Tales of the Supernatural
Tales of Laughter
Tales of Heroism

The Cow and the Carabao
( Northern Luzon )

It is said that a long time ago, the first cow and the first carabao wore skins that fit them exactly. They could both walk on only their two hind feet then. They both served a farmer who demanded much of them as beasts of burden. But the cow and the carabao were thinking that he made them work too much.

"No one should work this much under the heat of the sun!" the cow remarked. "We deserve a vacation!"

"What say you we play hooky one noon," the carabao proposed, "while the farmer is resting in the shade, as he always does when the sun is at its most furious?"

So it was that one noon, while the farmer who owned the first cow and the first carabao was fast asleep, the two friends shrugged off the plow and raced to the nearby river. They took off their skins, hung them on the low branch of a tree at the riverbank, and dived underwater. But alas, as they were having their fun, the farmer woke up, saw that his two beasts were missing from the fields where they belonged, took up his whip and went out searching for them. By following their footprints he found them almost immediately, bathing in the nearby river.

The farmer frightened the two beasts with his whip and made them scramble up to the bank. In their haste to appear decent before their master, the cow and the carabao switched skins, but then they were not able to get the false skins off again. As the carabao was larger than the cow, his skin sagged at the cow’s belly, and the cow’s skin clung tight to his flesh. And then it was impossible to retain their pride. They came before their master on all fours, begging to be forgiven. The farmer said they were forgiven, but they could no longer walk on only two legs, and they could never take off the false skins they wore. The cow and the carabao accepted their fate timidly, and handed down to their offspring their symbols of shame.