Crab Curse


K is a 21 year-old woman with a mixed heritage. Her mother is Hispanic and her father is Filipino. She grew up for most of her life in California but spent lots of time with her Lolo (grandfather), who told her stories from the Philippines.

The context of this piece is was during a work shift when the shift lead was speaking about an old story they had heard from their mother the night before. K then discussed her own story from her Lolo. I then asked her some details afterwards.


“OK so this story is when my grandpa told me about in the Philippines about a girl who turned into a fish. She grew up to be very spoiled and arrogant she was obsessed with her looks so she went down to the river one day to admire herself, a crab had come up to compliment her beauty and asked to be her friend but she denied the crab and shoved him away so because of her arrogance and ego he clawed her face and cursed her so as she washed her scratched up face the water turned her skin into scales Every time she let the water touch her skin the skills would come up faster and faster and would not go away. This was the crab’s way of punishing her for being so obsessed with her beauty to the point where she even rejected him and his friendship.”

Me: “So why did your Lolo tell you a story like that? I mean was he trying to scare you?

K: “Well he told me this story because he wanted me to grow up humble, because I had a lot of growing up that my parents or him didn’t get to have. I will say I was scared of crabs for a while but I laugh about it now”


I really enjoyed talking about this story with K. She is one of my coworkers, so it was interesting to see what kind of stories she had. Our cultures are different, so it was interesting to hear about Filipino stories that I had never heard before. It was interesting to see the similarities between folklores from my Mexican culture and hers as I have folktales that were told to serve as didactic lessons to children. I thought the animalistic symbolism in the story was interesting as well as animals are used through folklore to project a specific meaning or lesson.