The Miraculous Cow

This is a Tagalog story recorded in English in the early 20th century. This tale may strike Western sensibilities as mean, but making fun of "simple folk" is not uncommon in Filipino oral stories. It's a moral story on cleverness contrasted with the stupidity of believing in superstition.

There was once a farmer driving home from his farm in his kariton. He had tied his cow to the back of his cart, as he was accustomed to do every evening on his way home. While he was going along the road, two boys saw him. They were Felipe and Ambrosio. Felipe whispered to Ambrosio, “Do you see the cow tied to the back of that kariton? Well, if you will untie it, I will take it to our house.”

Ambrosio approached the kariton slowly, and untied the cow. He handed the rope to Felipe, and then tied himself in the place of the animal.


“Come on, Ambrosio! Don’t be foolish! Come on with me!” whispered Felipe impatiently.


“No, leave me alone! Go home, and I will soon be there!” answered the cunning Ambrosio.

After a while the farmer happened to look back. What a surprise for him! He was frightened to find a boy instead of his cow tied to the kariton. “Why are you there? Where is my cow?” he shouted furiously. “Rascal, give me my cow!”


“Oh, don’t be angry with me!” said Ambrosio. “Wait a minute, and I will tell you my story. Once, when I was a small boy, my mother became very angry with me. She cursed me, and suddenly I was transformed into a cow; and now I am changed back into my own shape. It is not my fault that you bought me: I could not tell you not to do so, for I could not speak at the time. Now, generous farmer, please give me my freedom! for I am very anxious to see my old home again.”

The farmer did not know what to do, for he was very sorry to lose his cow. When he reached home, he told his wife the story. Now, his wife was a kind-hearted woman; so, after thinking a few minutes, she said, “Husband, what can we do? We ought to set him free. It is by the great mercy of God that he has been restored to his former self.”

So the wily boy got off. He rejoined his friend, and they had a good laugh over the two simple folks.

*kariton - a large cart, from the Spanish carretón