The Legend of the Pineapple Fruit
There was a pretty little girl called Pina who was pampered by her mother as an only child. Everything that Pina asked for, Pina got. Everything that Pina scoffed at was taken away. No one in her village was ever so spoiled as Pina. No one was ever such a snobbish child. She was so lazy, and she had never stirred a finger to work in her life.
Pina’s mother was perfectly happy that way, for Pina remained dependent on her as a spoiled child. But one day, Pina’s mother fell ill and there was no one to take care of Pina. She resolved that she would get well immediately for Pina’s sake – but she knew she would need help.
"Pina, Pina," she called weakly, from her cot. "Come here a moment. I have something to ask of you."
Pina had never been asked to do anything in her life, and she was quite prepared to refuse, but she said anyway, "What is it, Mother?"
"Pina," said the doting mother, "I am too sick to make you anything to eat. I am too sick to eat anything solid. I need you to cook lugaw for me, Pina. It is very easy: just put some rice in a pot, pour some water in with it, add a pinch of sugar, and leave the mixture to boil for a while."
"Oh, that’s too hard! I won’t do it," Pina said firmly.
"You have to, Pina!" her mother pleaded. "What will your poor Nanay eat?"
But Pina was immovable. At length her mother resorted to shouting if only to catch her attention. Moping, Pina dragged her heavy feet down the stairs to gather the things she needed to make lugaw. She managed to find the rice, the water, the bowl, the sugar – but she could not find the ladle anywhere. How was she supposed to cook lugaw without a ladle?
"Nanay, where is the ladle?" Pina shouted.
"It is beside the other kitchen utensils, Pina, you know where I keep them," her mother weakly shouted back.
But the ladle was not anywhere near the other kitchen utensils, and Pina was too lazy to look for it elsewhere. "I can’t find the ladle, mother," she complained. "I guess I won’t be cooking without the ladle."
"Oh, you lazy child," Pina’s mother wept. "You won’t even look! I hope you grow a thousand eyes so you’ll be able to find it!" After saying these words, Pina’s mother noticed that the house had fallen silent. Pina was no longer griping downstairs! That was a marvel. Perhaps she was already cooking. Pina’s mother would be happy if the child would cook her anything, even if it were burnt.
But a long time had passed, and still the house was silent, and still Pina’s mother could not smell the cooking coals burning. She began to get worried. With all her meager strength she called out for Pina. Pina did not come, but the neighbors heard her pitiful cries, and they decided to drop by to see what was wrong. They took care of Pina’s mother in the child’s place.
"Where is Pina?" Pina’s mother asked at once. "Where is my child?"
"Oh, you know that girl," they assured her, "she must be in some friend’s house, having a good time. She hates responsibility. She may only be a little angry at you because you had asked her to work. It will pass, and she will come home."
Pina’s mother rested easily with that thought, and she recovered quickly. But she was up and about and asking all around town for her precious little child, and still Pina had not returned.
One sunny day, while Pina’s mother was cleaning their back yard, she saw a strange yellow fruit about as large as the head of a child that had sprung up from the ground. "How curious!" she thought, and bent to examine it. The strange, spiny yellow fruit, she saw, had a thousand black eyes.
"A thousand eyes...!" she gasped, remembering a mother’s curse carelessly let out. "My Pina!"
But there was nothing to be done. Imagine a thousand black eyes and not one of them seeing, and not one of them being able to shed a tear. Pina’s mother, who still loved the child more than anything in the world, decided to honor her memory by taking the seeds of the strange yellow fruit and planting them. When after a while there was more of the fruit, Pina’s mother gave her harvest away to everyone she knew. Thus Pina, in another form, became generous to others.
To this day the Filipinos call the yellow fruit pinya, after the pretty spoiled child.