The Filipinos, being for the most part ignorant of the laws of hygiene,
attribute the cholera to any cause rather than the right one. In
general, they believe it to be caused by some evil-minded men, who
poison the wells, or, sometimes, by evil spirits, as the following
story will show.
Tanag was a poor man who lived in a town in the interior of one of
the Philippine Islands. He had nothing to eat, nor could he find
any work by which he might earn his food, and so he determined to
emigrate. At that time the cholera was at its height.
As Tanag was rather old, he walked so slowly that in a day he had
gone but three miles. At sunset he was crossing a sheltered bridge
over a smooth brook near the sea, and determined to rest and spend
the night there.
During the early part of the night he was all right, but later it
occurred to him that he might be seen and killed by the ladrones,
who often passed that way.
Below the bridge was a raft of bamboo poles, and he thought it would
be wise to get down there, where he could not so easily be seen. But
there were many mosquitoes over the water, so that he was unable to
sleep. He determined, however, to stay there until day dawned.
At about four o'clock he heard a heavy step upon the floor of the
bridge, and by the moonlight he could see that the new-comer was a
huge giant with a long club.
A little later another giant came, and Tanag, full of fear, heard
the following dialogue:--
"Did you kill many people?"
"Yes, I put my poison on the food, and in a short time those who ate
of it were attacked by the cholera and died. And how are you getting
"At first I killed many people with my poison, but now I am
disappointed, because they have found out the antidote for it."
"What is that?"
"The root of the balingay tree boiled in water. It is a powerful
antidote against the poison I use. And what is the antidote against
"Simply the root of the alibutbut tree boiled in water. Luckily,
no one has discovered this antidote, and so many people will die."
In the morning Tanag saw the giants going to the shore, where many
people were fishing with their nets. The giants flung their poison
on the fish, and then disappeared from Tanag's sight.
Tanag believed that the cholera was caused by the two giants, who
poisoned the food and water by sprinkling poison on them, and he did
not doubt that the roots of the balingay and alibutbut trees would
prove to be the antidotes to the poison. So he gathered the roots
and cooked them and advertised himself as a doctor.
In fact he cured many people and earned so much money that he soon