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Filipino Folktales For Kids Battle of the Crabs

Born and raised in Malaysia, Mazlan is proud of his Malaysian and Asian heritage. He likes to write about its culture and current issues.

Bedtime story for kids 'Battle of the Crab'

Bedtime story for kids 'Battle of the Crab'

Filipino Folktales

There are several Filipino folktales and this Battle of the Crabs is one of their popular stories. It is about the land crabs trying to wage war with the mighty sea waves.

Before we go to this story, let's get an overview of the history of Filipino folktales and fairy tales.

What Makes Ancient Filipino Folktales Unique

The Philippines, with 7,107 islands and numerous ethnic and linguistic groups, abound with varied folktales and legends. When the Spanish occupied the country for more than three centuries, the richness of these folktales was never documented not until late 1889, but it was only for one folktale!

Filipino Folktales Documented By the Americans

When the Americans occupied the Philippines (1898 to 1946) teachers, linguists, and anthropologists were assigned to the country. They collected and published more Filipino folktales. Working with the locals and tribes throughout the country, the collections of folktales were varied and were usually animal tales and stories of magic, spirits, and religion. There were also humorous and romantic fairytales.

Some of these stories are quite violent in nature as the various tribes will depict their way of life and their survival in the folk tales.

Compilation of Filipino Folktales by Mabel (Cook) Cole

The anthropologists, husband and wife team of Fay-Cooper Cole and Mabel Cook Cole collected more than 58 stories from 11 ethnolinguistic groups.

I choose to retell the story of the Battle of the Crab that was compiled and annotated by Mabel (Cook) Cole in 1916 as it is interesting and easily adapted to a children's story.

This story on the Battle of the Crab is from the Visayan tribe, the largest Filipino ethnic group.

I changed and adapted the original story slightly to suit young kids, today.

In this Filipino folk tales 'Battle of the Crabs', this young crab asked "Are we afraid of the waves?"

In this Filipino folk tales 'Battle of the Crabs', this young crab asked "Are we afraid of the waves?"

Filipino Folktales Battle of The Crabs

Once upon a time, the land crabs lived close by the sea and they lived in peace with all their neighbors including the sea waves.

But the sea waves love to sing and will sing all day long. The elderly crabs had tolerated this for years and never complained.

Not Happy With The Waves

The younger crabs were not so tolerant and they decided to do something about it.

So, at one of their big parties, one of the younger crabs took the courage to ask, "The waves have been singing non-stop every day. They sing so loud that we cannot sleep at all. Some of us or maybe most of us cannot stand this anymore. Can we do something about this?"

There was silence in the crowd, nobody dared say anything.

Let's Go To War

'Are we afraid of the waves? Someone please says something" asked back the young crab.

Finally one of the older crabs says " Maybe we should go and talk to them".

"We had done that before, yet they still sing. They just ignored our pleas" said the young crab.

"You are right. Maybe we should do something. Not just talk," answered the oldest of the crabs, "Why don't we declare war on them?"

The others looked at each other and they finally agreed to this suggestion.

They also decided that tomorrow shall be the day and all-male crabs are to put on their fighting gear and go to war with the sea waves.

The tiny crabs crawling along this long shoreline in their war with the seawaves in the Battle of the Crabs

The tiny crabs crawling along this long shoreline in their war with the seawaves in the Battle of the Crabs

Warnings From the Shrimps

The next day as they marched towards the sea they met up with a group of shrimps.

"I have never seen all of you in these uniforms before. So, where are you heading to my good friends?" asked the shrimps.

"We are going to war. We are tired of listening to the sea waves singing all day long. We want to end all that. We will fight the waves," answered the crabs.

"Are you serious? These sea waves are strong and mighty. I don't t think you can fight them. It is best that you forget the idea and go home to your family now" said the shrimps, "Look at you. You are so small and your legs are weak. It can't even support your own body. You have to walk with your legs bent and your body is almost touching the ground" laughed the shrimps.

The Crabs Are Angry

The crabs didn't like this at all and were angry with the shrimps. They jumped on top of the shrimps and make them promise to help them in their war with the waves otherwise they will be killed.

Filipino folktale about the war between the crabs and sea waves starring the crabs, the sea waves and the shrimp.

Filipino folktale about the war between the crabs and sea waves starring the crabs, the sea waves and the shrimp.

Marching Together

The shrimps had no choice but to agree and together they marched to the shore.

As they neared the shore, the crabs noticed the shrimp's eyes were different and the heads were facing the wrong way.

They all laughed at the shrimps and asked "You guys looked kind of funny. Why are your faces and eyes facing the wrong way?"

"You can laugh and say it's funny but that is our weapon. We can see what others may not see" replied the shrimps.

The crabs fell silent and did not give any more nasty comments about the shrimps.


Unknown to the crabs, the waves were listening to all these conversations and took the opportunity to attack. They came crashing down onto the shores.

The shrimps saw the waves coming and quickly ran for cover. The crabs, however, were in the opposite direction and didn't see the waves' attack and got submerged in the huge wave and drowned.

Waiting For Their Husband

The female crabs who were waiting patiently for their husbands and children to come back from the war were getting worried as there were no signs of them.

They all decided to leave their young at home. Cautiously, they crept to the shore to check on their husband and children in case they needed help.

But as soon as they reach the shore, the giant waves came crashing down and drowned them as well.

Drowned by the seawaves

Drowned by the seawaves

The Young Crabs

The shrimps who managed to run for cover saw all these happenings and felt sorry for their crab friends. They decided to visit their homes and meet up with the young crabs.

The shrimps told the young crabs the fate of their parents and how courageous their fathers, mothers, and brothers were.

So, until today if you go to the beach you will see the young crabs running back and forth finding the courage to fight the waves.

When the waves come towards the shore, the young crabs will try. But, somehow, can never find the courage. They will run into the hundreds of holes that they have dug up along the shore for cover.

The Battle of The Crabs Moral Lesson

What do you think is the moral of this story?

That we should not do things we don't understand? Or we should not go against the mighty power or those stronger than us?

Love to hear your thoughts on this.

More Children's Story and Filipino Folktales

For more Filipino folktales, read the tale of 'The Miraculous Cow', a story of how two boys tricked a simple country folk.

For other folktales and children's stories on the tale of mouse deer, then click on Stories for Kids - Story of Mouse Deer & Crocodile - Children's Bedtime Story, or Bedtime stories - Story of Mouse Deer and a Tiger or Bedtime Story - Story of Mouse Deer and a Farmer - A Children's Story.

For Chinese zodiac story, click on Chinese Zodiac Story : A Bedtime Story that explains how the Chinese lunar year was named after animals.

© 2012 Mazlan A

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