Most Famous Filipino Traditional Folk Songs

The Filipinos are music lovers. Music is a way for Filipinos to express their feelings and aspirations in life. Even the most common people have their own music. Filipino folks clearly and lucidly express their experiences and dreams through folk songs. Among the most popular traditional folk songs include Bahay Kubo, Paroparong Bukid, Magtanim ay Di Biro and many others.
Here are the 10 most popular traditional folk songs in the Philippines.

kubo
1. Bahay Kubo
Undoubtedly, the most popular traditional Filipino folk song is Bahay Kubo (Nipa Hut). The song tells of a small hut surrounded with variety of vegetables. It was composed by Felipe De leon.

Lyrics of the Song:
Bahay kubo, kahit munti,
ang halaman duon ay sari-sari.
Singkamas at talong,Sigarilyas at mani.
Sitaw, bataw, patani.
Kundol, patola, upo’t kalabasa.
At saka meron pa,
Labanos, mustasa.
Sibuyas, kamatis,
Bawang at luya.
Sa paligid-ligid ay puno ng linga.

2. Magtanim ay Di Biro
Magtanim ay Di Biro (Planting Rice is Not a Joke) is a popular Tagalog folk song. This classic song was composed by Felipe De Leon.

tanim
Lyrics:
Magtanim ay di biro
Maghapong nakayuko
Di naman makatayo
Di naman makaupo
Bisig ko’y namamanhid
Baywang ko’y nangangawit.
Binti ko’y namimintig
Sa pagkababad sa tubig.
Kay-pagkasawing-palad
Ng inianak sa hirap,
Ang bisig kung di iunat,
Di kumita ng pilak. Sa umagang pagkagising
Lahat ay iisipin
Kung saan may patanim
May masarap na pagkain.
Halina, halina, mga kaliyag,
Tayo’y magsipag-unat-unat.
Magpanibago tayo ng lakas
Para sa araw ng bukas

3. Paroparong Bukid
Paroparong Bukid, which means “farm butterfly”, is another popular Tagalog folk song composed by Felipe De Leon.

butterfly
Lyrics:
Paruparong bukid na lilipad-lipad
Sa gitna ng daan papagapagaspas
Isang bara ang tapis
Isang dangkal ang manggas
Ang sayang de kola
Isang piyesa ang sayad
May payneta pa siya — uy!
May suklay pa man din — uy!
Nagwas de-ohetes ang palalabasin
Haharap sa altar at mananalamin
At saka lalakad nang pakendeng-kendeng.

Papaya
4. Leron, Leron Sinta
This popular classic traditional folk song composed by Alberto Florentino. This folk song is about a man named “Leron” and her sweetheart “Neneng”. The song revolves around the adventures of the two sweethearts as they pick fruits from a Papaya and a Tamarind trees. The first verse is the most famous.

Lyrics:
Leron, Leron, sinta
Buko ng papaya
Dala dala’y buslo
Sisidlan ng bunga
Pagdating sa dulo’y
Nabali ang sanga,
Kapos kapalaran
Humanap ng iba.

Halika na Neneng, tayo’y manampalok
Dalhin mo ang buslo, sisidlan ng hinog
Pagdating sa dulo’y uunda-undayog
Kumapit ka Neneng, baka ka mahulog.

Halika na Neneng at tayo’y magsimba
At iyong isuot ang baro mo’t saya
Ang baro mo’t sayang pagkaganda-ganda
Kay ganda ng kulay — berde, puti, pula.

Ako’y ibigin mo, lalaking matapang
Ang sundang ko’y pito, ang baril ko’y siyam.
Ang lalakarin ko’y parte ng dinulang.
Isang pinggang pansit, ang aking kalaban!

sitsiritsit

5. Sitsiritsit Alibangbang
This traditional Filipino folk song is a humorous song that describes a flirtatious woman threatening the storeowner that ants are going to get him if he is not going to extend credit.
Lyrics:
Sitsiritsit, alibangbang Salaginto at salagubang. Ang babae sa lansangan, Kung gumiri’y parang tandang.
Santo Niño sa Pandakan ” Puto seko sa tindahan. Kung ayaw mong magpautang, Uubusin ka ng langgam.
Mama, mama, namamangka, Pasakayin yaring bata. Pagdating sa Maynila, Ipagpalit ng manika.

Ale, ale namamayong ” Pasukubin yaring sanggol. Pagdating sa Malabon, Ipagpalit ng bagoong.
Sitsiritsit, alibangbang, Salaginto at salagubang. Ang babae sa lansangan,’ Kung gumiri’y parang tandang.

 

 

How My Brother Leon Brought Home A Wife

Leon main frame

 

She stepped down from the carretela of Ca Celin with a quick, delicate grace. She was lovely. SHe was tall. She looked up to my brother with a smile, and her forehead was on a level with his mouth.

“You are Baldo,” she said and placed her hand lightly on my shoulder. Her nails were long, but they were not painted. She was fragrant like a morning when papayas are in bloom. And a small dimple appeared momently high on her right cheek. “And this is Labang of whom I have heard so much.” She held the wrist of one hand with the other and looked at Labang, and Labang never stopped chewing his cud. He swallowed and brought up to his mouth more cud and the sound of his insides was like a drum.

I laid a hand on Labang’s massive neck and said to her: “You may scratch his forehead now.”

Leon 1

She hesitated and I saw that her eyes were on the long, curving horns. But she came and touched Labang’s forehead with her long fingers, and Labang never stopped chewing his cud except that his big eyes half closed. And by and by she was scratching his forehead very daintily.

My brother Leon put down the two trunks on the grassy side of the road. He paid Ca Celin twice the usual fare from the station to the edge of Nagrebcan. Then he was standing beside us, and she turned to him eagerly. I watched Ca Celin, where he stood in front of his horse, and he ran his fingers through its forelock and could not keep his eyes away from her.
“Maria—” my brother Leon said.

maria

He did not say Maring. He did not say Mayang. I knew then that he had always called her Maria and that to us all she would be Maria; and in my mind I said ‘Maria’ and it was a beautiful name.

“Yes, Noel.”

Now where did she get that name? I pondered the matter quietly to myself, thinking Father might not like it. But it was only the name of my brother Leon said backward and it sounded much better that way.

“There is Nagrebcan, Maria,” my brother Leon said, gesturing widely toward the west.

She moved close to him and slipped her arm through his. And after a while she said quietly.

Leon 3

“You love Nagrebcan, don’t you, Noel?”

Ca Celin drove away hi-yi-ing to his horse loudly. At the bend of the camino real where the big duhat tree grew, he rattled the handle of his braided rattan whip against the spokes of the wheel.

We stood alone on the roadside.

The sun was in our eyes, for it was dipping into the bright sea. The sky was wide and deep and very blue above us: but along the saw-tooth rim of the Katayaghan hills to the southwest flamed huge masses of clouds. Before us the fields swam in a golden haze through which floated big purple and red and yellow bubbles when I looked at the sinking sun. Labang’s white coat, which I had wshed and brushed that morning with coconut husk, glistened like beaten cotton under the lamplight and his horns appeared tipped with fire.

He faced the sun and from his mouth came a call so loud and vibrant that the earth seemed to tremble underfoot. And far away in the middle of the field a cow lowed softly in answer.

“Hitch him to the cart, Baldo,” my brother Leon said, laughing, and she laughed with him a big uncertainly, and I saw that he had put his arm around her shoulders.

“Why does he make that sound?” she asked. “I have never heard the like of it.”

“There is not another like it,” my brother Leon said. “I have yet to hear another bull call like Labang. In all the world there is no other bull like him.”

She was smiling at him, and I stopped in the act of tying the sinta across Labang’s neck to the opposite end of the yoke, because her teeth were very white, her eyes were so full of laughter, and there was the small dimple high up on her right cheek.

“If you continue to talk about him like that, either I shall fall in love with him or become greatly jealous.”

My brother Leon laughed and she laughed and they looked at each other and it seemed to me there was a world of laughter between them and in them.

I climbed into the cart over the wheel and Labang would have bolted, for he was always like that, but I kept a firm hold on his rope. He was restless and would not stand still, so that my brother Leon had to say “Labang” several times. When he was quiet again, my brother Leon lifted the trunks into the cart, placing the smaller on top.

She looked down once at her high-heeled shoes, then she gave her left hand to my brother Leon, placed a foot on the hub of the wheel, and in one breath she had swung up into the cart. Oh, the fragrance of her. But Labang was fairly dancing with impatience and it was all I could do to keep him from running away.

“Give me the rope, Baldo,” my brother Leon said. “Maria, sit down on the hay and hold on to anything.” Then he put a foot on the left shaft and that instand labang leaped forward. My brother Leon laughed as he drew himself up to the top of the side of the cart and made the slack of the rope hiss above the back of labang. The wind whistled against my cheeks and the rattling of the wheels on the pebbly road echoed in my ears.

She sat up straight on the bottom of the cart, legs bent togther to one side, her skirts spread over them so that only the toes and heels of her shoes were visible. her eyes were on my brother Leon’s back; I saw the wind on her hair. When Labang slowed down, my brother Leon handed to me the rope. I knelt on the straw inside the cart and pulled on the rope until Labang was merely shuffling along, then I made him turn around.

“What is it you have forgotten now, Baldo?” my brother Leon said.

I did not say anything but tickled with my fingers the rump of Labang; and away we went—back to where I had unhitched and waited for them. The sun had sunk and down from the wooded sides of the Katayaghan hills shadows were stealing into the fields. High up overhead the sky burned with many slow fires.

When I sent Labang down the deep cut that would take us to the dry bed of the Waig which could be used as a path to our place during the dry season, my brother Leon laid a hand on my shoulder and said sternly:

“Who told you to drive through the fields tonight?”

Labang

His hand was heavy on my shoulder, but I did not look at him or utter a word until we were on the rocky bottom of the Waig.

“Baldo, you fool, answer me before I lay the rope of Labang on you. Why do you follow the Wait instead of the camino real?”

His fingers bit into my shoulder.

“Father, he told me to follow the Waig tonight, Manong.”

Swiftly, his hand fell away from my shoulder and he reached for the rope of Labang. Then my brother Leon laughed, and he sat back, and laughing still, he said:

“And I suppose Father also told you to hitch Labang to the cart and meet us with him instead of with Castano and the calesa.”

Without waiting for me to answer, he turned to her and said, “Maria, why do you think Father should do that, now?” He laughed and added, “Have you ever seen so many stars before?”

I looked back and they were sitting side by side, leaning against the trunks, hands clasped across knees. Seemingly, but a man’s height above the tops of the steep banks of the Wait, hung the stars. But in the deep gorge the shadows had fallen heavily, and even the white of Labang’s coat was merely a dim, grayish blur. Crickets chirped from their homes in the cracks in the banks. The thick, unpleasant smell of dangla bushes and cooling sun-heated earth mingled with the clean, sharp scent of arrais roots exposed to the night air and of the hay inside the cart.

“Look, Noel, yonder is our star!” Deep surprise and gladness were in her voice. Very low in the west, almost touching the ragged edge of the bank, was the star, the biggest and brightest in the sky.

“I have been looking at it,” my brother Leon said. “Do you remember how I would tell you that when you want to see stars you must come to Nagrebcan?”

“Yes, Noel,” she said. “Look at it,” she murmured, half to herself. “It is so many times bigger and brighter than it was at Ermita beach.”

“The air here is clean, free of dust and smoke.”

“So it is, Noel,” she said, drawing a long breath.

“Making fun of me, Maria?”

She laughed then and they laughed together and she took my brother Leon’s hand and put it against her face.

I stopped Labang, climbed down, and lighted the lantern that hung from the cart between the wheels.

“Good boy, Baldo,” my brother Leon said as I climbed back into the cart, and my heart sant.

Now the shadows took fright and did not crowd so near. Clumps of andadasi and arrais flashed into view and quickly disappeared as we passed by. Ahead, the elongated shadow of Labang bobbled up and down and swayed drunkenly from side to side, for the lantern rocked jerkily with the cart.

“Have we far to go yet, Noel?” she asked.

“Ask Baldo,” my brother Leon said, “we have been neglecting him.”

“I am asking you, Baldo,” she said.

Without looking back, I answered, picking my words slowly:

“Soon we will get out of the Wait and pass into the fields. After the fields is home—Manong.”

“So near already.”

I did not say anything more because I did not know what to make of the tone of her voice as she said her last words. All the laughter seemed to have gone out of her. I waited for my brother Leon to say something, but he was not saying anything. Suddenly he broke out into song and the song was ‘Sky Sown with Stars’—the same that he and Father sang when we cut hay in the fields at night before he went away to study. He must have taught her the song because she joined him, and her voice flowed into his like a gentle stream meeting a stronger one. And each time the wheels encountered a big rock, her voice would catch in her throat, but my brother Leon would sing on, until, laughing softly, she would join him again.

Then we were climbing out into the fields, and through the spokes of the wheels the light of the lantern mocked the shadows. Labang quickened his steps. The jolting became more frequent and painful as we crossed the low dikes.

“But it is so very wide here,” she said. The light of the stars broke and scattered the darkness so that one could see far on every side, though indistinctly.

Leon  n maria

“You miss the houses, and the cars, and the people and the noise, don’t you?” My brother Leon stopped singing.

“Yes, but in a different way. I am glad they are not here.”

With difficulty I turned Labang to the left, for he wanted to go straight on. He was breathing hard, but I knew he was more thirsty than tired. In a little while we drope up the grassy side onto the camino real.

“—you see,” my brother Leon was explaining, “the camino real curves around the foot of the Katayaghan hills and passes by our house. We drove through the fields because—but I’ll be asking Father as soon as we get home.”

“Noel,” she said.

“Yes, Maria.”

“I am afraid. He may not like me.”

“Does that worry you still, Maria?” my brother Leon said. “From the way you talk, he might be an ogre, for all the world. Except when his leg that was wounded in the Revolution is troubling him, Father is the mildest-tempered, gentlest man I know.”

We came to the house of Lacay Julian and I spoke to Labang loudly, but Moning did not come to the window, so I surmised she must be eating with the rest of her family. And I thought of the food being made ready at home and my mouth watered. We met the twins, Urong and Celin, and I said “Hoy!” calling them by name. And they shouted back and asked if my brother Leon and his wife were with me. And my brother Leon shouted to them and then told me to make Labang run; their answers were lost in the noise of the wheels.

I stopped labang on the road before our house and would have gotten down but my brother Leon took the rope and told me to stay in the cart. He turned Labang into the open gate and we dashed into our yard. I thought we would crash into the camachile tree, but my brother Leon reined in Labang in time. There was light downstairs in the kitchen, and Mother stood in the doorway, and I could see her smiling shyly. My brother Leon was helping Maria over the wheel. The first words that fell from his lips after he had kissed Mother’s hand were:

“Father… where is he?”

“He is in his room upstairs,” Mother said, her face becoming serious. “His leg is bothering him again.”

I did not hear anything more because I had to go back to the cart to unhitch Labang. But I hardly tied him under the barn when I heard Father calling me. I met my brother Leon going to bring up the trunks. As I passed through the kitchen, there were Mother and my sister Aurelia and Maria and it seemed to me they were crying, all of them.

Leon 2

There was no light in Father’s room. There was no movement. He sat in the big armchair by the western window, and a star shone directly through it. He was smoking, but he removed the roll of tobacco from his mouth when he saw me. He laid it carefully on the windowsill before speaking.

“Did you meet anybody on the way?” he asked.

“No, Father,” I said. “Nobody passes through the Waig at night.”

He reached for his roll of tobacco and hithced himself up in the chair.

“She is very beautiful, Father.”

“Was she afraid of Labang?” My father had not raised his voice, but the room seemed to resound with it. And again I saw her eyes on the long curving horns and the arm of my brother Leon around her shoulders.

“No, Father, she was not afraid.”

“On the way—”

“She looked at the stars, Father. And Manong Leon sang.”

“What did he sing?”

“—Sky Sown with Stars… She sang with him.”

He was silent again. I could hear the low voices of Mother and my sister Aurelia downstairs. There was also the voice of my brother Leon, and I thought that Father’s voice must have been like it when Father was young. He had laid the roll of tobacco on the windowsill once more. I watched the smoke waver faintly upward from the lighted end and vanish slowly into the night outside.

The door opened and my brother Leon and Maria came in.

“Have you watered Labang?” Father spoke to me.

I told him that Labang was resting yet under the barn.

“It is time you watered him, my son,” my father said.

I looked at Maria and she was lovely. She was tall. Beside my brother Leon, she was tall and very still. Then I went out, and in the darkened hall the fragrance of her was like a morning when papayas are in bloom.
END

Life of Lam-Ang : Philippine Epic

Lam-ang

Summary  : Life of Lam-Ang

Don Juan and his wife Namongan lived in Nalbuan, now part of La Union in the northern part of the Philippines. They had a son named Lam-ang. Before Lam-ang was born, Don Juan went to the mountains in order to punish a group of their Igorot enemies. While he was away, his son Lam-ang was born. It took four people to help Namongan give birth. As soon as the baby boy popped out, he spoke and asked that he be given the name Lam-ang. He also chose his godparents and asked where his father was.
After nine months of waiting for his father to return, Lam-ang decided he would go look for him. Namongan thought Lam-ang was up to the challenge but she was sad to let him go. During his exhausting journey, he decided to rest for awhile. He fell asleep and had a dream about his father’s head being stuck on a pole by the Igorot. Lam-ang was furious when he learned what had happened to his father. He rushed to their village and killed them all, except for one whom he let go so that he could tell other people about Lam-ang’s greatness.
Upon returning to Nalbuan in triumph, he was bathed by women in the Amburayan river. All the fish died because of the dirt and odor from Lam-ang’s body.
There was a young woman named Ines Kannoyan whom Lam-ang wanted to woo. She lived in Calanutian and he brought along his white rooster and gray dog to visit her. On the way, Lam-ang met his enemy Sumarang, another suitor of Ines whom he fought and readily defeated.
Lam-ang found the house of Ines surrounded by many suitors all of whom were trying to catch her attention. He had his rooster crow, which caused a nearby house to fall. This made Ines look out. He had his dog bark and in an instant the fallen house rose up again. The girl’s parents witnessed this and called for him. The rooster expressed the love of Lam-ang. The parents agreed to a marriage with their daughter if Lam-ang would give them a dowry valued at double their wealth. Lam-ang had no problem fulfilling this condition and he and Ines were married.
It was a tradition to have a newly married man swim in the river for the rarang fish. Unfortunately, Lam-ang dove straight into the mouth of the water monster Berkakan. Ines had Marcos get his bones, which she covered with a piece of cloth. His rooster crowed and his dog barked and slowly the bones started to move. Back alive, Lam-ang and his wife lived happily ever after with his white rooster and gray dog.

END

Morning in Nagrebcan by: Manuel A. Arguilla

Philippine Literature

frame for Morning in Nagrebcan

It was sunrise at Nagrebcan. The fine, bluish mist, low over the tobacco fields, was lifting and thinning moment by moment. A ragged strip of mist, pulled away by the morning breeze, had caught on the clumps of bamboo along the banks of the stream that flowed to one side of the barrio. Before long the sun would top the Katayaghan hills, but as yet no people were around. In the grey shadow of the hills, the barrio was gradually awaking. Roosters crowed and strutted on the ground while hens hesitated on their perches among the branches of the camanchile trees. Stray goats nibbled the weeds on the sides of the road, and the bull ( Carabaos)  tugged restively against their stakes.

In the early morning the puppies lay curled up together between their mother’s paws under the ladder of the house. Four puppies were all white like the mother. They had pink noses and pink eyelids and pink mouths. The skin between their toes and on the inside of their large, limp ears was pink. They had short sleek hair, for the mother licked them often. The fifth puppy lay across the mother’s neck. On the puppy’s back was a big black spot like a saddle. The tips of its ears were black and so was a patch of hair on its chest.

dog family

The opening of the sawali door, its uneven bottom dragging noisily against the bamboo flooring, aroused the mother dog and she got up and stretched and shook herself, scattering dust and loose white hair. A rank doggy smell rose in the cool morning air. She took a quick leap forward, clearing the puppies which had begun to whine about her, wanting to suckle. She trotted away and disappeared beyond the house of a neighbor.

The puppies sat back on their rumps, whining. After a little while they lay down and went back to sleep, the black-spotted puppy on top.
Baldo stood at the threshold and rubbed his sleep-heavy eyes with his fists. He must have been about ten years old, small for his age, but compactly built, and he stood straight on his bony legs. He wore one of his father’s discarded cotton undershirts.

The boy descended the ladder, leaning heavily on the single bamboo railing that served as a banister. He sat on the lowest step of the ladder, yawning and rubbing his eyes one after the other. Bending down, he reached between his legs for the black-spotted puppy. He held it to him, stroking its soft, warm body. He blew on its nose. The puppy stuck out a small red tongue, lapping the air. It whined eagerly. Baldo laughed – a low gurgle.

two boys

He rubbed his face against that of the dog. He said softly, “My puppy. My puppy.” He said it many times. The puppy licked his ears, his cheeks. When it licked his mouth, Baldo straightened up, raised the puppy on a level with his eyes. “You are a foolish puppy,” he said, laughing. “Foolish, foolish, foolish,” he said, rolling the puppy on his lap so that it howled.

The four other puppies awoke and came scrambling about Baldo’s legs. He put down the black-spotted puppy and ran to the narrow foot bridge of woven split-bamboo spanning the roadside ditch. When it rained, water from the roadway flowed under the makeshift bridge, but it had not rained for a long time and the ground was dry and sandy. Baldo sat on the bridge, digging his bare feet into the sand, feeling the cool particles escaping between his toes. He whistled, a toneless whistle with a curious trilling to it produced by placing the tongue against the lower teeth and then curving it up and down.

The whistle excited the puppies; they ran to the boy as fast as their unsteady legs could carry them, barking choppy little barks.

Nana Elang, the mother of Baldo, now appeared in the doorway with handful of rice straw. She called Baldo and told him to get some live coals from their neighbor.

“Get two or three burning coals and bring them home on the rice straw,” she said. “Do not wave the straw in the wind. If you do, it will catch fire before you get home.” She watched him run toward Ka Ikao’s house where already smoke was rising through the nipa roofing into the misty air. One or two empty carromatas drawn by sleepy little ponies rattled along the pebbly street, bound for the railroad station.

Nana Elang must have been thirty, but she looked at least fifty. She was a thin, wispy woman, with bony hands and arms. She had scanty, straight, graying hair which she gathered behind her head in a small, tight knot. It made her look thinner than ever. Her cheekbones seemed on the point of bursting through the dry, yellowish-brown skin. Above a gray-checkered skirt, she wore a single wide-sleeved cotton blouse that ended below her flat breasts. Sometimes when she stooped or reached up for anything, a glimpse of the flesh at her waist showed in a dark, purplish band where the skirt had been tied so often.

She turned from the doorway into the small, untidy kitchen. She washed the rice and put it in a pot which she placed on the cold stove. She made ready the other pot for the mess of vegetables and dried fish. When Baldo came back with the rice straw and burning coals, she told him to start a fire in the stove, while she cut the ampalaya tendrils and sliced the eggplants. When the fire finally flamed inside the clay stove, Baldo’s eyes were smarting from the smoke of the rice straw.

“There is the fire, mother,” he said. “Is father awake already?”

Nana Elang shook her head. Baldo went out slowly on tiptoe.

There were already many people going out. Several fishermen wearing coffee-colored shirts and trousers and hats made from the shell of white pumpkins passed by. The smoke of their home-made cigars floated behind them like shreds of the morning mist. Women carrying big empty baskets were going to the tobacco fields. They walked fast, talking among themselves. Each woman had gathered the loose folds of her skirt in front and, twisting the end two or three times, passed it between her legs, pulling it up at the back, and slipping it inside her waist. The women seemed to be wearing trousers that reached only to their knees and flared at the thighs.

Day was quickly growing older. The east flamed redly and Baldo called to his mother, “Look, mother, God also cooks his breakfast.”

He went to play with the puppies. He sat on the bridge and took them on his lap one by one. He searched for fleas which he crushed between his thumbnails. “You, puppy. You, puppy,” he murmured softly. When he held the black-spotted puppy, he said, “My puppy. My puppy.”

Ambo, his seven-year old brother, awoke crying. Nana Elang could be heard patiently calling him to the kitchen. Later he came down with a ripe banana in his hand. Ambo was almost as tall as his older brother and he had stout husky legs. Baldo often called him the son of an Igorot. The home-made cotton shirt he wore was variously stained. The pocket was torn, and it flipped down. He ate the banana without peeling it.

“You foolish boy, remove the skin,” Baldo said.
“I will not,” Ambo said. “It is not your banana.” He took a big bite and swallowed it with exaggerated relish.
“But the skin is tart. It tastes bad.”
“You are not eating it,” Ambo said. The rest of the banana vanished in his mouth.
He sat beside Baldo and both played with the puppies. The mother dog had not yet returned and the puppies were becoming hungry and restless. They sniffed the hands of Ambo, licked his fingers. They tried to scramble up his breast to lick his mouth, but he brushed them down. Baldo laughed. He held the black-spotted puppy closely, fondled it lovingly. “My puppy,” he said. “My puppy.”
Ambo played with the other puppies, but he soon grew tired of them. He wanted the black-spotted one. He sidled close to Baldo and put out a hand to caress the puppy nestling contentedly in the crook of his brother’s arm. But Baldo struck the hand away. “Don’t touch my puppy,” he said. “My puppy.”
Ambo begged to be allowed to hold the black-spotted puppy. But Baldo said he would not let him hold the black-spotted puppy because he would not peel the banana. Ambo then said that he would obey his older brother next time, for all time. Baldo would not believe him; he refused to let him touch the puppy.

Ambo rose to his feet. He looked longingly at the black-spotted puppy in Baldo’s arms. Suddenly he bent down and tried to snatch the puppy away. But Baldo sent him sprawling in the dust with a deft push. Ambo did not cry. He came up with a fistful of sand which he flung in his brother’s face. But as he started to run away, Baldo thrust out his leg and tripped him. In complete silence, Ambo slowly got up from the dust, getting to his feet with both hands full of sand which again he cast at his older brother. Baldo put down the puppy and leaped upon Ambo.

Seeing the black-spotted puppy waddling away, Ambo turned around and made a dive for it. Baldo saw his intention in time and both fell on the puppy which began to howl loudly, struggling to get away. Baldo cursed Ambo and screamed at him as they grappled and rolled in the sand. Ambo kicked and bit and scratched without a sound. He got hold of Baldo’s hair and ear and tugged with all his might. They rolled over and over and then Baldo was sitting on Ambo’s back, pummeling him with his fists. He accompanied every blow with a curse. “I hope you die, you little demon,” he said between sobs, for he was crying and he could hardly see. Ambo wriggled and struggled and tried to bite Baldo’s legs. Failing, he buried his face in the sand and howled lustily.

Baldo now left him and ran to the black-spotted puppy which he caught up in his arms, holding it against his throat. Ambo followed, crying out threats and curses. He grabbed the tail of the puppy and jerked hard. The puppy howled shrilly and Baldo let it go, but Ambo kept hold of the tail as the dog fell to the ground. It turned around and snapped at the hand holding its tail. Its sharp little teeth sank into the fleshy edge of Ambo’s palm.

With a cry, Ambo snatched away his hand from the mouth of the enraged puppy. At that moment the window of the house facing the street was pushed violently open and the boys’ father, Tang Ciaco, looked out. He saw the blood from the toothmarks on Ambo’s hand. He called out inarticulately and the two brothers looked up in surprise and fear. Ambo hid his bitten hand behind him. Baldo stopped to pick up the black-spotted puppy, but Tang Ciaco shouted hoarsely to him not to touch the dog. At Tang Ciaco’s angry voice, the puppy had crouched back snarling, its pink lips drawn back, the hair on its back rising. “The dog has gone mad,” the man cried, coming down hurriedly. By the stove in the kitchen, he stopped to get a sizeable piece of firewood, throwing an angry look and a curse at Nana Elang for letting her sons play with the dogs. He removed a splinter or two, then hurried down the ladder, cursing in a loud angry voice. Nana Elang ran to the doorway and stood there silently fingering her skirt.

Baldo and Ambo awaited the coming of their father with fear written on their faces. Baldo hated his father as much as he feared him. He watched him now with half a mind to flee as Tang Ciaco approached with the piece of firewood held firmly in one hand. He is a big, gaunt man with thick bony wrists and stoop shoulders. A short-sleeved cotton shirt revealed his sinewy arms on which the blood-vessels stood out like roots. His short pants showed his bony-kneed, hard-muscled legs covered with black hair. He was a carpenter. He had come home drunk the night before. He was not a habitual drunkard, but now and then he drank great quantities of basi and came home and beat his wife and children. He would blame them for their hard life and poverty. “You are a prostitute,” he would roar at his wife, and as he beat his children, he would shout, “I will kill you both, you bastards.” If Nana Elang ventured to remonstrate, he would beat them harder and curse her for being an interfering whore. “I am king in my house,” he would say.

Now as he approached the two, Ambo cowered behind his elder brother. He held onto Baldo’s undershirt, keeping his wounded hand at his back, unable to remove his gaze from his father’s close-set, red-specked eyes. The puppy with a yelp slunk between Baldo’s legs. Baldo looked at the dog, avoiding his father’s eyes.

Tang Ciaco roared at them to get away from the dog: “Fools! Don’t you see it is mad?” Baldo laid a hand on Ambo as they moved back hastily. He wanted to tell his father it was not true, the dog was not mad, it was all Ambo’s fault, but his tongue refused to move. The puppy attempted to follow them, but Tang Ciaco caught it with a sweeping blow of the piece of firewood. The puppy was flung into the air. It rolled over once before it fell, howling weakly. Again the chunk of firewood descended, Tang Ciaco grunting with the effort he put into the blow, and the puppy ceased to howl. It lay on its side, feebly moving its jaws from which dark blood oozed. Once more Tang Ciaco raised his arm, but Baldo suddenly clung to it with both hands and begged him to stop. “Enough, father, enough. Don’t beat it anymore,” he entreated. Tears flowed down his upraised face.

Tang Ciaco shook him off with an oath. Baldo fell on his face in the dust. He did not rise, but cried and sobbed and tore his hair. The rays of the rising sun fell brightly upon him, turned to gold the dust that he raised with his kicking feet.

stick beating

Tang Ciaco dealt the battered puppy another blow and at last it lay limpy still. He kicked it over and watched for a sign of life. The puppy did not move where it lay twisted on its side.
He turned his attention to Baldo.

“Get up,” he said, hoarsely, pushing the boy with his foot.
Baldo was deaf. He went on crying and kicking in the dust. Tang Ciaco struck him with the piece of wood in his hand and again told him to get up. Baldo writhed and cried harder, clasping his hands over the back of his head. Tang Ciaco took hold of one of the boy’s arms and jerked him to his feet. Then he began to beat him, regardless of where the blows fell.

Baldo encircled his head with his loose arm and strove to free himself, running around his father, plunging backward, ducking and twisting. “Shameless son of a whore,” Tang Ciaco roared. “Stand still, I’ll teach you to obey me.” He shortened his grip on the arm of Baldo and laid on his blows. Baldo fell to his knees, screaming for mercy. He called on his mother to help him.

Nana Elang came down, but she hesitated at the foot of the ladder. Ambo ran to her. “You too,” Tang Ciaco cried, and struck at the fleeing Ambo. The piece of firewood caught him behind the knees and he fell on his face. Nana Elang ran to the fallen boy and picked him up, brushing his clothes with her hands to shake off the dust.
Tang Ciaco pushed Baldo toward her. The boy tottered forward weakly, dazed and trembling. He had ceased to cry aloud, but he shook with hard, spasmodic sobs which he tried vainly to stop.
“Here take your child,” Tang Ciaco said, thickly.
He faced the curious students and neighbors who had gathered by the side of the road. He yelled at them to go away. He said it was none of their business if he killed his children.
“They are mine,” he shouted. “I feed them and I can do anything I like with them.”
The students ran hastily to school. The neighbors returned to their work.
Tang Ciaco went to the house, cursing in a loud voice. Passing the dead puppy, he picked it up by its hind legs and flung it away. The black and white body soared through the sunlit air; fell among the tall corn behind the house. Tang Ciaco, still cursing and grumbling, strode upstairs. He threw the chunk of firewood beside the stove. He squatted by the low table and began eating the breakfast his wife had prepared for him.
Nana Elang knelt by her children and dusted their clothes. She passed her hand over the red welts on Baldo, but Baldo shook himself away. He was still trying to stop sobbing, wiping his tears away with his forearm. Nana Elang put one arm around Ambo. She sucked the wound in his hand. She was crying silently.
When the mother of the puppies returned, she licked the remaining four by the small bridge of woven split bamboo. She lay down in the dust and suckled her young. She did not seem to miss the black-spotted puppy.
Afterward Baldo and Ambo searched among the tall corn for the body of the dead puppy. Tang Ciaco had gone to work and would not be back till nightfall. In the house, Nana Elang was busy washing the breakfast dishes. Later she came down and fed the mother dog. The two brothers were entirely hidden by the tall corn plants. As they moved about among the slender stalks, the corn-flowers shook agitatedly. Pollen scattered like gold dust in the sun, falling on the fuzzy• green leaves.
When they found the dead dog, they buried it in one corner of the field. Baldo dug the grove with a sharp-pointed stake. Ambo stood silently by, holding the dead puppy.
When Baldo finished his work, he and his brother gently placed the puppy in the hole. Then they covered the dog with soft earth and stamped on the grave until the disturbed ground was flat and hard again. With difficulty they rolled a big stone on top of the grave. Then Baldo wound an arm around the shoulders of Ambo and without a word they hurried up to the house.
The sun had risen high above the Katayaghan hills, and warm, golden sunlight filled Nagrebcan. The mist on the tobacco fields had completely dissolved.    END