Filipino Tales: Why Mosquitoes Hum

Here are the words which the author glosses for this story: "Mangla, big land-crabs; Cagang, small land-crabs; Bataktak, non-edible frogs; Hu-man, land-snails; Aninipot, fireflies; Lamoc, mosquitoes."

[Notes by LKG]

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

Why Mosquitoes Hum and Try to get into the Holes of our Ears

Narrated by Fermin Torralba, a Visayan from Tagbilaran, Bohol. He heard the story from an old man of his province.

A long time ago, when the world was much quieter and younger than it is now, people told and believed many strange stories about wonderful things which none of us have ever seen. In those very early times, in the province of Bohol, there lived a creature called Mangla; he was king of the crabs.

One night, as he was very tired and sleepy, Mangla ordered his old sheriff, Cagang, leader of the small land-crabs, to call his followers, Bataktak, before him.

Although the sheriff was old, yet he brought them all in in a very short time. Then Mangla said to the Bataktak, “You must all watch my house while I am sleeping, but do not make any noise that will waken me.”

The Bataktak said, “We are always ready to obey you.” So Mangla went to sleep.

While he was snoring, it began to rain so hard that the guards could not help laughing. The king awoke very angry but, as he was still very tired and sleepy, he did not immediately ask the Bataktak why they laughed. He waited till morning came.

So, as soon as the sun shone, he called the Bataktak and said to them, “Why did you laugh last night? Did I not tell you not to make any noise?”

The Bataktak answered softly, “We could not help laughing, because last night we saw our old friend Hu-man carrying his house on his shoulder.” On account of this reasonable reply, the king pardoned the Bataktak.

Then he called his sheriff and told him to summon Hu-man. In a short time he came. The king at once said to him, “What did you do last night?”

“Sir,” replied Hu-man humbly, “I was carrying my house, because Aninipot was bringing fire, and I was afraid that my only dwelling would be burned.” This answer seemed reasonable to the king, so he pardoned Hu-man.

Then he told his sheriff Cagang to summon Aninipot. When Aninipot appeared, the king, with eyes flashing with anger, said to the culprit, “Why were you carrying fire last night?”

 Aninipot was very much frightened, but he did not lose his wits. In a trembling voice he answered, “Sir, I was carrying fire, because Lamoc was always trying to bite me. To protect myself, I am going to carry fire all the time.” The king thought that Aninipot had a good reason, so he pardoned him also.

The king now realized that there was a great deal of trouble brewing in his kingdom of which he would not have been aware if he had not been awakened by the Bataktak. So he sent his sheriff to get Lamoc.

In a short time Cagang appeared with Lamoc. But Lamoc, before he left his own house, had told all his companions to follow him, for he expected trouble. Before Lamoc reached the palace, the king was already shouting with rage, so Lamoc approached the king and bit his face.

Then Mangla cried out, “It is true what I heard from Bataktak, Hu-man, and Aninipot!” The king at once ordered his sheriff to kill Lamoc but, before Cagang could carry out the order, the companions of Lamoc rushed at him. He killed Lamoc, however, and then ran to his home, followed by Lamoc’s friends, who were bent on avenging the murder. As Cagang’s house was very deep under the ground, Lamoc’s friends could not get in, so they remained and hummed around the door.

Even today we can see that at the doors of the houses of Cagang and his followers there are many friends of Lamoc humming and trying to go inside. It is said that the Lamoc mistake the holes of our ears for the house of Cagang, and that that is the reason mosquitoes hum about our ears now.

(700 words)

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