Filipino Tales: The Devil and the Guachinango

Here is the author's note about the guachinango: "Guachinango, defined by the narrator as “vagabond.” The word is used in Cuba as a nickname for the natives of Mexico," and here is his note about the sting-ray: "pagui, the sting-ray, or skate-fish. Its tail is very efficacious against evil spirits and witches, according to native belief."

[Notes by LKG]

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

The Devil and the Guachinango

Narrated by José Laki of Guagua, Pampanga. He got the story from his uncle, who heard it from an old Pampango storyteller.

There once lived in a suburb of a town a very religious old widow who had a beautiful daughter, Piriang by name. Young men from different parts of the town came to court Piriang, and the mother always preferred the rich to the poor. Whenever Piriang’s friends told her that the man whom she rejected would have been a good match for her, she always answered that she would rather have a devil for a husband than such a man.

One day a devil heard Piriang giving this answer to one of her friends. Thus encouraged, he disguised himself as a young man of noble blood and went to Piriang’s house to offer her his love. The mother and daughter received this stranger with great civility for he appeared to them to be the son of a nobleman. In the richness of his dress he was unexcelled by his rivals.

After he had been going to Piriang’s house for a few weeks, the old widow told him one day to come prepared to be married on the following Tuesday. On the Sunday before the wedding-day, he had a long conversation with Piriang. He calmly asked her to take off the cross that she had about her neck, for it made her look ugly, he said. She refused to do so, however, because she had worn this cross ever since she was a child. After he had departed, Piriang told her mother what he had asked her to do.

The next day the mother went to the church. She told the priest that Piriang’s bridegroom had ordered her to take off her cross from her neck. The priest said that that man was a devil, for no man, as a son of God, would say that a cross made the one who wore it look ugly. The priest gave the mother a small image of the Virgin Mary. He instructed her to show the image to the bridegroom. If when he beheld it he turned his back on her as she was holding it, she was to tie him around the neck with her cintas [a religious belt]. Then she was to put him in a large jar and bury him at least twenty-one feet under the ground.

The mother went home very much distressed because she had allowed her daughter to become engaged to a devil. She told Piriang not to talk with her bridegroom because she feared that he was a devil.

That night he came with his friend dressed like him. The mother was very gracious to them. They talked about the wedding. When the old woman held up the image of the Virgin Mary, the two men turned their backs on her. She immediately wound her cintas around the neck of her daughter’s bridegroom, and Piriang came in with the dried tail of a sting-ray in her right hand. She whipped him with this as hard as she could. Then the two together forced him to get into a large jar. After warning him not to come back to earth again, the old woman covered the jar with a piece of cloth wet with holy water. The other devil suddenly disappeared.

The next morning a guachinango happened to pass by the house of the old woman. She called him in, showed him the jar, and told him to bury it at least twenty-one feet deep. When he asked how much she would pay him, she promised to give him ten pesos. He agreed; so, putting the jar on his right shoulder, he set out.

When he reached a quiet place, he heard whispers behind him. He stopped and looked around, but could see nothing. Then he put the jar on the ground to rest a few minutes. Now he discovered that the whispers were coming from inside the jar. He was very much surprised.

“What are you?” asked the guachinango. “Are you a man, or a devil?”

“I am a devil, my friend,” answered the voice. “The old woman forced me to go into this jar. Be kind to me, my friend, and liberate me!”

“I shall obey the old woman in order to get my pay,” said the guachinango. “I will bury you even deeper than twenty-one feet.”

“If you will bury me just three feet deep,” said the devil, “I will give you a large sum of money.”

“I will bury you just one and a half feet deep, if you can give me much money,” said the guachinango.

 “I will give you five hundred pesos,” said the devil. “Dig the ground near the stump of that mabolo-tree. There you will find the money in a dirty black purse.”


After the guachinango had buried the devil, he went to the mabolo-tree and took the money. Then he went to the nearest village and played casino.

As soon as he lost all his money, he returned to the devil. “I have lost all the money you gave me,” he said. “I will now bury you twenty-one feet deep.”

“No, do not bury me so deep as that, my friend!” said the devil calmly. “I can give you twice as much money as I gave you before. You will find it in the same place that you found the other.”

The guachinango took the money and went to the village again to gamble. Again he lost. He returned to the devil and asked him angrily why he always lost the money he gave him. “

I don’t know,” answered the devil. “I have given you fifteen hundred pesos, but you haven’t even a cent now. You ought to set me free at once.”

“Aha! I won’t let you go,” said the guachinango. “I will bury you thirty-nine feet now.”

“I have a plan in mind,” said the devil, “which will benefit you extremely, but before I explain my plan, let me ask you if you would like to marry the daughter of the king.”

“I have a great desire to be king some day,” said the guachinango, “but how can you make me the husband of a princess when you are only a devil, and I am nothing but a poor guachinango?”

“As soon as you set me free,” said the devil, “I will enter the mouth of the princess and go into her brains. Then I will give her a very painful headache which no physician can cure. The king will make an announcement saying that he who can cure his daughter of her disease shall marry her. When you hear this announcement, go to the palace at once and offer your services to the king. As soon as you reach the princess, tell me that you have come, and I will leave her immediately. The princess will then recover her former health, and you will be married to her. Do not fail to go to the palace, for I am determined to reward you for your kindness to me.”

After the guachinango had liberated the devil, he immediately set out for the city. He had not been there three days when he met a group of soldiers crying that “he who could cure the princess should have her to wife.” The guachinango stopped the soldiers, and said that he could cure the princess. They took him before the king, where a written agreement was made. If he could not cure the princess in three days, he should lose his life; but if he cured her by the end of the third day, he should marry her. The guachinango was then conducted to the room of the princess.

When he approached her, he said to the devil that he had come. “You must leave the princess now; for, if you don’t, I shall be executed.”

But the devil refused to leave because he wanted to get revenge. He further told the guachinango that he wanted him to die, for then his soul would go to hell.

The guachinango became more and more hopeless.

On the morning of the third day he thought of a good plan to get rid of his enemy. He asked the king to order all the bells of the neighboring churches to be tolled, while every one in the palace was to cry out loud, “Here she comes!” While all this noise was going on, the guachinango approached the princess and told the devil that the old woman was coming with her cintas.

When the devil heard this, he was terribly frightened and left the princess and disappeared. The next day the guachinango was married to the princess.

Next: Chonguita

(1400 words)










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