Juan Osong

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Juan Wearing a Monkey’s Skin

This Filipino story was recorded in English based on a Kapampangan (Pampango, from the province of Pampanga) version in the early 20th century. There is also a Bicolano (Bikulano, from Bicol) version of this story.

Once upon a time there was a couple which was at first childless. The father was very anxious to have a son to inherit his property: so he went to the church daily, and prayed God to give him a child, but in vain. One day, in his great disappointment, the man exclaimed without thinking, “O great God! let me have a son, even if it is in the form of a monkey!” and only a few days later his wife gave birth to a monkey. The father was so much mortified that he wanted to kill his son; but finally his better reason prevailed, and he spared the child. He said to himself, “It is my fault, I know; but I uttered that invocation without thinking.” So, instead of putting the monkey to death, the couple just hid it from visitors; and whenever any one asked for the child, they merely answered, “Oh, he died long ago.”

The time came when the monkey grew to be old enough to marry. He went to his father, and said, “Give me your blessing, father, for I am going away to look for a wife.” The father was only too glad to be freed from this obnoxious son, so he immediately gave him his blessing. Before letting him go, however, the father said to the monkey, “You must never come back again to our house.”

“Very well, I will not,” said the monkey.

The monkey then left his father’s house, and went to find his fortune. One night he dreamed that there was a castle in the midst of the sea, and that in this castle dwelt a princess of unspeakable beauty. The princess had been put there so that no one might discover her existence. The monkey, who had been baptized two days after his birth and was named Juan, immediately repaired to the palace of the king. There he posted a letter which read as follows: “I, Juan, know that your Majesty has a daughter.”

Naturally the king was very angry to have his secret discovered. He immediately sent soldiers to look for Juan. Juan was soon found, and brought to the palace. The king said to him, “How do you know that I have a daughter? If you can bring her here, I will give her to you for a wife. If not, however, your head shall be cut off from your body.”

“O your Majesty!” said Juan, “I am sure that I can find her and bring her here. I am willing to lose my head if within three days I fail to fulfil my promise.” After he had said this, Juan withdrew, and sadly went out to look for the hidden princess.

As he was walking along the road, he heard the cry of a bird. He looked up, and saw a bird caught between two boughs so that it could not escape. The bird said to him, “O monkey, if you will but release me, I will give you all I have.”

“Oh, no!” said the monkey. “I am very hungry, and would much rather eat you.”

“If you will but spare my life,” said the bird, “I will give you anything you want.”

“On one condition only will I set you free,” said the monkey. “You must procure for me the ring of the princess who lives in the midst of the sea.”

“Oh, that’s an easy thing to do,” said the bird. So the monkey climbed the tree and set the bird free.

The bird immediately flew to the island in the sea, where fortunately it found the princess refreshing herself in her garden. The princess was so charmed with the song of the bird, that she looked up, and said, “O little bird! if you will only promise to live with me, I will give you anything you want.”

“All right,” said the bird. “Give me your ring, and I will forever live with you.” The princess held up the ring; and the bird suddenly snatched it and flew away with it. It gave the ring to the monkey, who was, of course, delighted to get it.

Now the monkey jogged along the road until finally he saw three witches. He approached them, and said to them, “You are the very beings for whom I have spent the...
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