Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Datto Somacuel

Datto Somacuel was one of the seven chiefs who, coming from Borneo
many years before the Spaniards conquered these islands, settled the
Island of Panay. He lived in Sinaragan, a town near San Joaquin, in
the southern part of Iloilo Province. His wife's name was Capinangan.

Somacuel went every morning to the seashore to watch his slaves
fish with the sinchoro, or net. One day they caught many fishes,
and Somacuel commanded them:--

"Spread the fish to dry, and take care that the crows do not eat
them up."

A slave answered: "Sir, if your treasure inside the house is stolen by
the crows, how do you expect those out of doors to be kept safe?" This
was said with a certain intonation that made Somacuel conjecture that
there was a hidden meaning in it.

"What do you mean by that?" he asked.

"Sir, I have to inform you of something that I should have told you
long ago. Do not reprove me if I have been backward in telling you
of the injury done you by your wife. It was due to my desire to get
complete proofs of the truth of my statement."

"End at once your tedious narrative!" said the datto, "What did my
wife do?"

"Sir," answered the slave, "she deceives you shamefully. She loves
Gorong-Gorong, who is at this very moment in your house jesting at
your absence."

"Alas!" said Somacuel, "if this be true he shall pay well for his

The chief hurried home, intending to surprise the offenders. He carried
a fish called ampahan in a bamboo tube full of water, going around by
a secret way, so as not to be seen. On reaching home he went up into
the attic to observe what was going on, and found that his informant
had told the truth.

Gorong-Gorong and Capinangan were engaged in an affectionate
dialogue. Involuntarily Somacuel spilled some of the water down, and,
fearing that he would be discovered, seized a spear that was hidden
in the attic and, dropping it down, dexterously ran Gorong-Gorong
through the body, killing him instantly.

"Oh, Diva!" exclaimed Capinangan, kneeling beside the inert corpse,
"How shall I be able to take it away without being discovered by

Somacuel, who had not been seen at all, stayed quietly above, watching
what Capinangan would do. Capinangan did not suspect that her husband
was there, as he usually did not come home before nightfall. She
tried to take the corpse out for burial, but could not carry the heavy
body of her unfortunate lover. She must conceal it in some way, and
it was dangerous for her to call for aid, lest she might be betrayed
to her husband. So she took a knife and cut the body into pieces so
that she could take them out and bury them under the house.

After this task was done she managed to wash the blood up. She
became tranquil for a moment, believing she would never be
discovered. Somacuel, however, had observed all, and he formed a
plan for punishing his wife as she deserved. When everything seemed
to be calm he crept down, doing his best not to be seen. At the door
he called his wife by name. Capinangan was afraid, but concealed her
fear with a smile. "Capinangan," said her husband, "cut this fish in
pieces and cook it for me."

Capinangan was astonished at this command, because she had never before
been treated in this way. They had many slaves to perform such tasks.

"You know I cannot," she said.

"Why not?" asked her husband.

"Because I have never learned how to cut a fish in pieces nor to cook
it," she replied.

"I am astonished that you don't know how to cut, after seeing that
cutting is your favorite occupation," said Somacuel.

Capinangan then did not doubt that her husband knew what she had done,
so she did as he had bidden.

When dinner was ready the husband and wife ate it, but without speaking
to each other. After the meal, Somacuel told his wife that he had
seen all and should punish her severely. Capinangan said nothing. A
guilty person has no argument with which to defend himself. Somacuel
ordered his servants to throw Capinangan into the sea. At that time
the chief's will was law. Neither pleadings nor tears softened his
hard heart, and Capinangan was carried down to the sea and thrown in.

Time passed by; Somacuel each day grew sadder and gloomier. He would
have been willing now to forgive his wife, but it was too late.

He said to his slaves: "Prepare a banca for me, that I may sail from
place to place to amuse myself."

So one pleasant morning a banca sailed from Sinaragan, going
southward. Somacuel did not intend to go to any definite place,
but drifted at the mercy of wind and current. He amused himself by
singing during the voyage.

One day the crew descried land at a distance. "Sir," they said,
"that land is Cagayan. Let us go there to get oysters and crane's
eggs." To this their master agreed, and upon anchoring off the coast
he prepared to visit the place.

Oh, what astonishment he felt, as he saw, peeping out of the window of
a house, a woman whose appearance resembled in great measure that of
Capinangan! He would have run to embrace her, had he not remembered
that Capinangan was dead. He was informed that the woman was named
Aloyan. He began to pay court to her, and in a few weeks she became
his wife.

Somacuel was happy, for his wife was very affectionate. Aloyan,
on her part, did not doubt that her husband loved her sincerely,
so she said to him:--

"My dear Somacuel, I will no longer deceive you. I am the very woman
whom you caused to be thrown into the sea. I am Capinangan. I clung
to a log in the water and was carried to this place, where I have
lived ever since."

"Oh," said Somacuel, "pardon me for the harshness with which I meant
to punish you."

"Let us forget what is passed," said Capinangan. "I deserved it,
after all."

So they returned to Sinaragan, where they lived together happily for
many years.

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