child · children · fable · filipino · philipines · short stories · story · tale

Why Plants Can’t Talk

A long time ago, the plants were not like what they seem today. There was a time not known in our age, when they can talk as we do, laugh as we do,  and above all, sing even more beautifully than we do. But unfortunately, they also argue with each other almost as worse as we do.

Mariang Sinukuan, the guardian fairy of the Mountains of Arayat, was the one who gave them the ability to talk. There weren’t  many humans then, and she was very lonely, so she begged her father, Bathala, for a favor.

“Oh my loving father, please give me the power to turn the plants into my friends who I can talk to and sing with.”

She sounded so sad and heartbroken, that Bathala could not resist  her request. Mariang Sinukuan was very happy when the first plants, the flowers, began to sing to her, and was even happier when the other plants started to talk and sing as well. Soon they were laughing and exchanging jokes and pleasantries, and Mariang Sinukuan was very content.

And so that incomparable happiness of friends went on for many years, until one day, Mariang Sinukuan went to the plants and said,

“My dearest lovely friends, my ever-loving plants, I deliver to you a great and sad news. For I am a guardian fairy of this mountain, my father, Our Mighty Bathala, required all of his children to fall into a long and deep sleep. The humans are waking and multiplying quickly, and its only a matter of time before they notice that we are here. We should not let that happen for the sake of blissful innocence. So it is with great sadness that I leave you now, for an indefinite amount of time.”

“But my lady!” said the grasses.
“Our lovely Lady, No!” the strong Molave remarked.

“You can’t leave us!” said the Sampaguita.
“We’ll be so alone!” exclaimed the Calamansi shrub.

“Do not whine my dears. For I have a solution to your complaints. My father created the Animals, various creatures who could communicate with you rather effectively. You need to cooperate and be friends with them. It is with them that I leave you. Farewell my lovelies, until we meet again.” The plants were somewhat subdued by the Fairy’s slumber. They were excited, for what could be more fun than more new friends?

Soon the animals arrived. The plants were all singing together, but the animals didn’t seem to like singing with them. Eventually, the animals began eating the fruits of the plants. Their leaves and stalks were deteriorating because of the appetite of the animals, and the trunks and branches of the trees bacame nests and homes of various Birds and occasionally very big creatures with furry bodies and tails whose eyes shone in the dark. They re-grew their fruits and leaves, but the plants were irritated with the animals. They did not want to share themselves. Many years passed and the animals’ confusion quickly turned into anger, for they cannot fathom as to why their Lady would leave them with these creatures who are wild and unfriendly. They despised her. So one night, when the animals were asleep and their great leader, the Lion, was away on a journey, the plants had a council.

“We cannot let this oppression continue!” said the shrubs.
“Yes! We should fight!” shouted the flowers.

“But how can we do that?? The animals are much more stronger than we are.” said the grass sadly.

“They have a leader. We should have one too.” quipped the wise Bamboo.

“Yes! He’s right.” agreed the flowers.
“But how should we choose our leader?” one Mango tree asked.
“By singing!” “Yes, by singing!” “It is what we are all good at!” Chorused the rest.
So the singing contest began. They all sang very beautifully, but each one of them was just as good of a singer as the others. They began to argue.

“I am the best one!” “I should be the leader!” “I’m better than all of you!” “No, no!”

The plants bickered and bickered and bickered. Soon, the whole mountain was very very loud with the rising voices of the plants. Some were still singing in desperation, some were shouting at the tops of their voices, some were trying to subdue them but they could not hear one another above all the noise. The humans started to notice, and the animals started to evacuate the forests of Mount Arayat. Finally, the booming voices of the arguing plants reached the deepest part of the mountain where the fairy, Mariang Sinukuan, slept. Her eyelids fluttered and her forehead crumpled with the noise. She opened her eyes and stepped outside to the forest after a very long time.
“But what is happening?” She was confused. She saw a dove overhead and beckoned it toward her.
The Dove answered in a soft melodic voice, “My Lady! You are awake! Kroo! The animals are terribly upset. The plants are fighting, you see. They did not like us, so they wanted a leader for themselves, but they ended up like this. Kroo!.”

Mariang Sinukuan became very angry and upset. She went to the council of the plants. Once the plants saw her, they began to shout even more louder, shrieking at their Lady who was once their friend, who created them and made them talk. Mariang Sinukuan could not contain her fury. She lashed out at the plants with all her power and said,

“You who I hoped and begged for! You who sang as beautifully as myself! You who are ungrateful and selfish!  You who have disrespected me! You shall not sing, nor talk, nor make a sound again! YOU SHALL BE SILENT FOREVERMORE!”

And so they were. All noise ceased at once. Their mouths disappeared and they swallowed their voices, never using them again. The animals went back to the mountains and the humans continued to populate the earth. Eventually they forgot about the noisy forest, and the plants could only cry silently. They thought of their past life with Mariang Sinukuan, they contemplated their actions, they felt remorse and they silently grieved and begged for forgiveness from the fairy. But Mariang Sinukuan was already gone. She was back in solitude to continue her sleep, because oblivion is sometimes better than reality, and silence is a much better gift than noise.

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