The Monkey and the Turtle - a Tagalog fable

Sunday August 20, 2017 ()
Monkey and the turtle

Once upon a time there was a turtle who was very kind and patient. He had many friends. Among them was a monkey, who was very selfish. He always wanted to have the best part of everything.

One day the monkey went to visit the turtle. The monkey asked his friend to accompany him on a journey to the next village. The turtle agreed, and they started early the next morning. The monkey did not take much food with him, because he did not like to carry a heavy load. The turtle, on the contrary, took a big supply. He advised the monkey to take more, but the monkey only laughed at him. After they had been travelling five days, the monkey's food was all gone, so the turtle had to give him some. The monkey was greedy, and kept asking for more all the time. "Give me some more, friend turtle!" he said.

"Wait a little while," said the turtle. "We have just finished eating."

As the monkey made no reply, they travelled on. After a few minutes the monkey stopped, and said, "Can't you travel a little faster?"

"I can't, for I have a very heavy load," said the turtle.

"Give me the load, and then we shall get along more rapidly," said the monkey. The turtle handed over all his food to the monkey, who ran away as fast as he could, leaving the turtle far behind.

"Wait for me!" said the turtle, doing his best to catch his friend; but the monkey only shouted, "Come on!" and scampered [370]out of sight. The turtle was soon very tired and much out of breath, but he kept on. The monkey climbed a tree by the roadside, and looked back. When he saw his friend very far in the rear, he ate some of the food. At last the turtle came up. He was very hungry, and asked the monkey for something to eat.

"Come on a little farther," said the selfish monkey. "We will eat near a place where we can get water." The turtle did not say anything, but kept plodding on. The monkey ran ahead and did the same thing as before, but this time he ate all the food.

"Why did you come so late?" said the monkey when the turtle came up panting.

"Because I am so hungry that I cannot walk fast," answered the turtle. "Will you give me some food?" he continued.

"There is no more," replied the monkey. "You brought very little. I ate all there was, and I am still hungry."

As the turtle had no breath to waste, he continued on the road. While they were on their way, they met a hunter. The monkey saw the hunter and climbed a tree, but the man caught the turtle and took it home with him. The monkey laughed at his friend's misfortune. But the hunter was kind to the turtle: he tied it near a banana-tree, and gave it food every hour.

One day the monkey happened to pass near the house of the hunter. When he saw that his friend was tied fast, he sneered at him; but after he had remained there a few hours, and had seen how the turtle was fed every hour, he envied the turtle's situation. So when night came, and the hunter was asleep, the monkey went up to the turtle, and said, "Let me be in your place."

"No, I like this place," answered the turtle.

The monkey, however, kept urging and begging the turtle, so that finally the turtle yielded. Then the monkey set the turtle free, and tied himself to the tree. The turtle went off happy; and the monkey was so pleased, that he could hardly sleep during the night for thinking of the food the hunter would give him in the morning.

Early the next morning the hunter woke and looked out of his window. He caught sight of the monkey, and thought that the animal was stealing his bananas. So he took his gun and shot him dead. Thus the turtle became free, and the monkey was killed.

MORAL: Do not be selfish.


  • The Monkey and the Turtle as Narrated by Jose M. Katigbak of Batangas, Batangas, Filipino Popular Tales collected by Dean S. Fansler, American Folklore Society, Lancaster, PA, 1921


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