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Filipino Folk Tales - The Miraculous Cow

Updated on July 13, 2016
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Born & raised in Malaysia, Mazlan is proud of his Malaysian & Asian heritage & likes to share its mysteries, cultures & current issues.

Filipino folktale : Is this the miraculous cow?
Filipino folktale : Is this the miraculous cow? | Source

Spanish Influence on The Phillippines

If you are familiar with the Spanish folk tale 'The Ingenious Student', you will see similarity to this Filipino folk tale, 'The Miraculous Cow.' Although there is no evidence to prove this, the tale could have evolved from 'The Ingenious Student' as:

  • The Philippines was occupied by the Spanish for more than 300 years
  • During this period, the Hispanic influences can be found in some of the traditional Filipino folk dances, music, language, literature and religion
  • Spanish cultures and stories used to be taught in schools

Whether this is conclusive or otherwise, The Miraculous Cow is a tale of ingenuity. Although the exploitation of the ignorance was despicable and uncalled for, it is still a good read. In most of the Filipino folk tales, making fun of the 'simple folks' is not unusual. It is similar to the Irish or Polish jokes that make fun of the Irish and Polish people.

I make minor changes to the story and hope you enjoy reading this version. Do not forget to share it with your friends and family members, too.


Filipino Folk Tale - The Miraculous Cow

Every evening as the farmer drives home from the paddy field, he bring his cow back with him. He will tie it to the back of his carreton, and as he drives along, he will sing his favorite song. The cow will occasional joined him in the singing and trust me, it is something you do not want to hear!

Not knowing to the farmer, two boys, Felipe and Ambrosio had been watching him doing this for a few days already. Today, they decided to put their plan into action.

“I will quietly go to the back of the cart and untie the cow. We can then bring it back to our house’ whispered Felipe to Ambrosio.

‘No, I will do it’ replied Ambrosio.

Filipino Folktales : The farmer's old carreton in the story of The Miraculous Cow
Filipino Folktales : The farmer's old carreton in the story of The Miraculous Cow | Source

The Sly Ambrosio

Ambrosio slowly approached the carreton, untied the cow and gave the rope to Felipe. He then tied himself to the carreton in place of the cow.

‘What’s the matter with you? Are you crazy? Untie yourself and let’s go back’ whispered Felipe angrily.

‘Don't worry about me. I have a plan. You go back with the cow and I will soon join you later' replied the shrewd Ambrosio.

Filipino Children & Folk Tales on Amazon

The Missing Cow

After a while, the farmer realized the cow was not singing and he looked back to see why. To his surprise, he saw a boy instead of his beloved cow. He was frightened and at the same time shocked to see the boy.

'Who are you and why are you tied to my cart? Where is my cow?' asked the farmer furiously. 'You good for nothing thief, give me back my cow!’

''Please do not be angry with me. It is not my fault.' said Amrosio. 'Please calm down and let me tell you my story'.

Amrosio's Story

'Be quick as I have no patience with thieves like you' replied the farmer.

‘Many years ago, when I was a small boy, I was very naughty and always make my mother angry. I lost my father when I was still a baby and my mother had to earn a living to take care of us.'

'When she is tired, she get upset easily. One day I spilled a pail of milk that she had just brought in from the barn. Without even thinking, she cursed me and said something like ‘I wish you are a cow’. Suddenly I was changed into a cow. It freaked me out, but now I guessed I must have repaid all my bad deeds and God changed me back into a human. I know you had bought me at the market. It was not my fault and neither was it your fault that you bought me. I cannot speak to tell you the real story so that you will not buy me. Now that I am a human being again, will you be so kind as to release me? I like to go back and see my mother and be good to her and take care of her’ pleaded Amrosio.

Simple Folks Tricked by Sly Ambrosio

Confused, the farmer did not reply. He was upset at losing his cow and did not know how to react. He decided to go home and asked his wife for advice. On reaching home, he immediately rushed to the kitchen where he found his wife busy preparing for dinner. He took the wife aside and told her the miraculous story.

The wife, being a kind and caring person, knew how much the mother must have missed her son. She told the husband ‘It is sad that we had lost our cow. It was our only prized possession. However, the boy is even more precious to his mother. We cannot keep him here. We have to let him go to his mother. She must have prayed every day and God must have heard her prayer and decided to turn him back to a human’

So the husband untied him and told the boy to go.

Amrosio rejoined Felipe at their home and told him how he had tricked the couple. Felipe laughed so loud and was proud of his friend for deceiving the two simple and humble folks.


Filipino Folk Tales

The Spanish ruled over The Philippines for over 300 years and no Filipino folk tales were ever published by the Spanish during this period except for one.

It was only after the Americans took control of the country that folk tales were collated and published. These large collections of folk tales were stories of magic, battle between the good and evil, animal tales, spirits and religion.

The Philippines has a rich tradition of folklore, beliefs in the supernatural and legends.

However, tales of children transformed into animals are common and popular. This is not just in Filipino folk tales and other Asian folk tales, but also folk tales from Europe.

If you are interested to read more Filipino folk tales, then read the story on the battle between sea crabs and sea waves at Battle of the Crabs .

For stories on mousedeer that tricked a tiger, read Story of Mousedeer and a Tiger.

Mousedeer that outsmart a crocodile, then read Mousedeer and Crocodile.

Finally, for story on how mousedeer fooled a farmer after raiding his farm, then read Mousedeer and a Farmer.

Happy reading.

Mean and Despicable

As I had mentioned earlier, the actions by these boys were 'mean and despicable' in our eye. In Filipino folktales, making fun of the simple folks and their belief in superstitions are common. It was meant to be fun and amusing. Just like how people would tell Irish or Polish jokes.

© 2012 Mazlan


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    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 2 years ago from Germany

      Very interesting story. I have not heard this Pinoy folk tale in my home country. Maybe I have just missed it.

    • greatstuff profile image

      Mazlan 4 years ago from Malaysia

      Hi Peach, sorry for this very late response. Some of The Philippines folktales have cultural influences from Spain mainly due to more than 200 years of Spanish occupation. The Miraculous Cow is probably one of them. Thanks for dropping by, commenting and vote.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 4 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      interesting story. Glad to to read yr hub. Voted useful