Filipino Popular Tales
Dean S. Fansler
Part 7 out of 7
Cecilio, the Servant of Emilio.
Narrated by Sancho B. de Leon, a Tagalog from Santa Cruz, Laguna. He
heard the story from his grandfather.
Once upon a time there lived a witty orphan whose name was
Cecilio. His parents had died when he was six years old. After that
time he became a servant of Emilio, a man of wealth living in a very
lonely and desolate barrio. The boy was faithful and kind-hearted,
but his master was cruel. Cecilio had no wages at all. In short,
he served Emilio for four years, and at the end of that time he was
given five hundred centavos as a payment for his services. Cecilio
thought that he had been given too much: he was so simple-minded,
that he did not know he had been cheated by his master, who should
have given him ten times five hundred centavos.
Cecilio put his money in a new purse, and rushed out into the main road
of the barrio to find his companions and tell them of the reward he had
received. He was so very happy, that before he knew it, and without
feeling at all tired, he had reached another barrio. Suddenly on his
way he met two men with drawn bolos. They stopped him, and said, "Boy,
your money, or your life!" Cecilio was much amazed at these words,
but was also so frightened that he gave up the money at once. He
only said to himself, "Well, since I am not strong enough to defend
myself, I either have to surrender my money or die." He sat under
a tree lamenting his fortune. But the two robbers were in trouble,
because one of them wanted a greater share than the other. The second
robber said that their shares should be the same, for they had stolen
the money together; but the former answered, "I am in all respects
better than you are."--"Oh, no! for we have not yet had a trial,"
said the second. At this they began to fight; and soon both fell so
severely wounded, that they died before Cecilio, who had heard the
noise of the struggle, could reach the place where they were disputing.
Now the boy was very happy again, for he had gotten his money back. As
he had already travelled very far, he did not know where he was:
he was lost. But he proceeded along the road until he met another
man, who said roughly to him, "Give me your money, or else you will
die!" Cecilio, thinking that he would rather live than try to defend
his wealth, which he would lose in any case, gave his purse to the
man. Then the boy went away and wept. While he was crying over his bad
luck, a very old woman came near him, and said, "Why are you weeping,
The boy replied, "I am weeping because somebody took my money."
"Well, why did you give it up?" said the old woman.
"I gave it up because he said that he would kill me if I didn't."
Then the old woman said, "Take this cane with you, and whenever you
see him, let it loose and pronounce these words:--
"'Sigue garrote, sigue garrote, 
Strike that fellow over there!'
"When you want the cane to stop, all you need to say is--
For that is enough!'"
The boy then said, "Is that all?"
"After you have recovered your money," said the old woman, "you must
turn back here; but you had better hurry up now."
Cecilio then bade the old woman good-by, and at once ran away to
overtake the man who had robbed him. When he saw the man, he said,
"Give me back my money, or else you now shall die, and not I!"
The man laughed at him, and said, "Of course I shall not give you
back your money."
When he heard these words, the boy said, "Is that so?" and, letting go
of his cane, he uttered the formula that the old woman had told him
to pronounce. The cane at once began to rain blows on the stranger's
head and body. When he could no longer endure the blows, and saw
that he could not catch the stick, the man said, "If you will call
off your cane, I will return your purse."
"Very well, I will pardon you," said Cecilio; "but if you had treated
me as you should have treated me and others, you would not have been
harmed." Then he said to the cane,--
For that is enough!"
At once the magic stick stopped, and returned to its owner. The money
was given back, and the man promised Cecilio that he would not rob
any poor boy again.
On his way back toward the old woman, Cecilio met another man who
wanted to rob him; but the boy said, "Don't you dare attempt to take my
purse, or you will get yourself into trouble!" The man became angry,
and rushed at Cecilio to knock him down; but the boy pronounced the
words which the old woman had taught him, and let the cane loose. The
cane at once began to rain blows on the man's head and body. When he
could no longer endure the pain, the man asked Cecilio's pardon. As
the youth was kind-hearted, he forgave the man.
When he reached the old woman's house, Cecilio told her that the
cane had been very useful to him, for it had saved both his life and
his money. Then he returned the stick to the old woman, and thanked
her very much. She now offered to sell him a guitar which she had,
the price of which was five hundred centavos. Since she had been so
good to him, Cecilio at once agreed to the exchange; and after he
had once more bade her good-by, he set out for his master's house.
When he came near his old home, Cecilio saw his master Emilio shooting
at a very handsome bird on the top of a bamboo-tree. The bird fell
down, and the man ran to pick it up. As Emilio was making his way up
to the bird through the thorny bamboo undergrowth, Cecilio sat down
to wait for him, and, having nothing else to do, began to play his
guitar. The master at once began to dance among the bamboo-trees,
and he received many wounds because of the sharp spines. Now, in
reality, the boy was playing his guitar unintentionally, and did
not know of its magic power; but Emilio thought that Cecilio had
discovered the deceit that had been practised on him, and was playing
for revenge. Now, it happened that Emilio had a purse of money with
him to give to the laborers working in his hacienda, so he promised
to give all this money to Cecilio if he would only stop playing. The
boy, who had by this time learned of the magic power of his guitar,
stopped his music and received the money.
The crafty Emilio, however, at once hastened to the town, and asked
the magistrate to apprehend Cecilio, a young robber. Cecilio set out
for the old woman's house again; but the policemen soon overtook him,
arrested him, and took him before the magistrate. There the boy was
sentenced to death the next morning. Emilio's money was given back
to him. The following day, when he was about to be shot, Cecilio
asked permission to play his guitar once more, and he was not refused
it. As soon as he began to play, all began to dance, even his master,
who was still sore from the previous day's exercise. Finally Emilio
could endure no more. He begged Cecilio to stop playing, and promised
to give him all his wealth. He then told the soldiers to set the
boy free, for it was all his own fault. Cecilio stopped playing, and
was liberated by the magistrate. Emilio kept his word, and bestowed
on the boy all his wealth. When the old man died, Cecilio was the
richest man in the town. He became a capitan,  and was greatly
honored by the inhabitants of his barrio.
A Tagalog variant of this story by the same narrator may be given
here in abstract. While this briefer form seems to bear evidence of
some contamination with the tale of "Cecilio," each, nevertheless,
preserves characteristics lacking in the other; and again, while the
two seem to be more or less distinct versions, there can be no doubt
that they go back to the same original. The title of the variant is
"The Fortunes of Andoy, an Orphan." In abstract it runs thus:--
Once a poor orphan named Andoy, while taking a walk, found a purse. On
his way home he met a man who, without a word, took the purse from
him. The boy beginning to cry, the man had pity on him, and returned
the purse, keeping only a few coins for himself. Andoy next met two
hunters, who robbed him; but these men had not gone far when two
genuine robbers met them, and a fight ensued in which all four were
killed. When Andoy heard the noise of the struggle, he ran to see what
was happening. He found hunters and robbers dead; so he recovered his
purse and went on. Not long afterward he met a hermit, who sold him a
magic cane. The next man he encountered was looking for a purse he had
lost in the road, and, when he saw Andoy's, took it without a word;
but the money did not really belong to this man. The boy immediately
turned his cane loose on his assailant, who, after being badly beaten,
confessed that the purse was not his, and promised Andoy half his
wealth if he would call off his stick. The rich man kept his word;
and when he died, Andoy received his entire fortune.
Another variant, which was collected by Mr. R. L. Rusk of Indiana
University, and which I have only in abstract, is called "Peter the
Violinist." It runs thus:--
Peter, a lazy ne'er-do-well, ran away from home, leaving his parents
to die of grief. For being kind to a sick "old woman" he was given a
magic violin. Soon after, he was arrested for climbing into a house
at night. When he was about to be hanged for a thief, he was granted
a last request. He asked to be allowed to play his favorite piece
on his violin. As soon as he began, every one commenced to dance. He
continued, and all cried out for him to stop; but he would not cease
until they pardoned him and promised to make him king besides.
The history of the cycle of tales to which our story and the two
variants belong has been traced briefly in Bolte-Polivka, 2 :
491-503. The earliest forms of the Maerchen are the Middle-English
poems of the fifteenth century entitled "Jack and his Step-Dame" and
"The Frere and the Boye."
Here the hero is Jack, who is hated by his step-mother. Since his
father is not willing to turn him out of the house altogether, the
step-mother manages to bring it about that Jack is set to watch
the cattle, and she allows him only rotten food. An old man with
whom he shares his victuals grants him three wishes in return for
his kindness. He asks for a bow and a fife; and the old man gives
him a bow that never misses its aim, and a fife that compels every
one to dance. He also grants Jack's third wish, that every time his
step-mother hurls a bad word at him or about him, she shall give forth
another noise not permitted in polite society. When this happens that
evening at home to the amusement of all, the step-mother plans to send
the monk Tobias into the field the next day to punish Jack. However,
Jack asks the monk to fetch from the brambles a bird which he has shot,
and then he begins to play dance-music for the monk. All scratched
and bloody, Tobias returns home. That night the father calls his
son to account; but he is so pleased at the effects of the magic
fife, that he decides not to punish the boy. The official, too,
the bishop's agent, at whose court the next Friday step-mother and
monk bring charges of witchcraft against Jack, has to hear the fife,
and is obliged to dance until he promises to let Jack go unpunished.
The English story seems to have passed over into Holland, where in
1528 a Dutch form appeared, with some additions. A most significant
modification appears in a German handling of the Dutch form, by
Dieterich Albrecht in 1599:--
Here the hero is not a cowherd plagued by his malicious step-mother,
but a simple-minded servant who serves an avaricious master for three
years and receives as pay three pfennigs for the whole time. Pleased
with his earnings, however, he goes away singing. When he meets two
beggars who ask him for alms, he gives them his three coins. They
grant him three wishes in return for his goodness; and he gets a
"never-miss" crossbow, a magic fiddle that makes all dance, and the
promise that no one shall ever be able to deny him a request. By a lake
he meets a monk, who jeers at his shooting-ability, and undertakes,
if the youth can bring down a raven there on the island, to swim over
naked and fetch the bird. Soon, however, the monk regrets his bargain,
for the crossbow does not miss. While the monk stands naked in the
bushes on the island, the boy begins to fiddle. Wailing and moaning,
the ecclesiastic promises the youth the hundred ducats that he has
stolen from the monastery, and he is now permitted to return and get
his clothes. But he treacherously follows the youth, lodges a complaint
against him with the council of the nearest city, and succeeds in
getting him condemned. When the youth is already on the gallows ladder,
he requests the judge to allow him to play just one more song; and
he makes all those present dance so violently, that the judge agrees
to pardon him if he will only cease playing. Then the monk confesses
his own theft and deceit, and receives his deserved punishment.
In this version, as Bolte and Polivka note (2 : 493), the chief
deviations from the English-Dutch form of the story are the omission
of the step-mother role, the nature of the third wish, and the
modification of the character of the monk, who, from a mere tool
of the step-mother, has here developed into a thieving rascal. A
Czech redaction (1604) of the German poem substitutes for the runaway
monk a Jew. This substitution is also found in the German prose tale
"Von Knecht Treurecht" (about 1690).
Of the modern oral folk-versions of the story, some are based on the
Middle-English droll; but by far the larger number omit the hostile
step-mother, and retain only the dance of the monk or the Jew and the
scene at the gallows. For a complete list of stories of this second
type, see Bolte-Polivka, 2 : 495-501. All the variants, both literary
and popular, cited in this bibliography, are Occidental; and we must
inevitably conclude that the story was imported into the Philippines
some time during the Spanish occupation of the Islands. Some rather
important differences are presented by our versions, however; and these
we shall call attention to briefly, first mentioning the details that
definitely connect our forms with the European.
The opening of the story of "Cecilio" is like that of Albrecht's,
given above. Our hero works four years for a cruel master, and
receives five hundred centavos as pay,--a sum with which he is more
than satisfied. At this point our story digresses. After two adventures
with robbers, in the first of which he recovers his money by a lucky
accident (this incident is considerably elaborated in the variant),
he meets an old woman who lends him a magic cane, and with its help
he is able to regain his money from a second robber. This feature
of the magic beating-stick seems to be borrowed from the preceding
story. He now returns the cane to the old woman, and she sells him
a magic guitar. The next adventure--with his former master, who is
substituted for the knavish monk--contains a distorted reminiscence of
the shooting of the bird, and ends with the dance among the thorns
(here bamboo-spines). The hero is bought off by his master, who
immediately rushes to town and accuses him of theft. The rest is
practically as in Albrecht.
While our version introduces two magic articles, it can be
seen that the first does not properly belong to the story. The
"three-wishes" incident, and accordingly the third wish itself, is
lacking altogether. A rather artistic attempt to unify the story as
a whole is the substitution of the rascally master introduced in the
beginning of the story, for the knavish monk or Jew later on; though
it is to be noticed that the narrator falls to motivate the hero's
return to the house that he had apparently left for good when he was
paid off. The episode of the shooting is obscure, and appears to be
only a vague echo of the detail definitely connected with one of the
three gifts in some of the European literary forms. Again, in "Cecilio"
the musical instrument is a guitar instead of the usual violin or fife;
while in the variant "Andoy" the magic cane is the only enchanted
object, no musical instrument appearing at all. The episode of the two
robbers killing each other over the treasure (paralleled in "Andoy,"
where two robbers fight with two hunters, and all four are killed)
is an interesting addition, the source of which I am unable to point
out. It may be derived from some moral tale related in kind to the
"Vedabbha-jataka," No. 48; "Cento Novelle Antiche," No. 82; Morlini,
No. 42; Chaucer's "Pardoner's Tale," etc.; although the characteristic
treachery emphasized in those stories is lacking here. The incident
is not found in other versions of our tale that I know of.
I am unable to name the immediate source of our story of "Cecilio"
and of the two variants; though, as has been remarked above, it was
pretty certainly European. None of the three seems to owe anything in
particular to the Spanish ballad printed in the "Romancero General,"
No. 1265, which Bolte and Polivka think is based directly on Grimm,
No. 110. The local modifications in our story, and the definite
native atmosphere maintained throughout, suggest that it is not a
An interesting animal version from South Africa, containing the magic
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