Folklore on Life Wisdom

The Philippines continuous to have ubiquitous problems on education. A sizeable portion of the populace still lacks it, while those who have it often end up unable to use their college degrees for what jobs are available. But a folklore says, even in modern times, we have to keep in mind the basics of wisdom more than the advances of education.

Two men went from Manila to Cebu. One was a lawyer, the other a simple fisherman. They met in the ship and discussed about various facets of life. The folklore says the lawyer demonstrated what education can do to a person; he was able to talk about anything under the sun. The simple fisherman, according to the folklore, had finished only grade four in elementary.

The folklore says the lawyer talked about the economy, world affairs, war, climate change, and politics, among other things. Periodically, the lawyer would ask him if the fisherman understood. He only smiled and looked back. The folklore says he commented thus: “It’s a pity that you know only the sea and its fish.” He looked at the fisherman and smilingly said, “And probably how to swim.”

The lawyer looked away and continued. “Life is more than the sea, fishing, and swimming. You have to know about what’s going on, here and abroad. Had you continued diligently with your studies, you would have been erudite in all matters like me.” The folklore says he stared at the fisherman. “You’re missing so much in life, friend.”

Without warning a tsunami suddenly struck and the ship was capsizing within minutes. In the commotion, the folklore says, they ran out of life boats and life jackets. The fisherman shouted: “Sir, it’s time to jump off to the sea before the ship submerges!” The lawyer stared hard at him and said, “I don’t know how to swim!” The folklore says, the fisherman was aghast: “You’re so smart but you never bothered about swimming? I mean we all know our archipelago—7,100 islands—lots of waters. Even grade four kids know that.”

The lawyer shouted in anger” “I know that! But what’s your point?”

The fisherman, says this folklore, poised to dive but before jumping, he said: “The point is, sir, jump and swim away from the ship—or you’ll lose your life!”

This Philippine folklore reminds us that education that cannot be practical in one’s real situation is potential wisdom all down the drain.

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