How Suan Became Rich

how suan became richIn this Tagalog folktale from the Philippines a poor man named Suan asks a rich friend if he has a pole so that he can build himself a house. Some adventures begin when Suan’s house turns out to be bigger than that of his friend. In the end, the roles are d and Suan becomes the richest man in town.

English Learner Vocabulary Help

The words and expressions in our Elementary level Simplified English story which are not in our 800 word list are: , , , , , , , , , and .

General Comments on the Story

Our source for the story was a book called “Filipino Popular s” by Dean S. Fansler, first published in 1921. It can be downloaded as an e-book from Project Gutenberg here. In a note about this story, Fansler claims that its origin is almost certainly Indian. He points to the story’s similarities to two Eastern folktales, and suggests that all three may have come from the story of Gamani-canda (No. 257 of the ). Many of the names in the folktales recorded in Fansler’s book are of Spanish origin. This is because the Philippines was a colony of Spain for over 300 years. However, it likely that almost all of these stories come from a time well before Spanish rule.


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(adj: spare, sparer, sparest) 1. Not needed by you and available to be shared or given to someone else. Do have any spare cash/change? (ว่าง) 2. [of time etc] Available to be used in whatever way you want. He likes to read in his spare time. (ยามว่าง) 2000

(v: reverse, reverses, reversed, reversing) 1. To move backwards or in the opposite direction to normal. He reversed the car into the garage. 2. To put into the opposite position, state, order etc. My mother and I reversed our roles. Now I'm taking care of her. 3. To change a decision, rule etc to the exact opposite. He was originally found guilty, but the High Court reversed the decision. 2000

buffalo(n: buffalo pl buffaloes) A large wild animal like a cow with long horns that point to the back. Examples include the Asian and African water buffalo and the North American bison. 7000

drown(v: drown, drowns, drowned, drowning) To die by being underwater too long and unable to breathe. Four people drowned in the flood. She fell in the river and drowned. 3000

jealous(adj: jealous) 1. Feeling or showing that you want to be like another person or have something that another person has; envy. 2. Feeling or showing unhappiness or anger because you think that someone you love [such as your spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, etc.] likes or is liked by someone else. 4000

join(v: join, joins, joined, joining) 1. To put or bring two or more things together; to connect. She joined the pieces of wood together with glue. 2. To go somewhere in order to be with a person or group. He asked that I join them for lunch. 3. To become a member of a group or organization. Join the navy and see the world. 1000

mud(n: mud, noncount) Soft, wet dirt. His shoes were covered with mud. 3000

palace(n: palace pl palaces) A very large and beautiful house, especially one lived in by a member of a royal family such as a king, queen, sultan, etc. 4000
The picture on the left shows Buckingham Palace in London where the Queen of England lives.

peso(n: peso pl pesos) The standard unit of currency in many South and Central American countries and in the Philippines. 14000

punish(v: punish, punishes, punished, punishing) To make someone suffer for a crime or for something done that is wrong.
(n: punishment pl punishments) The act or way of making someone suffer for a crime or for something done that is wrong. 3000

sharp(adj: sharp, sharper, sharpest) 1. Having a thin edge that is able to cut things or a fine point that is able to make a hole in things. 2. [of changes in direction] Sudden and quick. A sharp turn. 3. [of speaking] In an angry or unpleasant way. A sharp voice. 4. [of a sound] Loud, short, and sudden. (2000

worry(v: worry, worries, worried, worrying) To think about problems or fears; to feel or show fear and concern because you think that something bad has happened or could happen. If am not home on time, my parents start to worry. His poor health worries me. (วิตกกังวล) 1000

tale(n: tale pl tales) 1. A story about real or imaginary events; an exciting or dramatic story that may not be completely true. (นิทาน) 2. An untrue story that is told to deceive someone; a lie. He told me he had a lot of money, but that was just a tale. (เรื่องโกหก) 3000

The Jataka Tales form an important part of Buddhist Literature. Believed to be written between 300 BC and 400 AD, they are made up of around 550 stories and fables about the earlier lives of the being who would become Gautama Buddha. The future Buddha appears in many forms (god, human and animal), and in each exhibits some good quality that the tale seeks to teach. Versions of many of the stories can be found in other literature, including Aesop's Fables.

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