies very swiftly, and I am the only one who can catch it. The strength of the giant is in a little egg which is in the box with the bird."

When the king of the eagles had finished his story, Juan went to the king of the fishes. "Will you fetch me the box which contains the life and strength of the giant?" said Juan to the king of the fishes. After asking him many questions, his brother-in-law swam away, and soon returned with the box. When Juan had received it from him, he thanked him and went to the king of the lions.

The king of the lions willingly opened the box for him. As soon as the box was opened, the little bird inside flew swiftly away. Juan took the egg, however, and went back to the king of the eagles, and asked him to catch the bird. After the little bird had been caught, Juan pushed on to the cave of the giant. When he came there, he opened the door and entered, holding the bird in one hand and the egg in the other. Enraged at the sight of Juan, the giant rushed at him; and Juan was so startled, that he crushed the egg and killed the bird. At once the giant fell on his back, and stretched out his legs to rise no more.

Juan now went through the cave, opening all the prison doors, and releasing the ladies. He carried the princess with him back to the palace. As soon as he arrived, a great celebration was held, and he was married to the princess. After the death of the king, Juan became ruler. He later visited his parents, and told them of all his adventures. Then he took them to his own kingdom, where they lived happily together.


A Tagalog variant of this story, entitled "Pedro and the Giants," and narrated by José Hilario from Batangas, runs thus in abstract:--

Two orphan sisters living with their brother Pedro are stolen by two powerful giants. Pedro goes in search of his sisters, and finds them. Contrary to the expectations of all, the two grim brothers-in-law welcome Pedro, and offer to serve him. Pedro later wishes to marry a princess, and the giants demand her of the king her father. He refuses to give her up, although she falls in love with Pedro. To punish his daughter, the king exposes her to the hot sun: but one of the giants shades her with his eagle-like wings. Then the other giant threatens the king; but the monarch says he is safe, for his life is contained in two eggs in an iron box guarded by two clashing rocks. With great personal risk the giant obtains the eggs; and, upon the king's still refusing to give his daughter to Pedro, the giant dashes the eggs to the ground, and the king falls dead. Pedro and the princess are then married.

This analogue of our story is not very close in details, yet there are enough general resemblances between the two to make it pretty certain that they are distantly related.

Our story of "Juan and his Adventures" belongs to the "Animal Brothers-in-Law" cycle, a formula for which Von Hahn (1 : 53) enumerates the following incidents:--

A Three princes who have been transformed into animals marry the sisters of the hero.

B The hero visits his three brothers-in-law.

C They help him perform tasks.

D They are disenchanted by him.

As Crane says (p. 60), this formula varies, of course. Sometimes there are but two sisters (cf. our variant), and the brothers-in-law are freed from their enchantment in some other way than by the hero. For a bibliography of this group, see Crane, 342-343, note 23, to No. 13.

Perhaps the best version of this story is that found in Basile, 4 : 3, the argument of which, as given in Burton's translation (2 : 372), runs thus:--

Ciancola, son of the King of Verde-colle, fareth to seek his three sisters, married one with a falcon, another with a stag, and the other with a dolphin; after long journeying he findeth them, and on his return homewards he cometh upon the daughter of a king, who is held prisoner by a dragon within a tower, and calling by signs which had been given him by the falcon, stag, and dolphin, all three came before him ready to help him, and with their aid he slayeth the dragon, and setteth free the princess, whom he weddeth, and together they return to his realm.

This argument does not quite do justice to the similarities between Basile's story and ours. For instance, in the Italian story, when the daughters leave, they give their mother three identical rings as tokens. Then a son is born to the queen. When he is fifteen years old, he sets out to look for his sisters, taking the rings with him. Nor, again, does this argument mention the fact that in the end the animal brothers-in-law are transformed into men,--a feature which is found in Basile, but not in our story. In the main, however, it will be seen that the two are very close. In Von Hahn, No. 25, the brothers-in-law are a lion, a tiger, and an eagle.

The opening of our story, so far as I know, is not found in any of the other members of this cycle. Usually the sisters are married to the animals in consequence of a king's decision to give his daughters to the first three persons who pass by his palace after a certain hour (Crane, No. XIII); or else the animals present themselves as suitors after the death of the king, who has charged his sons to see that their sisters are married (Von Hahn, No. 25; compare the opening of Wratislaw No. XLI = Wuk, No. 17). In our story, however, Pedro is deprived of his daughters in consequence of his greed. With this situation compare the "Maha-vanija-jataka," No. 493, which tells how some merchants find a magic banyan-tree. From this tree the merchants receive wonderful gifts; but they are insatiable, and finally plan to cut it down to see if there is not large treasure at the roots. The guardian-spirit of the tree, the serpent-king, punishes them. It is not impossible that some such parable as this lies behind the introduction to our story. There is abundant testimony from early travellers in the Islands that the natives in certain sections regarded trees as sacred, and could not be hired to cut them down for fear of offending the resident-spirit. The three handkerchiefs which the sisters leave with their mother as mementos are to be compared with the three rings in Basile's version. In a Serbian story belonging to this cycle (Wuk, No. 5), the three sisters are blown away by a strong wind (cf. our story of "Alberto and the Monsters," No. 39), and fall into the power of three dragons. When the brother, yet unborn at the time of their disappearance, reaches his eighteenth year, he sets out to seek his sisters, taking with him a handkerchief of each.

The obtaining of magic articles by a trick of the hero is found in many folk-tales. In Grimm, No. 197, which is distantly related to our story, the hero cheats two giants out of a wishing-cap over which they are quarrelling. In Grimm, No. 92, where we find the same situation, the magic articles are three,--a sword which will make heads fly off, a cloak of invisibility, a pair of transportation-boots (see Bolte-Polívka, 2 : 320 f., especially 331-335). In Grimm, No. 193, a flying saddle is similarly obtained. In Crane, No. XXXVI (p. 136 f.), Lionbruno acquires a pair of transportation-boots, an inexhaustible purse, and a cloak of invisibility. This incident is also found in Somadeva (Tawney, 1 : 14), where the articles are a pair of flying-shoes, a magic staff which writes what is going to happen, and a vessel which can supply any food the owner asks for. In another Oriental collection (Sagas from the Far East, pp. 23-24), the prince and his follower secure a cap of invisibility from a band of quarrelling boys, and a pair of transportation-boots from some disputing demons. Compare Tawney's note for other instances. This incident is also found in an Indian story by Stokes, No. XXII, "How the Raja's Son won the Princess Labam." In this the hero meets four fakirs, whose teacher (and master) has died, and has left four things,--"a bed which carried whosoever sat on it whithersoever he wished to go; a bag that gave its owner whatever he wanted,--jewels, food, or clothes; a stone bowl which gave its owner as much water as he wanted; and a stick that would beat enemies, and a rope that would tie them up." Compare also the "Dadhi-vahana-jataka," No. 186, which is connected with our No. 27. In the Filipino story of "Alberto and the Monsters" (No. 39) the hero acquires a transportation-boot from two quarrelling boys; from two young men, a magic key that will unlock any stone; and from two old men wrangling over it, a hat of invisibility. In another Tagalog story, "Ricardo and his Adventures" (notes to No. 49), appears a flying saddle, but this is not obtained by trickery.

For the "Fee-fi-fo-fum" formula hinted at in our story, see Bolte-Polívka, 1 : 289-292.

In many of the members of this cycle, when the hero takes his leave of his brothers-in-law, he is given feathers, hair, scales, etc., with which he can summon them in time of need. In our story, however, Juan has no such labor-saving device: he has to visit his brothers a second time when he desires aid against the giant.

The last part of our story turns on the idea of the "separable soul or strength" of the dragon, snake, demon, giant, or other monster. This idea has been fully discussed by Macculloch (chapter V). As this conception is widespread in the Orient and is found in Malayan literature (e.g., in "Bidasari"), there is no need of tracing its occurrence in the Philippines to Europe. In the norm of this cycle, the animal brothers-in-law help the hero perform tasks which the king requires all suitors for his daughter's hand to perform. Here the beasts help the hero secure the life and strength of the giant who is holding the princess captive.

Taken as a whole, our story seems to have been imported into the Philippines from the Occident, for the reason that no Oriental analogues of it appear to exist, while not a few are known from southern Europe. Our two variants are from the Tagalog province of Batangas, and, so far as I know, the story is not found elsewhere in the Islands. As suggested above, however, the introduction is probably native, or at least very old, and the conclusion has been modified by the influence of another cycle well known in the Orient.



(64) These were the leaves of a plant which the Tagalogs call Colis.

(The end)
Dean S. Fansler's short story: Juan And His Adventures

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