What would be done to somebody who dares shoo off a king from a church seat? And what should be done to woo an insulted king who owns everything. These are the issues of this Philippine folklore.
According to this folklore, a long time ago, when Spain had just newly conquered the Philippines, there was a town church. It was newly built by the Spanish missionaries who had first come to the islands prior the invading forces. Many converts to Christian Catholicism had joined the church, among them a rich, old lady. The folklore says, she was known in the town as arrogant but religious. She was able to keep all the rigorous rituals of the religion, but people were aloof to her.
Every morning, the folklore continues, she wanted to occupy the first pew in the church. Daily, she would march up straight to the very front pew to take her place. Nobody dared occupy the front pew.
One morning, she came in a bit late. She marched down the aisle, proudly but solemnly, fan gently covering her face, until she reached the front pew. But, the folklore says, to her consternation, she saw a man already seated there. She snapped close her folding fan and shouted at him in impaired Castilian: “How dare you sit there in my pew!” Then, according to the folklore, in a milder tone, she said, “You’re new around here, I suppose, because you don’t know who it is reserved for!”
The man, simply dressed but nonetheless very honorable-looking, smiled and excused himself. He sat in another pew behind her. Afterwards, the folklore says she noticed that people were still looking at her with apparent unbelief and astonishment. She wondered why. Then, the folklore says, an altar boy, or “sacristan,” approached her and told her why. The king of Spain himself had just arrived last night and was now in church to hear the first morning mass—the same guy she had just shooed off to another pew!
The folklore says, the king kept his decorum by simply enjoying the mass, smiling, and shaking the hands of everybody in church after the mass, even the old lady’s. She was speechless. The folklore poses this dilemma: What could she say to somebody she had insulted who turned out to be owner of everything?
This Philippine folklore reminds people to treat everybody fairly, and not value them according to their looks and material possessions.