The Monkey and the Turtle

Sandaang Salaysay

A podcast series of Filipino folk tales for young people brought to us by Areté and the Ateneo de Manila Basic Education.

Listen to the story here or on Spotify.

Today’s podcast episode: “The Monkey and the Turtle,” as told by our national hero, Dr José P. Rizal.


In 1885, José Rizal lived in Paris where he often dined at the house of the Pardo de Taveras. There he met the young lady Paz, who was being courted by his best friend and roommate, Juan Luna. It was customary then for young European women to have a notebook or album and have their friends write on it. Because Paz’s notebook was about to be filled up, it is said that Rizal used up all the remaining pages by illustrating and narrating the fable of “The Monkey and The Turtle.”

This story is widely recognized as surely having originated from the Philippines. Scholars point to a Bagobo version of the story that was around during pre-Hispanic times and that this Bagobo folk tale is the source of the Ilocano, Kapampangan, Visayan, Tagalog, and Tinguian versions of the story.

Rizal’s version of The Monkey and the Turtle is widely recognized as one of the first, if not the first, comic book that a Filipino ever wrote. The English version that you will hear was translated from Rizal’s original Spanish text by Paolo Ven B. Paculan and Kristine Anne P. Valdellon, and will be read for us by Hazelyne Elgar.


Learning Guide

Prepared by Kristine Anne P. Valdellon and Hazelyne Elgar

A. Discussion Questions

1. If you were the turtle, how would you have made the monkey share the bananas with you?

2. State in your own words the meaning of the last statement, "The monkey may be smart yet he can still be fooled".

  • Can you give an example of a situation that illustrates the meaning of the statement? An example from your experience will be good.
  • What lessons about dealing with others does the statement teach us?

B. Activity

1. Draw and color the Monkey and the Turtle in the boxes below. Answer the questions that follow. Download the file below to access the worksheet.

File Download

Download link for PDF of The Monkey and The Turtle - Activity Worksheet

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2. The story depicts an example of social inequality because the monkey decided to eat all the bananas for himself and not share it with the turtle.

  • Ask students to complete the sentence “To me, social inequality comes about when...” Instruct the students to include a real-world example to complete the sentence.
  • Then, the teacher can ask the students to collate or summarize their statements as a class in the chart form. One way to summarize the statements is to have two columns in the chart. The first will contain statements that reflect reasons that are internal to the person (e.g. being selfish) while the second column will include all statements reflecting reasons external to the person (there are few resources to share). Discuss the results.

File Download

Download link for PDF of The Monkey and The Turtle - Full Text

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Current Stories in the Series


The Monkey and the Turtle

Sun and Moon

Sagacious Marcela

The Story of our Fingers

Why Cocks have Combs on their Heads

The Snail and the Deer


Ang Pagong at ang Matsing

Ang mga Paglalakbay ni Juan

Ang Pinagmulan ng Daigdig (Si Malakas at si Maganda)

Ang Unang Unggoy

Ang Alamat ng Palay

Ang Alamat ng Pinya

Stay tuned for the other stories in this podcast series!

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