A Filipino Legend of the Turtle

Updated on December 10, 2019
 A legend from the Philippines.
A legend from the Philippines. | Source

The turtle is a sign of perseverance, and that is if you heard the story about the turtle and the rabbit in which the two had a race. If you're familiar with the story, you know it didn't end as expected on which one won the race. Rabbit was so self-assured he would win so he decided to rest under a tree but fell asleep. Even being slow, the turtle continued on his slow pace, went passed to the sleeping rabbit and turtle eventually won the race.

Why turtles carry their shell? It's one question that can entertain the curious mind. Let's find out in this Filipino legend that will remind us to be kind and humble.

Pago is only 3 and 1/2 ft. in height at the age of 30. He is being  bullied and maltreated by the townspeople.
Pago is only 3 and 1/2 ft. in height at the age of 30. He is being bullied and maltreated by the townspeople. | Source

A long time ago, there was this 'out of the ordinary guy' who lives in a far away northern part of the Philippines. His name is Pago and Pago is very much different from the rest of the people.

In what way? Pago, at at the age of 30 is only three and a half feet in height. Even his hands and feet are small. And because of this, Pago was being bullied in his town. People make fun of him everytime they see him pass by the river bank. Even in the market place people make fun of him.

Pago has a nipa hut by the river bank and he lives there all by himself. Some rumors goes that his parents left him there when they saw his condition. Then, a childless old lady took him in. She had professed to Pago that Pago has an older sibling named Toro before she passed away.

"When you were newly born, your older sibling Toro was ordered to get woods from the forest. And Toro didn't return," said the old lady to Pago. Many believes that wild animals had gotten up to Toro. Or that Toro might had sank to a quagmire."

But Pago believes that he will see his older sibling one day and that he is alive. He always go to the forest, hoping to find his sibling Toro.

Then one day, Pago saw a strange bird on his search in the forest. The bird was beautiful with very attractive and colorful feathers. Something strange about it though, the bird's chirping sounds was more like asking for a help. Now he knows why, the feet of the bird got caught up on the tallest branch of the tree.

Feeling sorry for the bird, Pago climbed the tree and helped the bird, releasing its feet on the branch of the tree that caught its tiny feet.

The colorful bird turned into a lovely lady surrounded by strange lights.
The colorful bird turned into a lovely lady surrounded by strange lights. | Source

The bird changed its appearance to Pago's surprised!

A lovely lady, all wrapped up in a bright, white light standing in front of him.

"You're a fairy?" Pago asked in amazement.

"I've been watching over you Pago for a long time," said the fairy. "I know all the hardship you are going through in your life. And because of your good heart, I'm giving this to you."

A big diamond appeared on the fairy's hand and she added, "This would be enough for you to start over. If you are going to used this on starting a business, you will surely succeed."

Pago reached for the diamond and the fairy suddenly disappeared. He sold the diamond to a foreigner and he used the significant amount of money he got for his business capital. He started different kinds of businesses and guess what? Pago succeeded.

But Pago became famous for his construction of stone houses. Pago got very rich and popular in his town, all the people are looking up to him now.

A typhoon came into the town. Then a flood started.
A typhoon came into the town. Then a flood started. | Source

Pago decided to leave his nipa hut. On a beautiful part of the town, he built a tall, big house and he suddenly changed. The former Pago who's shy and gentle now became unkind and snobbish. He doesn't know how to share his wealth.

"I am not going to be poor, ever again! And I am not going to be maltreated again by anyone!" Pago said to the people.

Then one day a big typhoon came. A lot of people evacuated the town. The houses that Pago built got carried away by the strong wind. The people also learned that the materials that was used to build their houses are all of poor quality. They have been deceived! And they were mad at Pago for doing so.

One night, Pago was awakened by a continuous knocking on the door. And so he opened it.

"My brother Pago!" a man on the front door said. He is tall and looks so much like Pago and his arms and feet are of normal size and length.

"Toro? Is that you?" Pago said. "Yes, this is me my brother. What they told you that I was already dead wasn't true. I tried my luck in the city, I worked in there but I wasn't as lucky as you are. Your house is so big. Maybe you could let me stay in here with you my brother."

Toro was about to hug Pago but his younger brother avoided it.

"I am sorry, but we're no longer suitable to live together. Another reason, I am not used to having someone living with me," Pago answered.

"But brother, help me! The rain is pouring hard and I have nowhere else to go!" pleaded Toro. But he hadn't changed Pago's mind so he just left his place feeling sorry.

It keeps raining hard for few more days and the water keeps rising. Only Pago's house remained visible and standing against the harsh weather.

The townspeople came asking Pago to let them shelter into his house until the typhoon stops. But Pago remained deaf to his pleading neighbors.

One night, Pago got awakened again from Toro's knocking. "Pago, my brother, open the door. I need a shelter against the rain."

Pago opened his window and look outside. He saw his older brother who is soaking wet with the flood water all the way up to his neck. And so are the townspeople that are with him.

"We're drowning! Help us Pago!" they yelled.

"I worked hard alone on what I had reached in life. This house is all mine! Had you all forgotten how you all laughed and maltreated me before?"


All of a sudden a strange light appeared on Toro's eyes. His appearance changed too. And with it, a deafening thunder and a sharp lighting appeared.

"I didn't know that you will change your character Pago. From now on, that house will always be with you! That house is all yours!" the angry fairy said who disguised as Toro.

The townspeople witnessed how Pago's house slowly disappeared. "It got dissolved on the flood water!" the people exclaimed.

The rain started to cease and the fairy changed its appearance to a dragonfly. A sign that the typhoon would end and the flood water will subside.

There's no trace left from Pago's properties as the fairy took back everything from him. And on the river bank where Pago's nipa hut used to stand, the townspeople spotted a slow-walking odd animal. The animal would stop and hide his head every time it sees people, as if being bashful.

Another odd thing they noticed about the strange animal that suddenly showed up is that the shell is as hard as a stone that seems to be a house attached to its body that the animal carries even when it is walking.

"What a shy little creature. And it's slow too," they murmured. And since the animal has a lot of resemblance to Pago, they started calling the animal pagong, the Filipino word for turtle.

Some interesting turtle facts.

* Sixty different bones all connected together makes up the turtle's shell and it has nerve endings.

* The turtle's senses are excellent, and that include its sense of touch, smell, hearing and eyesight.

* Turtle's had evolved before other animals, birds, and mammals. They have been on this planet for already over 200 million years.

Time for a fun quiz!

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Had you touched a turtle's shell? There's a Philippine superstition that touching the shell would make one forgetful.

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