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Why the Carabao Has a Tight Black Skin

Filipino storytellers say long ago all animals wore clothes. At that time, a carabao dressed in a brown suit and a cow dressed in a black suit worked side by side on a farm. They plowed fields and dragged heavy carts from sunrise to sunset. A mean farmer owned them. He hit them with a thick stick whenever they stopped to rest, and never let them soak themselves in the cool river. The poor animals grew weaker and weaker and smellier and smellier. They knew they would soon die, and made plans to escape through a slit in the pen where the farmer locked them up every evening.

His clothes felt tight and uncomfortable. When he saw his reflection in the clear water, he realized he was NOT wearing his brown suit but the cow's black one!

One night when there was no moon, the carabao and the cow pushed their thin bodies through the narrow opening and quietly crawled out. They ran as fast as they could to the river. Off went their sticky clothes and they dipped themselves again and again in the fresh water. Suddenly, they heard shouts in the distance. It was the farmer screaming in an angry voice:

"Where are you two? Walang hiya animals! Come back at once! If you don't, when I catch you, I will beat you until your backs bleed!"

Trembling with fright, the carabao and the cow climbed out of the river, got dressed, and began to run. They were so terrified they kept running even when they could no longer hear the farmer's cries. The cow went one way and the carabao another.

At dawn, the tired carabao bent down to drink from a pool. His clothes felt tight and uncomfortable. When he saw his reflection in the clear water, he realized he was NOT wearing his brown suit but the cow's black one! No wonder it was SO tight. The cow was much smaller than he was.

Far away, the weary cow stopped to rest and thought: '1 must be even thinner than before. My suit is too big for me!"

As the sun rose, she saw she was wearing the carabao's brown suit! "Oh, we were in such a hurry we mixed up our clothes," she exclaimed. We must change them when we meet!"

But they never saw each other again. That is why carabao have tight black skins and cows have loose brown ones.

--From Kneeling Carabao & Dancing Giants: CELEBRATING FILIPINO FESTIVALS by Rena Krasno. Reprinted with permission from Rena Krasno and Pacific View Press.

© Rena Krasno

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