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The Favorite Son
(Tagalog)

There was once an aged couple who longed very much for a child. As they were firm believers in the power of the Cross, it was to God that they prayed for solace in their old age. They wanted a child, if only one child, and they promised to cherish it with all their hearts.

Their prayers were answered and the old woman bore a son. The son turned out to be handsome and talented, but very spoiled. Despite the couple’s poverty, the boy was sent to school and given fine presents for every special day of the year.

The couple loved the boy so much that they enjoyed little without him. They would not eat dinner before the boy arrived from school. But one night, the boy did not come home from school on time, and the couple became so hungry that they decided not to wait for the boy any longer. They ate with relish, unknowing that they were finishing even the boy’s share of the meal. They only realized how hungry they were when there was nothing left on every plate on the small dining table.

"We’ll pretend that I haven’t cooked dinner yet," the old woman told her husband. "Go upstairs and lie down on the bed." As the old man did as he was bidden, the boy came into the house.

The old woman faced the boy and said to him "Son, I’m afraid your father was sick today. I wasn’t able to cook dinner. But I am going to make you a fine meal right now."

The boy was angry at this. He did not know how to sacrifice. He was so angry that he took up a bolo from the kitchen and went upstairs, and stabbed the pillow his father was supposed to be lying on. As it was dark, the boy did not see that his father was not lying on the pillow he had torn, but God made the pillow leak blood into his hands anyway, and in fear and remorse the boy ran away from the house, never to return.

The aged couple loved the boy very much. Even after he left, they prayed fervently for the boy to be forgiven his anger, and for the boy to have a good life nevertheless. As they prayed, through the years, the boy learned much of the ways of the world, as he made his way through it alone. He became wise, respected, and rich. He came to own a large orchard that was the envy of the land.

The favorite son lived in a great estate overseeing his orchard. Once, he saw a very old beggar outside his gates and took pity on him. He brought the beggar home, and as he was talking to him it dawned upon the boy that the beggar looked exactly like the father he had left some time ago! But he did nothing to confirm his suspicions yet. He asked the old man to stay awhile.

The old man said "Sir, I’ve come to your lands because a famine had swept the town where I and my dear departed wife had lived, and I’d heard that a kind gentleman who owns a large orchard somewhere far away gives food freely to those in need. I had thought I would only benefit from your kindness only once. But you ask me to stay and be blessed with more than I had prayed for, and I must do something for you in return. Give me a task that needs a man’s hands. I may be old, but I can still work."

So the young man told the beggar to work in a part of his orchard. He asked the beggar to cut down all the crooked trees. And, when the old man had done that, he asked the old man to straighten the crooked logs by placing them on top of a fire. But the old man could not do this. After a while of laboring he came back to the boy, and said "I’m so ashamed of myself. I could not straighten even a single log. I think, sir, that when a man wants wood to become straight, he must tend to it and discipline it while it still has roots, and is young."

It was then that the young man knew that he was, in fact, talking to his old father. With tears in his eyes he embraced the old man, and confessed that he had been spoiled and ruthless, that he wished the old man had taught him to respect and revere his parents so that no tragedy could have befallen them. The old man and the boy prayed together for the boy’s sins to be forgiven.

Afterward, the boy cared for the old man, who came to live in the estate with his favorite son, and made his last days on earth happy.