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Who Brings the Cholera?

Who has not heard about Cholera? A deadly disease, it is feared by everyone. In the Filipinos, people dreaded it so much that they supposed it as a curse or enchantment by some evil man or a malicious spirit who poisons the wells to kill innocents. There is even a story about this.

It is said that long long ago in a town in the interior of one of the Philippine Islands, there lived a poor man called Tanag. He was so poor that he had nothing to eat. He didn't have any work that could earn him a living. So he decided to move to some other place. At that time, many were suffering from the cholera.

Old that he was, Tanang walked slowly and it took him the entire day to cover only three miles. He was crossing a sheltered bridge over a smooth brook near the sea when he saw the sun setting, as if into the waters. He decided to stop and pass the night there.

Tanang spent the early hours of the night preparing food for himself and eating it. Then it occured to him that he might be seen and killed by bandits, who often passed that way. So he moved himself to a bamboo raft beneath the bridge, where he could not so easily be seen.

But there were many mosquitoes over the water, and the poor old man could hardly close his eyes.

"Sleep or no sleep, I must remain here till daybreak." thought the man, "At least I'll be safe here."

But a little before daybreak, he heard the sound of some heavy footsteps upon the floor of the bridge. Looking up stealthily, he saw two huge giants walking together, both carrying long clubs. A fearful Tanag heard the first giant say to the other:

"Did you kill many people?"

"Yes, I poisoned the food, and soon those who ate it died out of the cholera. And how are you getting along yourself?"

"I too put my poison into some foods and those who consumed them died. But now the trick won't work anymore, because they have found out the antidote for it."

"What is that?"

"The root of the balingay tree boiled in water. It is a powerful cure for the effects of the poison I use. And what is the antidote against yours?"

"Just the root of the alibutbut tree boiled in water. Luckily, no one has discovered this antidote, and so many people will die." In the morning Tanag saw the giants going to the shore, where many people were fishing with their nets. The giants flung their poison on the fish, and then disappeared from Tanag's sight.

Tanag understood that the cause of the cholera was the poison used by the two giants. He found a way to save people as well as get a job for himself. He quickly gathered a dozen roots of the balingay and alibutbut trees and boiled them in water. As soon as he found the fishermen falling sick, he introduced himself to them as a doctor and administered his medicines to them. Soon his fame grew across the land. He cured many people and earned so much money that he soon became rich.

You may believe it or not. But this is what they believed in the Filipinos.

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