The Buso's Basket
Two children went out into the field to tend their rice-plants.
They said these words to keep the little birds away from the grain:—
"One, one, maya-bird,
Yonder in the north;
Keep off from eating it,
This my rice."
Just then they heard the sound of a voice, calling from the great pananag-tree, "Wait a minute, children, until I make a basket for you."
"What is that?" said the boy to his sister.
"Oh, nothing!" answered the little girl. "It's the sound of something."
Then the children called to their father and mother; but only from the pananag-tree the answer came, "Just wait till I finish this basket to hold you in."
Down, then, from the tree came the great Buso, with a big, deep basket (such as women carry bananas and camotes in) hanging from his shoulders. The frightened children did not dare to run away; and Buso sat down near by in the little hut where the rice was kept. Soon he said to the children, "Please comb out my nice hair."
But, when they tried to comb his hair, they found it swarming with big lice and worms.
"Well, let's go on now," said the Buso. Then he stuffed the children into his deep burden-basket, and swung the basket upon his back.
On the instant the little girl screamed out, "Wait a minute, Buso! I've dropped my comb. Let me down to pick it up."
So the Buso sat down on the ground, and let the girl climb out of the basket. He sat waiting for her to find her comb; but all the time she was picking up big stones, and putting them into the basket. Her brother got out of the basket too, and then both girl and boy climbed up into a tall betel-nut tree, leaving Buso with a basket full of stones on his back.
Up to his house in the pananag-tree went Buso with the heavy basket.
When his wife saw him, she laughed and shouted very loud. She was glad,
because she thought there was a man in the basket, all ready to eat.
But, when Buso slipped the basket down from his shoulders, there was
no human flesh in it, but only big stones.
Then the angry Buso hurried back to look for the two children. At last he caught sight of them far up in the betel-nut tree, and wondered how he could get them. Now, at the foot of the tree there was a growth of the wild plant called "bagkang;" and Buso said words to make the bagkang grow faster and taller:—
    "Tubu, tubu, bagkang,
    Grow, grow, bagkang,
    Baba, baba mamaa'n."
    Handle, handle, betel-nut.
But the children, in their turn, said:—
    "Tubu, tubu, mamaa'n,
    Grow, grow, betel-nut,
    Baba, baba bagkang."
    Handle, handle, bagkang.

By and by, when the bagkang-stems had grown so tall as almost to reach the clusters of betel-nuts at the top of the trunk, the boy and girl said to each other.
"Let us pick betel-nuts, and throw them down on the bagkang."
And as soon as they began to pick, the betel-nuts became so big and heavy that
the bagkang-plants fell down when the betel-nuts dropped on them.
Then the Buso went away; and the children climbed down in haste, ran home,
and told their mother and father how the Buso had tried to carry them off.

Buso: Ugly evil spirits who have the power to injure people. They eat anything, even dead persons. They have been described as having long bodies and necks, long fingers and feet, but small arms. Their faces, which are framed by curly hair, are black with flat noses. They have one big or yellow eye, and two long and pointed teeth.
Maya-bird: A small bird that steals grain from the growing corn and rice. A clapper of split bamboo is sometimes made to scare away the maya.
Pananag-tree: One of the thick-branching trees haunted by demons.
Camotes: A native sweet-potato. The Bagobo name is kasila.
Baba, baba mamaa'n.: Buso is saying a charm to make the stem of the bagkang-plant grow tall enough to form a handle for the betel-nut tree, so that the children may be dragged down (tubu, "grow;" baba, "rattan strap forming the basket-handle;" mamaa'n, "betel-nut"). The children, for their part, say other magic words to make the tree grow at an equally rapid rate, so that its branches may swing above the bagkang as a handle for it. The Buso's formula appears to have been the more effective of the two charms in producing a magically rapid growth.
From Philippine Folk-Tales. Authors: Clara Kern Bayliss, Berton L. Maxfield, W. H. Millington, Fletcher Gardner, Laura Watson Benedict
Back to Top