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Filipino Popular Tales   By: (1885-)

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Filipino Popular Tales

Collected and Edited with Comparative Notes


Dean S. Fansler,



The folk tales in this volume, which were collected in the Philippines during the years from 1908 to 1914, have not appeared in print before. They are given to the public now in the hope that they will be no mean or uninteresting addition to the volumes of Oriental Märchen already in existence. The Philippine archipelago, from the very nature of its geographical position and its political history, cannot but be a significant field to the student of popular stories. Lying as it does at the very doors of China and Japan, connected as it is ethnically with the Malayan and Indian civilizations, Occidentalized as it has been for three centuries and more, it stands at the junction of East and West. It is therefore from this point of view that these tales have been put into a form convenient for reference. Their importance consists in their relationship to the body of world fiction.

The language in which these stories are presented is the language in which they were collected and written down, English. Perhaps no apology is required for not printing the vernacular herewith; nevertheless an explanation might be made. In the first place, the object in recording these tales has been a literary one, not a linguistic one. In the second place, the number of distinctly different languages represented by the originals might be baffling even to the reader interested in linguistics, especially as our method of approach has been from the point of view of cycles of stories, and not from the point of view of the separate tribes telling them. In the third place, the form of prose tales among the Filipinos is not stereotyped; and there is likely to be no less variation between two Visayan versions of the same story, or between a Tagalog and a Visayan, than between the native form and the English rendering. Clearly Spanish would not be a better medium than English: for to day there is more English than Spanish spoken in the Islands; besides, Spanish never penetrated into the very lives of the peasants, as English penetrates to day by way of the school house. I have endeavored to offset the disadvantages of the foreign medium by judicious and painstaking directions to my informants in the writing down of the tales. Only in very rare cases was there any modification of the original version by the teller, as a concession to Occidental standards. Whatever substitutions I have been able to detect I have removed. In practically every case, not only to show that these are bona fide native stories, but also to indicate their geographical distribution, I have given the name of the narrator, his native town, and his province. In many cases I have given, in addition, the source of his information. I am firmly convinced that all the tales recorded here represent genuine Filipino tradition so far as the narrators are concerned, and that nothing has been "manufactured" consciously.

But what is "native," and what is "derived"? The folklore of the wild tribes Negritos, Bagobos, Igorots is in its way no more "uncontaminated" than that of the Tagalogs, Pampangans, Zambals, Pangasinans, Ilocanos, Bicols, and Visayans. The traditions of these Christianized tribes present as survivals, adaptations, modifications, fully as many puzzling and fascinating problems as the popular lore of the Pagan peoples. It should be remembered, that, no matter how wild and savage and isolated a tribe may be, it is impossible to prove that there has been no contact of that tribe with the outside civilized world. Conquest is not necessary to the introduction of a story or belief. The crew of a Portuguese trading vessel with a genial narrator on board might conceivably be a much more successful transmitting medium than a thousand praos full of brown warriors come to stay... Continue reading book >>

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