Magic Tales from Lipa, Batangas by Amparo Reyes, 1925 - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore Magic Tales from Lipa, Batangas by Amparo Reyes, 1925 - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

Magic Tales from Lipa, Batangas by Amparo Reyes, 1925

This page contains the complete transcription of the 1925 ethnographic paper written by one Amparo Reyes from .jpeg scans of the originals made available by the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections. Corrections for grammar had been made in certain parts but no attempt was made to rewrite the original paper. Original pagination is indicated for citation purposes.
Henry Otley-Beyer Collection
[Cover page.]

Tagalog Paper No. 478.



Amparo Reyes.

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  1. TAGALOG: Lipa, Batangas Province.
  2. Summary:Folklore: Magic Tales.

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March 1, 1925

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Amparo Reyes.

Juanang Ilaya’s Magic.

Juana was the name of the lovely maiden. She was said to be the most beautiful and most fascinating of all the maidens in the town of Lipa where she was born. Suitors from the different parts of the province came to court this young lady. None of the suitors won her love, but deep in her heart was hidden the name of a young man, Mario by name. Mario was a youth known for his bravery and courage, but one of his faults was that he used to fall in love seven times a day. He loved many and fooled many. In spite of this, Juana had faith in him so dearly in her heart that she refused to accept even the visits of her male friends in her home for fear that Mario might be jealous.

It was in a night of that blissful month of May when Mario sat near Juana in her house. Mario was bidding her his last farewell. He was to leave for Manila to continue his career. Nothing but the sobbing of Maria could be heard. “How bitter is this hour,” she sobbed as her tears fell down on her rosy cheeks. Mario grasped Juana’s hands, and then departed.

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Days, weeks, and months passed but no letter came from Mario. Juana was constantly waiting for a note that he promised but in vain. Years passed and nothing was heard from him.

One sunny afternoon, while Juana was in her garden, a mail carrier handed her a letter. She quickly opened, read it, but her bewitching eyes glittered feverishly as she stared at the letter. She then broke out into ravings. It was a letter from Mario stating that he was already married to a Manila girl. Juana cursed him. Then, a state of delirium followed. Due to her agony, she ran away following the course of a winding valley near her home. She walked and walked until she reached a large tree called “baliti” where she rested and tried to console her heart.

Her parents pursued her, but they could not find any trace of her. In that “baliti,” she found a large cavity and made that her abode. She then decided to live in that place where she became a witch.

Near the “baliti” tree was a stream of pure, cool, clear water. The men and the boys in the village nearby used to descend to that stream with their “bombong” (a bamboo used for getting water) to get water for drink. At times when nothing could be heard except the murmuring sounds of the flow of the stream and the sweet wailing songs of the birds, this stream was often haunted by Juana to quench her thirst and to find consolation for her forsaken heart.

It was twilight when a handsome young farmer tired

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by a day’s labor in his “caingin,” trotted down the winding valley and rested near the stream. No sooner had he sat down beneath the shade of a Lipa tree when he sat, he suddenly heard somebody crossing the stream. He turned his eyes and at his left side he beheld a beautiful young woman dressed in red skirt and camisa. She was tall and very lovely in countenance. The dress in which she was clad made her the loveliest and more beautiful than ever. The youth was dazzled by the beauty of this lovely apparition before him. The maiden smiled with a sweet and lovely smile. She became more beautiful as the youth fixed his eyes on her. He could not believe that in such a time and in such a place, he could behold such a beautiful female being as that. “Am I dreaming?” he uttered to himself. He was so bewitched by her beauty that he instantly proposed to her. The maiden then took him to her home in the cavity of the “baliti” tree. He happened to look at her feet. To his surprise, he found that they were those of a horse’s feet. Thoughts of the rumored witch called “Juanang Ilaya” came to him. In his great fear, he ran as fast as he could, but the witch tried to pursue him. He could not escape, for she ran faster than he. He begged her to free him, but Juana said, “I love you. Do not run away. Stay with me and do not fear.” The man, because of fear, and because of her fascinating beauty thought of not leaving her. He found her to be an agreeable companion, and stayed with her for several days. Thoughts of his old parents in his house

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made him lonely and sickly. He approached Juana and begged, “Will you let me visit my father and mother? Allow me and I shall be back within a few days.” “Although I know you will not fulfill your promise, yet I am willing to grant your request. Take these seeds, plant them, and you will find them useful,” murmured Juana. As she handed him the seeds, she suddenly disappeared. The man, in great horror, ran as fast as he could until he reached the stream. To his amazement, he found an old, ugly, dark, wrinkled woman meeting him. He heard her moaning and lamenting. “Stop for a while. I thank God I have fulfilled the yearnings and desires of my broken heart. You saved me from my endless suffering caused by a young man like you. This is the end of my bitter suffering and I have to end my life. I transformed myself into a lovely and beautiful maiden, enticed you, and with whom you stayed for several days. Take this cane, bring it with you wherever you go, and it will be of great use to you. It will save you from dangers which sooner or later will come to you. Depart from me now,” said the old woman.

At a glance, the old woman disappeared from his sight. Because of the cane given by the woman, he became renowned for courage and bravery for no bullet could pierce his skin and no sword could penetrate through his body.

He then planted the seeds given to him by the witch and after several days, many bamboo trees grew. Out of these, he built a house where he lived until his death. At midnight

[p. 5]

after the trees were cut down, this young farmer and the people could hear a sweet sailing song sang by a lovely maiden somewhere near the place where the bamboo trees were cut down. But every time the people tried to approach the place, the woman suddenly disappeared and the song gradually died away in the air.

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The Magic Chicken.

Somewhere along the shore of Taal Lake is a nook where once stood the old Lipa, a prosperous town which had many hundred years ago been over-flooded by the water of the lake, on account of the sinking of an island floating on the lake. Today, if one goes to this spot, one sees nothing of the remains of the ruin but the walls of the church once having altars filled with the architecture of Medieval Castille. The once thickly inhabited portion of the lake shore covered with wooden and bamboo houses and perfumed by the fragrance of the flowering plants, is now but a wilderness covered with grass, shrubs, trees, vines, which are enlivened by birds, snakes, lizards, hogs, fowls, and deer. Nothing remains of the old Lipa; everything had for long been put in the historical pages of oblivion; but a tale is told from generation to generation about the magic chicken.

Once upon a time in old Lipa, there lived a very beauti-

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ful maiden named Charing. She was of common height, her face being tinged by the ardor of the shining sun which presented a color common to Malayan maidens. She was tender and sweet. She did not have any striking features; but there was something in her beaming and tantalizing eyes, in her sweet and soft voice, and in her fresh and tender smile a beauty which was incomparable. Beauty, indeed, is a power in itself and so beautiful was this maiden that all the handsome and bravest youths of the land were in love with her. Among them was one whom she secretly loved. He was the handsomest, the kindest, the noblest, and the bravest. This man was Pedro. She loved him, but she did not let him know it. In front of him, she appeared unkind and indifferent.

Pedro, being a Filipino, was brown in complexion. He thought that Charing did not love him and was not all pleased with his suit. He did not know that Charing was to be patiently wooed before her favorable reply could be won; he did not know that she was a typical Filipina of purity and constancy and that she was only trying his earnestness and patience before she gave him her heart. For more than ten times, he talked with her, wrote to her, but she replied [to] him with silence.

It was a night of May when Pedro was at his bamboo home sitting by his table with a feather pen attempting to write his farewell message to Charing in the blinking light of an oil lamp. The night to him as had usually been was of

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pain and of anguish. His face was pale and haggard, and his countenance revealed a feeling of deep suffering, suffering as painful as that given by a heart wounded in love. He sighed, but in vain. He tried to write but because of an uncontrollable passion, he could not. He sobbed and tears rolled from his eyes. For several hours, he wept on his table and fell unconscious. At last, he succeeded in writing his farewell letter in which he said that by the time she received the letter, he would be sailing in the deep blue sea of death to live the life of the forlorn and brokenhearted.

When Charing received this, she fell unconscious, and from that time on had been sick in sorrow for Pedro. While Pedro was sailing on his boat to the deepest part of the lake, Charing was lying and suffering for his loss. As he rowed his boat, a large white fish followed him. When he jumped into the water, he happened to take hold of one of the fish’s fins. The fish opened its mouth and said, “Why do you drown yourself?” Pedro was surprised to see a talking fish. “Do you not fear, I am here to help you in your quest. Pray tell me, and your burden will be relieved.” Pedro at first hesitated, but at last he was convinced that the fish had supernatural power. He told the fish about his grief, and the fish replied, “You just do what I tell you to do and you can easily have your desire. Go with me to the shore where I shall transform you into a magic chicken. Go under the house of Charing and chirp there as loud as you can. When she hears your chirping, she will order you to be brought near

[p. 8]


Pedro was then transformed into a chicken. When he was already under Charing’s house, he chirped as loud as he could till Charing heard it. At the sight of the chicken, she suddenly became strong and well. Soon after that, the chicken became the pet of the household, and Charing could not eat or sleep without the chicken near her.

One night, Charing was awakened and to her astonishment, she found Pedro at her side instead of the chicken. Both of them were unable to speak so that for a moment, the two stood in silence. At last, Charing smiled and Pedro began to speak, telling her his bitter suffering and how he was transformed into a chicken which had cured her of her sorrow.

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Aswang and Mario.

In the old town of Lipa, there once lived a handsome young man. He was pure and noble-hearted and was called Mario, the curly. He was stalwart, brown and a pure Filipino in blood and features, but his hair was like that of a Negro’s. He fell in love with a beautiful maiden having more than twenty suitors. At one time, while the maiden was washing clothes in a clear stream at the outskirts of the town near her house, Mario approached her to express his

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love. The maiden replied that she could not reciprocate it, although in reality she loved him secretly. So great was his disappointment that at once he bade her farewell with much sorrow and grief.

On his way, he met an old man with a long beard. The old man told him to follow him and obeyed. They passed through a forest into a cave in a mountain. On reaching the cave, the old man said, “I bring you here to give you a blessing. Among the youths of the land, you are the noblest and the kindest, and it is to you that I dedicate this blessing if you want to have it.” Mario replied, “If you think I am entitled to possess it, then I shall be willing to have it.” “But promise me that you will not use it for any wicked purpose,” said the old man. He promised to live uprightly as he had been, and the old man handed him a white small handkerchief, “Ask everything and that handkerchief will help you in any desire you want, provided that what you ask is for the good of someone,” said the old man.

He then thanked the old man and went directly to his home.

In that same town, there lived another suitor to the maiden courted by Mario. This [man] was called Aswang for he was a leader of some bandits living in the mountains. Aswang, because of his wickedness, was despised by Laura (the name of the maiden we are talking about). The greatness of his

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affection forced him to resort to evil means in trying to make Laura love him. He planned to kidnap her by the help of his men. So when Luring was washing her clothes in the stream alone, Aswang with his men tied her hands and brought her to their cave in the mountains. After that, Mario passed by the stream. He found there the clothes lying without the owner. He looked around and found many footprints on the sand by the bank of the stream. The footprints led to a path in a forest. He followed the path until he reached the mountains.

While Aswang was convincing Laura to love him, Mario was vainfully seeking for her in the mountains. He was overtaken by darkness and because of weariness and hunger, he was forced to rest. In his repose, he dreamed of the maiden and the cave where the maiden was. When he awoke, he started to find the place. He peeped through a hole in the cave and found Laura sleeping with an old woman. The bandits who were guarding the cave saw him, and they all reached to box and to wrestle with him. As he had the handkerchief with him, the one given by the old man to him, he was not afraid to fight with them. He rushed to them and knocked them down one by one. On that night, he slept by the entrance of the cave. Early in the morning, Laura found him still sleeping. So great was her surprise that for a moment, she could not move, and could not tell if she were in a dream. He awoke and found himself in front of her. She told him

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of her capture.

Mario then brought her to her home. Because of the joy of Laura’s parents to see her again, they invited him to dine with them. For the first time in his life, Mario felt some hints of hope in his suit. While they were about to eat, Aswang and his men came. They tried to show that they could perform some miraculous things. On the benches of Laura’s home, there were many plow shares and Aswang and his men said that they would eat those plow-shares. They began eating the plow shares one by one. As the table was already set when Aswang and his men came, the parents of Laura because of their hospitality, invited them to eat also. When they were about to eat, Mario waved his handkerchief and Aswang and his men could not and were not able to eat the food on the table. Upon the surprise of all, Mario waved his handkerchief again and Aswang and his men were able to eat. After eating, Aswang hanged a jar full of water from the roof of the house, struck the jar with a bolo so that it broke into pieces, but the mystery was that the water remained hanging in the air. Everybody was again surprised. But Mario then again waved his handkerchief and the pieces of the broken jar all jumped and returned to the water and were formed into whole again. He then took a small coconut dipper and asked Aswang and his men to lift it. Each of them attempted and tried, but all were unable. So, in great shame, they left Laura’s house, and from that time on, they never again attempt-

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ed to appear in that town.

Mario and Laura, after several months, were married and lived happily for many years. Mario used his handkerchief in making the blind see, the lame walk, the dumb speak, and the deaf hear, and in many other humanitarian purposes that brought him untold benefits, joy, and blessings to hundreds and hundreds of people.

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The Fairy Tree.

The old town of Lipa is noted for its sons having “anting-anting.” One of these men was “Don Felipe.” There was a large forest some miles away from the town. In the midst of this forest was a very large “barbanera” tree, which was said to be haunted by an old witch that lived somewhere in the forest. This tree was also visited by a company of snakes every noon. The snakes had a king of their own. The king snake was the biggest of all the snakes. It had three heads with a brilliant diamond called “zula” in the middle mouth. All the brave youths of the town were afraid to enter this forest, and no one could dare approach the tree because of the witch and the snakes. But there was one young man named Felipe, gifted with extraordinary courage who dared to enter the forest to go near the so-called “fairy tree.” One midnight hour, when the moon was at the

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zenith of its fullness, he started to go. The wilderness was being illuminated by the yellowish and cool light of the moon that sparkled among the leaves of the trees, and as the branches of the fairy tree were being swayed by the rustle and whistle of the midnight air, the young man, Felipe, began climbing the tree. He awaited and watched whatever might appear. The night was serene. Nothing could be heard except the rustling and whistling of the wind, the songs of the crickets and the wailing songs of some night birds in a neighboring thicket, when suddenly, he heard the songs of some sweet voices singing [a] song which was sweet and melancholic. The ground which was shaded by the extended branches of the tree was beautiful but somewhat bare, and on looking down, he saw twelve beautiful fairies encircling the tree as they danced gracefully and sang their music and uncommon beauty indeed bewitched Felipe. They sang for an hour, and then, they in a sudden disappeared.

For a time, silence prevailed when again his attention was called by the noise of moving objects from the thicket from where he heard the melodious songs of the birds and the crickets. He then saw a moving brilliant object sparkling in the moonlight coming from the thicket. Felipe fixed his eyes on it, and found that it was carried by the three-headed snake in its mouth and to his amazement, he found that the three-headed snake was surrounded by a great number of snakes.

[p. 14]

Felipe before he came to the forest learned from somebody that in order that he could get the brilliant stone, he should drop one of the handkerchiefs on the snake and the snake would put this “zula” on the handkerchief. This, he did, and so the snakes left their light on it. When all the snakes were gone, he went down the tree and took the “zula,” covered it very well with the handkerchief, and kept it in his pocket. Then he alighted again the tree. Silence reigned again in the forest and after a moment, he found the old witch uprooting all the large trees near the tree where he was, and then throwing them with great velocity away from the forest. When the old woman saw him, she told him to come down. This command he obeyed. He had an “anting-anting,” a small idol of Jesus, which he kept in one of his pockets, and which gave him courage to face this witch. The witch then grasped him with the intention of throwing him away, but every time she touched him, she lost her strength and was unable to throw and defeat him. For many hours, the witch tried to throw him, but she was the one thrown at last. He then took the witch and bound her with a very large and strong vine till dawn. When it was almost daybreak, when the sun was beginning to send its gray lights in the eastern horizon, the witch asked him to free her and promised to give him her power and strength. He agreed and their agreement was fulfilled. So, he became the strongest man of the town with miraculous powers.

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It was already morning when Felipe returned to his home. At noon of the same day, the snakes returned to the place where they left their light, and finding it not there, they began searching for it. The snakes had their instinct of being able to locate the place where it was brought. They then traced and when they reached Felipe’s home, they crawled to his room where he was sleeping. He was awakened by the noise of the snakes and in wonder and in great fear, he jumped out of the window to escape bringing with him the stone and his idol of Jesus. He ran towards the lake and the snakes followed him. He was so terrified that on reaching the cliff of the lake, he instantly jumped into the water. All the snakes pursued him and jumped also. He dived and dived, and the snakes dived also following him. When he was about to be caught and eaten by some of the snakes, a beautiful mermaid embraced him and brought him safely to the bottom of the lake into her home in a crystal palace. The mermaid fell in love with him and so they married and lived happily together in the crystal palace. There, he found all kinds of fishes by looking through the walls of the palace. In spite of his happy life in the bottom of the lake, yet he longed to go to the land. The siren, or the mermaid, begged him to stay, but because she saw him always in sorrow, allowed him to go on condition that he would come back. Before leaving the place, the mermaid gave him a staff made of pearls. She accompanied him to the surface of the water and then, she returned home in her palace. When Felipe

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reached the shore, he found the snakes still waiting for him. Then, he jumped again into the water and the snakes followed him. He then appeared on the other side of the shore, and still the snakes followed him. On reaching the shore, he stroke the water with the staff his mermaid wife gave him. The surface of the water then began to boil until all the snakes died. Then, he entered the town, proud of his trophies.

He met all the strongest and bravest men in the province and challenged them one by one in wrestling, in duel, in magic and in all sorts of wonder. He defeated all of them.

He again went back to the forest to watch the beautiful fairies dancing around the fairy tree. He climbed again the tree and eagerly waited for the fairies. When he saw them coming, he hid himself among the leaves of the tree and watched them carefully as they danced gracefully and sang merrily. He fell in love with the most beautiful of the fairies he saw. He went down the tree and expressed his love with the selected one. The fairy at once accepted his love but he was first to kill a very large dragon that served as a menace to the fairies. This, he at once promised to do. The next morning, Felipe ventured to search for the dragon in the forest. He found him. He was amazed, for the dragon was so large that he could hardly move. The great beast laid across a brimming river of the forest, and without looking at its mouth, tail, and feet, one would think that it was not an animal, but a bridge across the river and this was the first thought of Felipe. But on step-

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ping on it, he found that it was not ground, but it was a dragon for it was soft. He then moved away, and looked at it carefully. To his amazement, he found that it was the dragon which he was going to challenge. Suddenly, the great beast moved and opened its blazing eyes. He, at a sudden, was swallowed. When he was at its mouth, he started to harm the animal. The first thing he did was the cutting of the liver into pieces. Then, he bore a large hole through to walls of its stomach and back, and went out. To his great joy, he found the fierce dragon lying dead on the river.

He cut off the head of the dragon and brought it back to the fairies who were anxiously waiting for him under the fairy tree. They jumped with joy and embraced him as a token of gratitude for what he had done for them. They then began dancing, encircling the tree while Felipe and the fairest of all the fairies were sitting side by side on the extended roots of the tree enjoying their time. After sometime, Felipe took the fairy as his wife. After several months of living with her, Felipe went to the town renowned for his wonderful accomplishments and magic power. The people wondered at his success and called him “Don Felipe.”

Meanwhile, while these things were happening, the wife in the sea had been patiently and wearily waiting for his return. She became suspicious that Felipe should not step on even a drop of water, for the minute he does it, would

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cause his death. He would surely sink into the sea and be with her again, and in case he refuses to tell his reasons for fulfilling his promise, he would be killed by the fishes of the mermaid.

When Felipe was returning to the forest to see his fairy, he happened to pass across a brook, and instantly he disappeared. He was taken back by his mermaid wife and from that time on, he was never again seen in Lipa.

Meanwhile, his fairy wife was constantly and patiently waiting for him. Years passed and still the fairy was often seen by some people sitting alone on the extended root of the tree while the other fairies encircled and danced around the tree.

After twenty long years of patient waiting, the fairy died, and the leaves and branches of the tree began to wither until the whole tree died and perished away.


March 1, 1925.

Notes and references:
Transcribed from “Magic Tales from Lipa,” by Amparo Reyes, 1925, online at the Henry Otley-Beyer Collection of the National Library of the Philippines Digital Collections.
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