Skip to main content

Filipino Folk Tales - The Miraculous Cow

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

Filipino Folk Tales - The Miraculous Cow

Filipino Folk Tales - The Miraculous Cow

Spanish Influence on The Philippines

If you are familiar with the Spanish folk tale 'The Ingenious Student', you will see the similarity to this Filipino folk tale, 'The Miraculous Cow.'

Although there is no evidence to prove this, the tale may have evolved from 'The Ingenious Student' since:

  • The Philippines was occupied by the Spanish for more than 300 years
  • During this period, the Hispanic influences are found in some of the traditional Filipino folk dances, music, language, literature, and religion
  • Spanish cultures and stories used to be taught in schools

Philippine Folk Tales

Whether this is conclusive or otherwise, The Miraculous Cow is a tale of ingenuity. Although the exploitation of ignorance was despicable and uncalled for, it is still a good read. In most Filipino folk tales, making fun of the 'simple folks' is not unusual.

I make minor changes to the story and hope you enjoy reading this version. Do not forget to share it with your friends and family members, too.

A tale of ingenuity and exploitation of the simple folks

Filipino Folk Tale - The Miraculous Cow

Every evening as the farmer drives home from the paddy field, his cow will follow from behind. As he drives along, he will sing his favorite song and the cow will occasionally join him in the singing.

Not knowing to the farmer, two boys Felipe and Ambrosio had been watching him for a few days already. Today, they decided to put their plan into action.

“I will quietly go to the back of the cart and untie the cow. We can then bring it back to our house,’ whispered Felipe to Ambrosio.

‘No, I will do it,’ replied Ambrosio.

Filipino Folktales : The farmer's old carreton in the story of The Miraculous Cow

Filipino Folktales : The farmer's old carreton in the story of The Miraculous Cow

The Sly Ambrosio

Ambrosio slowly approached the carreton, untied the cow, and gave the rope to Felipe. He then tied himself to the carreton, in place of the cow.

‘What’s the matter with you? Are you crazy? Untie yourself and let’s go back’ whispered Felipe angrily.

‘Don't worry about me. I have a plan. You go back with the cow and I will soon join you later' replied the shrewd Ambrosio.

The Missing Cow

After a while, the farmer realized the cow was not singing and he looked back to see why. To his surprise, he saw a boy instead of his beloved cow. He was frightened and at the same time shocked to see the boy.

'Who are you and why are you tied to my cart? Where is my cow?' asked the farmer furiously. 'You good for nothing thief, give me back my cow!’

''Please do not be angry with me. It is not my fault.' said Ambrosio. 'Please calm down and let me tell you my story.'

Ambrosio's Story

'Be quick as I have no patience with thieves like you' replied the farmer.

‘Many years ago, when I was a small boy, I was very naughty and always made my mother angry. I lost my father when I was still a baby and my mother had to earn a living to take care of us.'

'When she is tired, she gets upset easily. One day I spilled a pail of milk that she had just brought in from the barn. Without even thinking, she cursed me and said something like ‘I wish you were a cow’. Suddenly I was changed into a cow. It freaked me out but now I guessed I must have repaid all my bad deeds and God changed me back into a human. I know you bought me at the market. It was not my fault and neither was yours. I cannot speak to tell you the real story so that you will not buy me. Now that I am a human being will you be so kind as to release me? I like to go back and see my mother and be good to her and take care of her,’ pleaded Ambrosio.

Simple Folks Tricked by Sly Ambrosio

Confused, the farmer did not reply. He was upset at losing his cow and did not know how to react. He decided to go home and asked his wife for advice. On reaching home, he immediately rushed to the kitchen where he found his wife busy preparing dinner. He took the wife aside and told her the miraculous story.

The wife, being a kind and caring person, knew how much the mother must have missed her son. She told the husband ‘It is sad that we had lost our cow. It was our only prized possession. However, the boy is even more precious to his mother. We cannot keep him here. We have to let him go to his mother. She must have prayed every day and God must have heard her prayer and decided to turn him back to a human’

So the husband untied him and told the boy to go.

Ambrosio rejoined Felipe at their home and told him how he had tricked the couple. Felipe laughed so loud and was proud of his friend for deceiving the two simple humble folks.

Filipino Folk Tales - Brief History

The Spanish ruled The Philippines for over 300 years and no Filipino folk tales were ever published by the Spanish during this period except for one.

It was only after the Americans took control of the country that folktales were collated and published. These large collections of folktales were stories of magic, the battle between good and evil, animal tales, spirits, and religion.

More Philippine Folk Tales

The Philippines has a rich tradition of folklore, beliefs in the supernatural, and legends.

However, tales of children transformed into animals are common and popular. This is not just in Filipino folktales and other Asian folktales, but also in folktales from Europe.

If you are interested in reading more Filipino folktales, then read the story about the battle between sea crabs and sea waves in Battle of the Crabs.

For stories on mousedeer that tricked a tiger, read Story of Mousedeer and a Tiger.

Mousedeer that outsmart a crocodile then read Mousedeer and Crocodile.

Finally, for the story on how mousedeer fooled a farmer after raiding his farm, then read Mousedeer and a Farmer.

Happy reading.

© 2012 Mazlan A

Related Articles