Filipino Tales: The Poor Man and his Three Sons

The "cat" part of this story echoes the English folktale of "Dick Whittington and His Cat." You can read about that story at Wikipedia.

[Notes by LKG]

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




The Poor Man and his Three Sons

Narrated by Gregorio Velasquez, a Tagalog from Pasig, Rizal. He says, “This is a primitive Tagalog fable. I think. I heard it from old people.”

Once there lived a poor man who had three sons. When the father was on his death-bed, he called his sons, and said to them, “My sons, I shall die very soon, and I shall not be able to leave you much wealth, for wealth I have not. But I will give each one of you something which, if you will only be able to find a place in which it has no equal, will make you happy men.” The father then gave to one a rooster, to another a cat, and to the third a scythe. Then he died.

The owner of the scythe was the first to try his fortune and test his father’s advice. He left his brothers and went on a journey until he came to a town where he saw the people harvesting rice by pulling the stalks out of the ground. He showed the people the convenience of the scythe. They were so delighted and astonished that they offered to give him a large sum of money in exchange for the tool. Of course he was willing to sell it, and he went home a rich man.

The owner of the rooster, seeing the good luck of his brother, next resolved to try his fortune with the bird. Like his brother, he travelled until he came to a town where there was no rooster. The people were very much interested in the rooster’s crowing and asked the owner why the bird crowed. He said that the bird told the time of day by its crowing. “The first crow in the night announces midnight,” he said; “the second, three o’clock in the morning, and the third crow announces five o’clock.” The people were very anxious to get the rooster for their town, and offered to buy it. The owner was willing, and he returned to his home as rich as his brother who had sold the scythe.

The last brother now set out to try his luck with his cat. At last he came to a town where the rats were vexing the people very much. He showed them the use of his cat. With wonder the people watched the cat kill the rats and were astounded to see how the rats fled from this strange animal. The news of the cat reached the king, who summoned its owner to the palace. The king asked the brother to try his cat on the rats in the palace, and so the cat was turned loose. In a short time all the rats had either been killed or driven away. The king wanted the cat, and offered to pay a large sum of money for it. So the owner of the cat, after the king had paid him, went home as rich as his other two brothers.

Thus the three brothers became rich, because they followed their father’s wise advice: select the right place in which to trade.


(500 words)








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