Tales from the 7,000 Isles: Filipino Folk Stories

Tales from the 7,000 Isles: Filipino Folk Stories

Tales from the 7,000 Isles: Filipino Folk Stories

Tales from the 7,000 Isles: Filipino Folk Stories


Celebrate the unique diversity and vibrancy of the Philippines through an in-depth exploration of the stories, traditions, songs, crafts, and recipes of the many different regions of the country.

Tales from the 7,000 Isles: Filipino Folk Stories offers insights into the people and culture of the Philippines through dozens of tales representing the nation's various islands, regions, and cultural-ethnic groups. Designed to provide educators with material with which to enhance curriculum and lesson plans, the stories open a gateway to a rich and unique cultural mix.

The tales presented here are divided into animal stories, how and why stories, tales of enchantment, trickster tales, and scary stories. In them readers can discern not only the native Filipino culture, but the influences of the many peoples who have moved through and settled in the islands, most notably Malay, Chinese, and Spanish, but also Arab, Indian, and American. A brief history of the country, its people, and their cultural traditions is included, as are crafts, children's games, recipes, and color photos. Notes about the stories, a bibliography, and a glossary complete the volume.


In this compendium of more than 50 folk stories, recipes, games, crafts, and photographs, one is compelled to ask, Why create another volume of ancient Philippine folklore when there are many available, both in the familiar Filipino vernacular and in cosmopolitan English?

In the past, Filipino children learned many of these tales in school textbooks. The stories were often difficult for students to understand and enjoy because they were urged to memorize the tales and recite the story’s moral. While many of the tales in this collection contain an inherent moral, they are meant to be cherished for what they truly are: stories concocted and collectively reimagined by a community. They are meant to be passed from one person to another. Like rumors, the stories evolve, and, in time, the details change until an entirely different variant of the story emerges. In this kind of literature, there is no claim of sole ownership, for each story is partly owned by its storyteller and its receiver. It is important for future generations to appreciate the creative design behind the tales: the mystery, the mirth, and the metaphor that comes with each retelling.

Unfortunately, some of these stories have been inadvertently overlooked, partly because of our penchant for modernization and partly because of the inaccessibility of some of these narratives. They have either died with a storyteller unwilling or too old and forgetful to share it or been relegated to the library archives: in pages of archaic books and inside silverfish-eaten dissertations of eclectic folklorists and academic researchers. It is unfortunate since folklore is the soul of the common people of long ago who were reared not in classrooms but in the fields and forests of their surroundings. They learned not through books and writing but through the wisdom of hard labor and discovery of the universe around them.

Still, there is a larger audience: the global Filipino audience. This group includes Filipinos who work abroad, children of Filipino nationals, immigrants, and expatriates. They yearn to know more about their heritage and the country that appears on the map as a mere speckle of dots in the midst of a vast ocean. There are also, thanks to a growing number of enlightened teachers and librarians, more young readers who seek these tales as they fashion their Filipino identities. Then there are those who realize that the Philippines is a country made colorful by cultures of different languages and traits, rich with stories to tell, and an immense and often untapped wellspring of cultural assets that thousands of years have shaped.

One major aspect of the richness of Philippine culture and traditions is its imperfect geography and position in the world. A cluster of more than 7,000 islands scattered in an area between the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean, the Philippines is like a big cauldron that fell from the sky and shattered into . . .

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