How Suan Became Rich – Philippine Folktale

Pedro and Suan were friends. Pedro inherited a great fortune from his parents, who had recently died; but Suan was as poor as the poorest of beggars that ever lived. Early one morning Suan went to his friend, and said, “I wonder if you have a post that you do not need.”

“Yes, I have one,” said Pedro. “Why? Do you need it?”

“Yes, I need one badly, to build my house.”

“Very well, take it,” said Pedro. “Do not worry about paying for it.”

Suan, who had not thought evil of his friend, took the post and built his house. When it was finished, his house was found to surpass that of his friend. This fact made Pedro so envious of Suan, that at last he went to him and asked Suan for the post back again.

“Why, if I take it from its place, my house will be destroyed. So let me pay you for it, or let me look for another post in the town and get it for you!”

“No,” said Pedro, “I must have my own post, for I wish to use it.”

Finally Suan became so greatly annoyed by his friend’s insistence, that he exclaimed, “I will not give you back your post.”

“Take heed, Suan! for I will accuse you before the king.”

“All right! do as you please.”

“We will then go to the king Monday,” said Pedro.

“Very well; I am always ready.”

When Monday came, both prepared to go to the palace. Pedro, who cared for his money more than for anything else, took some silver coins along with him for the journey. Suan took cooked rice and fish instead. Noon came while they were still on the road. Suan opened his package of food and began to eat. Pedro was also very hungry at this time, but no food could be bought on the way. So Suan generously invited Pedro to eat with him, and they dined together.

After eating, the two resumed their journey. At last they came to a river. The bridge over it was broken in the middle, and one had to jump in order to get to the other side. Pedro jumped. Suan followed him, but unfortunately fell. It so happened that an old man was bathing in the river below, and Suan accidentally fell right on him. The old man was knocked silly, and as a consequence was drowned. When Isidro, the son, who dearly loved his father, heard of the old man’s death, he at once made up his mind to accuse Suan before the king. He therefore joined the two travellers.

After a while the three came to a place where they saw Barbekin having a hard time getting his carabao out of the mire. Suan offered to help. He seized the carabao by the tail, and pulled with great force. The carabao was rescued, but its tail was broken off short by a sudden pull of Suan. Barbekin was filled with rage because of the injury done to his animal: so he, too, resolved to accuse Suan before the king.

When they came to the palace, the king said, “Why have you come here?”

Pedro spoke first. “I have come,” he said, “to accuse Suan to you. He has one of my posts, and he won’t return it to me.”

On being asked if the accusation was true, Suan responded with a nod, and said in addition, “But Pedro ate a part of my rice and fish on the way here.”

“My decision, then,” said the king, “is that Suan shall give Pedro his post, and that Pedro shall give Suan his rice and fish.”

Isidro was the next to speak. “I have come here to accuse Suan. While my father was bathing in the river, Suan jumped on him and killed him.”

“Suan, then, must bathe in the river,” said the king, “and you may jump on him.”

When Barbekin was asked why he had come, he replied, “I wish to accuse Suan. He pulled my carabao by the tail, and it was broken off short.”

“Give Suan your carabao, then,” said the king. “He shall not return it to you until he has made its tail grow to its full length.”

The accused and the accusers now took their leave of the king.

“Give me the carabao now,” said Suan to Barbekin when they had gone some distance from the palace.

The carabao was young and strong, and Barbekin hated to give it up. So he said, “Don’t take the carabao, and I will give you fifty pesos.”

“No; the decision of the king must be fulfilled,” said Suan. Barbekin then raised the sum to ninety pesos, and Suan consented to accept the offer. Thus Suan was rewarded for his work in helping Barbekin.

When they came to the bridge, Suan went down into the river, and told Isidro to jump on him. But the bridge was high, and Isidro was afraid to jump. Moreover, he did not know how to swim, and he feared that he would but drown himself if he jumped. So he asked Suan to pardon him.

“No, you must fulfil the decision of the king,” answered Suan.

“Let me off from jumping on you, and I will give you five hundred pesos,” said Isidro.

The amount appealed to Suan as being a good offer, so he accepted it and let Isidro go.

As soon as Suan reached home, he took Pedro’s post from his house, and started for Pedro’s house, taking a razor along with him. “Here is your post,” he said; “but you must lie down, for I am going to get my rice and fish from you.”

In great fright Pedro said, “You need not return the post any more.”

“No,” said Suan, “we must fulfil the decision of the king.”

“If you do not insist on your demand,” said Pedro, “I will give you half of my riches.”

“No, I must have my rice and fish.” Suan now held Pedro by the shoulder, and began to cut Pedro’s abdomen with the razor. He had no sooner done that, than Pedro, in great terror, cried out,–

“Don’t cut me, and you shall have all my riches!”

Thus Suan became the richest man in town by using his tact and knowledge in outwitting his enemies.