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Turtle and Monkey

Turtle and Monkey
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Turtle and Monkey

A Filipino folk tale told by David Heathfield


Monkey stood at the edge of the river and watched Turtle swimming against the torrent with a tree that he had caught in the flood: a young tree.

‘Oh, Monkey, I have caught a banana tree. Monkey, will you help me to drag it to the clearing and plant it? It will grow and there will be sweet bananas.’

Turtle pulled the tree by its heavy end – the roots and the trunk – across the ground. Monkey carried just a couple of green fronds from the top end of the tree.

Lazy Monkey.

When Turtle wasn’t looking, Monkey jumped onto the fronds.
Monkey nimble, Monkey quick, Monkey play a monkey trick – and was pulled along by Turtle to the clearing.

Turtle made a hole. He pulled the tree down into the hole and pressed the earth down around it. ‘Soon it will grow, Monkey. We will tend the tree together. We will water it. We will weed around it. We will share the bananas.’

‘Share the tree,’ said Monkey. ‘Very well.’ And Monkey climbed half way up the tree, just below where the green fronds grew, and with his strong hands he broke off the top of the tree and ran away with it, laughing.

He pressed his half, the top half, into the damp earth. Soon he would have bananas, he thought.

Turtle tended the bottom half of the tree. There was no green.
Turtle wisdom, Turtle slow, Turtle knows what turtles know.

Time passed, and the bottom half of the tree began to green up. Fronds appeared and green bananas began to grow.

Monkey, with the top half of the tree, had green fronds that wilted and died. There was nothing.

Turtle worked hard around his tree, weeding it and watering it, and now big, long, yellow bananas were hanging down in bunches.

‘Oh, Monkey, won’t you help me? Climb the tree and pick the bananas. I cannot climb the tree.’

Monkey nimble, Monkey quick, Monkey play a monkey trick – up the tree he went to the top, and there he picked one banana and peeled it and ate the delicious fruit. He tossed down the skin so it struck Turtle upon his shell.

Monkey took another banana and ate it, tossing the skin down upon the shell of Turtle. Banana after banana...

Monkey nimble, Monkey quick, Monkey play a monkey trick.

But Turtle, without Monkey noticing, went and fetched thorns and placed them around the trunk of the banana tree...

Turtle wisdom, Turtle slow, Turtle knows what turtles know.

When Monkey had finished and was fat, had eaten all of the yellow bananas, he jumped down from the tree... ‘Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow!’

The thorns stuck in the bottom of his feet as he ran. He sat down and he pulled the thorns from his feet and he was full of anger. He ran and quickly, quickly caught Turtle.

‘I am going to carry you to the cliffs and dash you down upon the rocks so your shell breaks! I’m going to take you to the top of the mountain of fire and throw you into the flames!’

‘Yes, yes, said Turtle, throw me into the flames! Yes, dash me from the cliff onto the rocks! But whatever you do, Monkey, don’t throw me into the torrent of the river.’

‘Ah, that’s what you’re afraid of,’ said Monkey.

Monkey ran, carrying Turtle to the edge of the river, and tossed him high into the air. Turtle landed with a splash in the deep waters and sank down... and then rose to the surface.

Turtle relaxes‘Oh, Monkey, don’t you know that Turtles love to swim in the river.’

Turtle wisdom, Turtle slow, Turtle knows what turtles know.

But what of the banana tree?

The Turtle and the Monkey did not work together, and the tree was grown over with weeds.

No more bananas.

Turtle and Monkey
Find out more
about the contributors

Turtle and Monkey

A Filipino folk tale told by David Heathfield


Nakatayo si Matsing sa gilid ng ilog at minamasdan si Pagong na lumalangoy salungat sa agos ng tubig. May naisalba syang puno sa baha. : isang batang puno.

“Matsing, may nakuha akong puno ng saging.  Pwede mo ba akong tulungan na hilahin ito sa patag at itanim?  Tutubo ito at mamumunga ng matatamis na saging.”

Hinila ni Pagong ang mabigat na bahagi ng puno – ang may ugat.  Si Pagong ay  hinawakan lang ang dalawang dahon sa may dulo ng punong saging.

Tamad na Matsing.

Nang hindi nakatingin si Pagong, tumalon si Matsing sa mga dahon.  Si Matsing na mabilis, si Matsing na niloloko si Pagong – ay hinihila na rin ni Pagong.

Humukay ng butas si Matsing at itinanim ang puno ng saging.  “Tutubo ito, Matsing.  Aalagaan nating dalawa.  Didiligan natin.  Dadamuhan ang paligid nito.  Paghahatian natin ang mga bunga ng saging.”

“ Hatiin ang puno,” sabi ni Matsing. “ Tamang tama.”  At umakyat si Matsing hanggang gitna, sa ilalim ng mga dahon at sa pamamagitan g kanyang malakas na mga kamay, binali ang itaas na bahagi ng puno nga saging at itinakbo ito habang humahalakhak.

Itinanim ni Matsing ang kanyang kalahating puno , ang itaas na kalahati sa basang lupa.  Mamumunga ito ng saging sa kalaunan, sa isip ni Matsing.

Inalagaan ni Pagong ng mabuti ang kalahating puno.  Walang dahon.
Si Pagong ay matalino, Si Pagong ay mabagal, alam ni Pagong ang alam ng mga pagong.

Dumaan ang panahon at ang kalahating puno ni Pagong ay nagkaroon ng mga dahon at nagsimulang mamunga.

Ang kalahating puno ni Matsing na may dahon ay nalanta at namatay.  Walang naiwan.

Si Pagong ay matiyagang diniligan at dinamuhan ang palibot ng kanyang saging na ngayon ay nagkaroon ng malalaki, mahahaba at hinog na bunga.

“Matsing, pwede mo ba akong tulungan? Pwede mo bang akyatin ang  puno at pitasin ang bunga?  Hindi kasi ako makaakyat ng puno.”

Si matsing na mabilis, si Matsing na niloloko si Pagong ay umakyat sa puno ng saging, pumitas ng isang saging, binalatan at kinain ang masarap na prutas.  Hinagis niya ang balat at pinatamaan si Pagong.

Paulit –ulit na pumitas at kumain ng saging si Matsing at hinagis ang mga balat sa kay Pagong.

Pinaglalaruan ulit ni Matsing si Pagong.

Ngunit hindi namalayan ni Matsing na umalis si Pagong para kumuha ng mga tinik at inilagay sa palibot ng puno ng saging.

Si Pagong ay matalino, Si Pagong ay mabagal, alam ni Pagong ang alam ng mga pagong.

Nang matapos kainin ni Matsing ang lahat ng hinog na saging at sya ay busog na busog na, bumaba na sya sa puno ng saging... “Aray, aray, aray!!!!!”

Bumaon ang mga tinik sa kanyang mga paa habang tumatakbo.  Umupo sya at binunot ag mga tinik sa kanyang mga paa na galit na galit.  Tumakbo sya ng mabilis na mabilis at hinuli si Pagong.

“Bubuhatin kita at dadalhin sa bangin, ihahagis kita sa batuhan para mabasag ang bahay mo.  Dadalhin kita sa ibabaw ng bundok ng apoy at ihahagis kita sa siga!”

“Sige, sige, sabi ni Pagong, ihagis mo ako sa apoy!  Sige, ihagis mo ako sa batuhan!  Pero, parang awa mo,  huwag na huwag mo akong ihagis sa malakas na agos ng ilog!”

“Aha, at ‘yan pala  ang ikinatatakot mo!”, sabi ni Matsing

Dinala ni Matsing si Pagong sa gilid ng ilog at hinagis paitaas.   Bumulusok sa ilalim ng malalim na ilog si pagong...at lumutang sa tubig.

“Ay, Matsing, hindi mo ba alam na gustong-gusto ng mga pagong ang lumangoy sa tubig?”

Si Pagong ay matalino, Si Pagong ay mabagal, alam ni Pagong ang alam ng mga pagong.

Pero paano na ang punong saging?

Hindi nagkasundo si Matsing at si Pagong, ang punong saging ay tinubuan ng mga damo.

Wala ng saging.

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