Tsonggo and Pagong (The Monkey and The Turtle)

A long time ago, Tsonggo (Monkey) and Pagong (Turtle) used to be the best of friends. Problem was, Tsonggo was always trying to get the upper hand in every situation, and this eventually brought about the demise of their relationship.

The beginning of the end came that one day when they found a banana tree laden with ripe fruit. Tsonggo immediately claimed it as his, but Pagong reasoned with him that since they both found it, it was only fair that they divide it equally. Tsonggo was reluctant to do so, but finally agreed after coming up with a crafty solution. He declared that he should get the top half of the tree, while Pagong should get the bottom half. He said this only because he wanted all the bananas to himself, and did not want to share any with his friend.

Though Pagong knew what his friend was up to, he agreed to it anyway, in the spirit of friendship. So it was that Tsonggo went home with the part of the tree with the fruit, while Pagong went home with the trunk.

It was several months later when Tsonggo mustered enough courage to visit Pagong. He had waited a while to see him because he felt bad about the banana incident. After all, he did get to enjoy all the fruit while Pagong went home practically empty-handed. If Tsonggo were in Pagong’s place, he would still have been mad at him.

When Tsonggo saw Pagong, he was surprised to see him in high spirits. He was even more surprised to see a banana tree growing in his backyard.

“Where did you get all these bananas, Pagong?” he asked.

“This was from my half of the tree. I did not get to eat any bananas back then, but because I planted my half, I will be rewarded with bananas from years to come.”

Tsonggo was envious of his friend’s good fortune. Here he was, thinking he got the better end of the deal. Seemed like Pagong got the upper hand, after all.

“Don’t worry, Tsonggo. Even though you treated me badly the last time, I forgive you if you promise to be better. Climb up the tree to pick the bananas, and when you get down, we can share them equally,” said the kind-hearted Pagong.

Tsonggo agreed to the deal. He climbed up the tree, but once he got there, he forgot his promise. He ate all the bananas he could, without a thought to Pagong who was anxiously waiting below. When he had his fill, he gathered up the remaining bananas under his arm and climbed down. As soon as he got down, he ran away as fast as he could, ignoring the poor Pagong, who called out piteously to him.

Once Tsonggo was at a great distance, he rested, confident that the poor turtle would never be able to catch up with him. He hid the bananas under a tree, and planned to return for them later that day.

When he returned, he found that all his bananas had been eaten. He was so mad. He found a bird up a tree. He also saw a dog nearby. He asked both if any of them had eaten his bananas.

“I don’t eat bananas,” said the bird.

“I don’t eat bananas, either,” said the dog.

“I think I saw Pagong eating some bananas earlier,” said the bird.

Tsonngo was so mad. He immediately left to search for Pagong. True enough, he found Pagong leaning against a tree, eating the last of his bananas.

“So you were the one who ate my bananas,” he yelled angrily.

“Oh, I did not know the bananas belonged to you,” said Pagong as he put the last bite of the banana into his mouth. “I thought I was eating my share.”

Even though technically Pagong was right, Tsonggo was still mad. He grabbed Pagong by the neck.

“I shall strangle you,” yelled Tsonggo to the unrepentant turtle.

“Go ahead and strangle me,” said the scared but quick- thinking Pagong. “The more you wring my neck, the longer it will become. Then I will become even lovelier with my long, elegant neck.”

When Tsonggo heard this, he stopped. “Hmmm, maybe I should just throw you into a giant mortar and pestle, and pound and ground you to death.” Tsonggo then proceeded to walk towards a giant mortar and pestle, with one hand still firmly grabbing Pagong by the neck.

This terrified the poor turtle but he cheerfully said, “Oh, yes, please. Go ahead and throw me into that mortar and pestle. The more you pound and ground me, the stronger my shell will become. Then I will become even better with my strong, sturdy shell.”

This stopped Tsonggo in his tracks. “Never mind about grinding you to death,” he shouted. “I will just burn you!”

As Tsonggo prepared to make a fire, Pagong, fearful for his life, still managed to lie. “Go ahead and throw me into that fire. The more I burn, the redder I will become. Then I will become even prettier with my beautiful, red skin.”

This angered Tsonggo. He looked around him. Finally, he noticed the river nearby. “Aha! I shall throw you into the river and watch you drown!”

“Oh, no, please!” was Pagong’s terrified response. “I cannot swim. If you throw me into the river, I will surely die!”

This answer pleased Tsonggo. At last, he could make Pagong pay for eating his bananas. Tsonggo went to the furthest end of the river. With a mighty heave, he flung Pagong into the deepest part. He watched as Pagong flailed helplessly in the water.

“This will be the last time you’re eating any banana of mine,” shouted Tsonggo to Pagong. Then, to his astonishment, Tsonggo saw the once struggling turtle roll over then swim gracefully.

“Thank you, Tsonggo, for throwing me into the river. Don’t you know that this is my home?” smiled Pagong, waving cheerfully at him. “And thank you for showing me what kind of a friend you are. From now on, I will find someone else worthy to share my bananas with. ”

With that, Pagong bade goodbye to Tsonggo, whose greed made him lose his bananas and a friend, all in one day.

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