May 19, 2023

#08-312: Dogedog

An Itneg village (Wikimedia)

Note: I love this Filipino tale, in which a lazy man succeeds with a little (or a lot) of help from his friends.

Get Ready: Is it okay to be lazy if you're clever enough?

Here's a funny little folktale I found from the Philippines. It was told among the Itneg (Tinguian) people of Abra in the northwestern part of the island of Luzon.

Dogedog was a lazy man. After his parents died there was no one to take care of him and he lived very poorly indeed. He had little food, and his house had no floor. But as the rainy season approached, he realized he must do something about that, so he wrapped some rice in a banana leaf, went to the forest, and hung it on a tree while he cut some bamboo for a floor.

But when Dogedog came back to the tree for his lunch, he discovered that a cat had come and stolen it! The same thing happened on the second day, but on the third day he set a trap and caught the cat. "Now I've got you!" he cried, "and I'm going to kill you!"

"If you spare my life," the cat said, "I can be of some service to you."

So Dogedog took the cat to his poor little hovel and tied it by the door to guard it. But when he checked on it later, he saw the cat had turned into a rooster!

"Great!" said Dogedog. "Now I can go to Magsingal for the cockfights." You see, he would rather do that than work.

Forgetting all about bamboo for his floor, he set out at once for the cockfights, with the rooster under his arm. At the first river ford, he met a crocodile. "Where are you going, Dogedog?" it asked him.

"To the cockfights at Magsingal," Dogedog replied.

"Wait! I will go with you," said the crocodile; and he drew himself out of the water.

Along the way they encountered a deer, an ant mound, and a monkey. All asked the same question, and all joined the party.

At Magsingal the rooster--who had been a cat--won easily because it used its claws like a cat. One by one he defeated all comers to the last rooster.

Still wanting some action, the locals bet they had a man who could stay under water longer than anyone. The crocodile beat the diver easily. Another man was the fastest runner in the region; the deer beat him with ease. A strong man wanted to grapple, but the ant mound threw him after a hard struggle. And when a tree climber came? He was no match for the monkey.

Dogedog had won so much silver he had to buy two mounts to carry it. He went home and bought a mansion, happy that he did not have to work--and that his house had a floor!


Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. ant mound
  2. claws
  3. comers
  4. encountered
  5. ford
  6. grapple
  7. hovel
  8. mansion
  9. mounts
  10. spare

  1. a pile of earth raised by digging insects
  2. the sharp nails of a cat
  3. people who wanted to compete
  4. horses or mules
  5. a large house
  6. met
  7. not kill or harm
  8. a small, shabby house
  9. a shallow place where you cross a river
  10. wrestle

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for May 19, 2023

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. a; 2. b; 3. c; 4. f; 5. i; 6. j; 7. h; 8. e; 9. d; 10. g