In the Filipino version of Aladdin, it introduced how a young boy and his mother are struggling economically. After revealing that his father had already died, the young boy went to a marketplace to seek economic opportunities. When he looked around, he encountered a traveling merchant who claims to be his father’s long lost brother. When his mother arrived, the merchant relayed the same message to her. Although she knew that her decreased husband did not have a brother, she was convinced because the traveling merchant treated her extremely well. The story then transitions into a scene where the merchant and the young boy traveled to the mountains. During this trip, the traveling merchant physically abused the young boy when he refused to cross the mountains. After reaching to the third mountain, the merchant performed a ritual and instructed the boy to find a coconut shell cup.
As he found it in a cave, the young boy asked the merchant to pull him out of there. However, the merchant told the boy to give him the coconut shell first. Knowing how he was excessively cruel, the young boy refused to hand over it, which prompted the merchant to perform magical powers to trap him in the cave. After being trapped for three days, the boy accidently rubbed the coconut shell and a genius suddenly appears. After revealing how he had the magical ability to grant him wishes, the young boy quickly made his first wish to return home. In the end, he made plenty of wishes that allowed him and his mother to live well and prosper.
After reading this folklore, it is clear that some of the key themes are mystery and magic. When the young boy comes across a man who makes an extraordinary claim that he is related to his father, it is reasonable to speculate the traveling merchant’s true identity, background, and motives. Considering how the legend introduces the character of the traveling merchant, he definitely contributes to the mysterious aspect of the story. In addition, this myth mentions how the traveling merchant could perform spells to open the ground and change the formation of rocks, which makes readers wonder how he initially obtained these magical powers.
More importantly, it is critical to reflect upon the traveling merchant’s purpose of traveling to the mountains. His objective was to acquire the coconut shell, knowing that it contained a mysterious entity that had the power to grant wishes. This indicates how he somehow knew that the coconut shell existed within the mountains beforehand. Once again, this makes readers think about how this traveling merchant has a considerable amount of knowledge within sorcery. Keeping this in mind, it strongly suggests that the author intentionally incorporated supernatural forces within this tale. Thus, it is evident how mystery and magic are the central ideas within this story.
Considering how this was labeled as a Juan Tamad story from Fletcher’s perspective, it would behoove me to discuss the distinctive similarities and differences between the Filipino version of Aladdin and the Juan Tamad stories. Taking into account how Juan Tamad is notorious for being an extremely lazy person, the young boy shows some resemblance as being lazy too. For instance, once he established control over the genius, he continuously relies upon the genius’ magical powers to succeed not only economically, but in other aspects of life. By doing this, he is not taking the initiative to be hardworking and disciplined. This is connected to a Filipino term that was discussed in lecture called “Noynoying”, which is used to label someone who is neglecting his or her responsibilities by doing nothing. As a result, it is fair to classify both Juan Tamad and the young boy as “Noynoying”.
Additionally, they were both naïve in their own separate ways. For example, Juan Tamad assumed that a dead woman agreed to marry him by remaining silent, whereas the young boy was gullible in believing the traveling merchant’s claim of being his uncle. The main difference between these two stories was how they concluded. On one hand, the young boy grew up to be a highly affluent person who shared his wealth with others. With Juan Tamad, it is dependent on which version of the folklore an individual is looking at. Regardless, he had a completely different fate where the majority of the stories depict him to be lackadaisical or stupid.
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