Filipino Tales: Cuttlefish and Squids

This story is part of the Filipino Tales unit. Story source: Filipino Popular Tales by Dean S. Fansler (1921).

Why the Cuttlefish and Squids produce a Black Liquid

Narrated by Victoria Ciudadano of Batangas. She says she heard the story from an old woman. It is known by both the Tagalogs and the Visayans.

A long time ago, after Bathala (the Supreme Being of the ancient Tagalogs) had created the fishes, he assigned a certain day for all of them to meet in the Dark Sea. The object of this convention was to appoint some officers.

Early in the morning of the day designated, the fishes were to be seen hurrying to the meeting. When they reached the assembly hall, they found Bathala sitting on a beautiful stone, waiting for them. He called the roll when it seemed that all of the fishes were present. It was found that the cuttle-fish and squid were absent, so they waited for them a half-hour, but still they did not come.

At last Bathala arose, and said, “The meeting will come to order.” After the fishes had taken their proper positions, Bathala continued, “The object of this meeting is to appoint some officers and to issue their appointments.”

At once all the fishes became very quiet and respectful for all were anxious to know what offices each was going to hold. Bathala appointed the sting-ray sergeant-at-arms: hence all sting-rays now have whip-like tails. The crocodile was appointed cadaver-carrier, so now all its children have a coffin-like skin on their backs. The crab was made a soldier, so to-day all its descendants have large and strong forelegs.

Bathala had not finished giving out his appointments when the two missing members came. They at once interrupted the meeting by asking what it was all about. Bathala became very angry at the interruption, so he scolded the sting-ray and the squid severely. The rebuke humiliated them so that they agreed between themselves to go get mud and throw it on the official appointments.

When they had gotten the mud, they came back and asked Bathala to give them something to do, but instead of appointing them to some work, he only scolded them for being late. Angered, they now threw mud on all the appointments that had already been drawn up.

This insulting act of the cuttle-fish and the squid so enraged Bathala that he stood up and said in thundering tones, “Now I shall punish you. From this time on, you and your descendants shall carry pouches of mud with you all the time. Besides, you shall be very slow in moving because of your heavy loads.”

The squid tried to make excuses, but Bathala became angrier than ever and said, “You are the naughtiest creature I ever had. As a punishment, you and your children shall remain the same size as you are now.”

And all of Bathala’s words have turned out to be true.

(500 words)

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