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Republished with permission from World Scientific Education (WSE)
Rediscover the magic of one of the Philippines' most beloved and popular folktales. Follow Pedro on his journey across different realms as he searches to find his sisters and reunite his family.
Read the story below and download the activity sheet at the end to create your own story with D.I.Y props!
The Brother of the Three Marias is taken from the All-time Favourite Folktales from Asia collection originally published by WSE.
Teong and Goya were healers who lived at the foot of Mount Sagrado. Their daughters, Maria Upeng, Maria Loleng and Maria Trining, picked the leaves of the Kolesmeloko tree every morning because its leaves could heal any illness.
One day, when Teong cut down the tree to pick all of its leaves, a huge snake emerged. It had been imprisoned in the tree by the King of the Lions, the King of the Eagles, and the King of the Sharks. “Thank you for freeing me,” said the snake. “But now, your three daughters will have to take my place.”
Teong went home to tell his family. Goya was devastated, but the three brave daughters made up their minds to go with the snake.
The next morning, the three Marias went to the tree, and disappeared. The snake told Teong not to worry as they were going to become the wives of the three kings. In exchange, Teong and Goya were given five gold coins.
Soon, Goya gave birth to a son named Pedro. She always sang him songs about the three Marias and how they disappeared. When he grew up, he decided to look for his sisters.
Goya gave him the five gold coins and three handkerchiefs that had his sisters’ names on them.
During his journey, Pedro met three men who had received gifts from an old beggar—a hat that made you invisible, a key that could open any door, and sandals that could make you fly. Pedro offered to buy these gifts with his five gold coins.
The three men accepted Pedro’s offer. Pedro put on the hat and sandals, and kept away the key. Then he went on his way.
Wearing the hat, Pedro commanded the sandals to bring him to the Kingdom of the Sharks. Using the key, he reached the throne of King Urano, and removed his hat and bowed. “I am Pedro, Maria Trining’s brother,” Pedro said. “But, I do not have a brother,” said the Queen. Pedro showed her the handkerchief with her name on it. The King gave Pedro a pearl as big as a chicken’s egg for Teong and Goya, and promised to bring the Queen to visit them soon.
Pedro flew to the Kingdom of the Eagles. Using the key, he reached the throne of King Langay, and removed his hat and bowed. “I am Pedro, Maria Loleng’s brother,” Pedro said. “But, I do not have a brother,” said the Queen. Pedro showed her the handkerchief with her name on it. The King gave Pedro the finest gold and silver carved with birds for Teong and Goya, and promised to bring the Queen to visit them soon.
Pedro then travelled to the Kingdom of the Lions. Using the key, he reached the throne of King Araw, and removed his hat and bowed for the third time. “I am Pedro, Maria Upeng’s brother,” Pedro said. “But, I do not have a brother,” said the Queen. Pedro showed her the handkerchief with her name on it. The King gave Pedro a necklace made of diamonds for Teong and Goya, and promised to bring the Queen to visit them soon.
Pedro returned home and gave Teong and Goya the gifts. Suddenly, King Urano and Queen Maria Trining arrived from the sea on a golden chariot pulled by whales, King Langay and Queen Maria Loleng arrived on a giant bird with glittering feathers, and King Araw and Queen Maria Upeng arrived on two huge lions.
The family was reunited at last. From that day on, Pedro was known as “the Brother of the Three Marias”.
Learn how to create your own key, hat and a pair of sandals in the activity sheet below and spin your own magical stories with these items!
The All-time Favourite Folktales from Asia is a collection of eight beloved children’s stories from China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines and Singapore. In these beautifully illustrated tales, you will meet brave heroes who outsmart others, mystical spells that enchant, talking animals that are full of mischief, and so much more.
The Our Folktales Series is a part of the World of Discovery book collection, which aims to promote reading for pleasure while exciting kids through discovery. Learn more about the World of Discovery book collection here. The Our Folktales Series can be purchased here.
Christine S. Bellen-Ang is a multi-awarded children’s story writer and playwright who teaches at the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City, Philippines. She has a doctorate in Children’s Literature from the Hong Kong Baptist University. Christine’s retellings of the Filipino favorite, Grandmother Basyang’s stories, rendered into 20 illustrated storybooks were given a Special Citation in the 2004 National Book Awards from the Manila Critics Circle.