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The Adventures of
Juan Tamad (Lazy Juan)
A Filipino Legend
Shared with the children of Co. Monaghan by Fina Maranon and her children Andres, Lucas and Gabriel, Subic Bay,
Along time ago, a boy called Juan lived in a small fishing village in the Luzon region of the Philippines. Juan was the laziest boy in the whole village. Even though he was young and healthy, Juan never did anything except eat and sleep. He was known far and wide as Juan Tamad (Lazy Juan).
Juan’s laziness was always getting him into trouble, especially with his hot-headed mother. She was at her wits end with her idle son. No matter what she asked him to do, he would let her down. Juan had
an excuse for everything!
One morning, Juan’s mother needed wood for the fire. She went outside and found Juan in his usual spot under the guava tree. He was lying on the ground waiting for the delicious ripe fruit to fall straight from the tree into his mouth – too lazy to reach up and pick it from the tree himself!
Furious, Juan’s mother roared so loudly at her workshy son that he jumped two feet from the ground. Handing him his father’s axe, she sent him out into the forest to chop wood for the stove.
Juan wandered aimlessly through the forest trying to think of a good excuse to go home early. But he was tired, and the excuses didn’t come as easily as they usually did. Instead, he stopped in front of an old tree with brittle branches and set to work.
As luck would have it, this was no ordinary tree. In fact it was a magical tree, and when Juan lifted his axe, it began to weep. ‘Please Juan’, it begged, ‘don’t chop off my branches. If you leave me alone, I will give you a magical goat which shakes silver from its beard’.
Juan couldn’t believe his luck. Not only had he discovered a talking tree and been given the gift of a magic goat but he also had a good excuse for not chopping any more wood! A gap appeared in the tree and the magic goat stepped out. It shook its beard and sure enough a carpet of silver coins covered the forest floor.
Juan gathered the coins and headed home to show the goat to his mother.
Along the way, Juan met his friend José and told him all about his adventure in the forest. José was very greedy, and knowing that Juan was not very clever, he decided to rob the goat for himself. José also knew that Juan was always tired so he encouraged him to take a quick nap before continuing on his journey. Once Juan was asleep José swapped the magic goat for an ordinary goat.
When Juan returned home he gathered his family around him to tell them all about the enchanted tree but when the goat shook his beard no silver appeared. Juan’s mother was fed up of her idle son and his silly stories. She was furious that he had come home without any firewood so she sent him to bed without any supper.
Juan was angry too because he thought the tree had lied to him. He wandered back into the forest to find the tree and cut it down.
When he held his axe up to the tree, again it began to weep, ‘Please Juan’, it begged, ‘If you leave me alone I will give you a magical net which will catch fish wherever it is cast’. Juan’s curiosity eased his fury and he accepted the tree’s offer.
Sure enough, as soon as Juan cast the net onto the forest floor, it filled to the brim with delicious fish. Delighted once more, Juan rushed home to tell his mother.
Again, he met the crafty José on the road home and passed a few fields telling him all about his bad luck with the goat and good luck with the magic net. José again persuaded Juan to take a rest and again swapped the magic net for a normal one. At home again, Juan gathered the whole village to watch the magical net in action and again he was disappointed. His mother was even more furious than before and the rest of the villagers laughed and laughed until their stomachs hurt.
For a third time, Juan returned to the tree determined to cut it down. Again, the tree pleaded with Juan and this time offered him a magic pot of rice that would never empty and magic spoons to conjure up delicious food.
Confident that this time his mother would be proud of him, Juan toddled home along the familiar road. For a third time, he met his devious friend José and for a third time he was tempted by the thought of a nice afternoon snooze. Once more, José swapped the magical gifts for ordinary ones and Juan was left to look like a fool in front of the whole village. The villagers were becoming tired of Juan’s stories and this time, they chased him and his useless pot out of the village.
By this time, Juan had lost all patience with the magic tree and its devious tricks. He stomped back into the forest determined to chop it into smithereens.
But Juan was a kind-hearted soul, and when the tree began to weep, the anger in his heart subsided. This time the tree offered him a magic stick. ‘If you say the magic words, ‘Boombye, Boomba’ the stick will chase away your enemies.’
Wandering back towards the village, Juan met José again and told him about the stick’s powers. No sooner had he uttered the words ‘Boombye, Boomba’ but the stick began to chase José around in circles. Terrified, José pleaded with Juan to call off the stick, ‘Please Juan, if you only make it stop, I will return all that I have stolen from you’.
Suddenly Juan realised that it was José who had tricked him. Together they returned to the village with all of the magic gifts. Juan’s family could not believe their eyes when they saw silver fall from the goat’s beard, fish spilling out of the net and the pot and spoons overflowing with delicious rice, meat and vegetables. Juan’s mother’s hot temper melted when she saw Juan feed the entire village using his magical gifts. The villagers were so astounded that they decided to make Juan their leader.
And so it was, that Juan lived out his days with a fully belly and an easy mind. Most days, he could be found lying under his favourite guava tree, waiting for the delicious ripe fruit to fall straight from the
tree into his open mouth.
In case you were wondering, the magic stick had a role too. It kept the villagers safe from robbers and foreign armies. With the words ‘Boombye, Boomba’ all marauding villains were chased far far away.