Tag Archives: pineapple

The Legend of the Pineapple Fruit

“The legend revolves around Pina, a spoiled girl who refused to cook for her sick mother, causing her mother to become enraged and curse her. Pina later vanished, and her mother discovered a strange yellow fruit with a thousand black eyes that reminded her of her curse. In order to honor her daughter’s memory, she decided to plant the seeds of the fruit and share the harvest with others. The fruit became known as pinya, after Pina, and has since become a symbol of generosity.”

My informant learned about this legend in his Filipino class from his professor. He said that the lesson of the legend is to warn children not to be lazy. My informant also told me that the professor told the legend as a way to see into Filipino culture before the Spanish had colonized the land.

I think that the legend serves as a decent warning for children. No child wants to turn into a piece of fruit. It is interesting that the fruit is a pineapple in this story. There is a trope of when children are turned into an object, and in this case it is a pineapple. This is probably due to it being a staple of fruit in the Philippines.

Pineapple, Ungratefulness, and Pain

Main Piece: 

It’s this folklore or like this tale my mom used to tell me about how this poor family. The mom had like this child and she did like a lot of work to try to make sure her kid was happy. But the child was always like disrespectful, and like unappreciative of the mother’s hard work. And she kept asking for pineapples and like kept asking like I want pineapples. Like why don’t you ever feed me pineapples? All you feed me is like plain plain food. We never get like any good pineapples, the neighbors do. And so it was it like a fairy or like some celestial Spirit came down and was like, Hey, kid, do you want a pineapple? You keep fucking asking for like, goddamn pineapple. Maybe if you helped your mom out with like the work you got some pineapples. She’s like I shouldn’t have to and he’s like, You know what? I’ll give you pineapples. You can have all the pineapples you want. The only condition is you have to eat it all in one sitting. And so the kid ate a shit ton of pineapples. And because it’s a super acidic fruit, it burned through her tongue. And so it was just like, kind of like a scary little folk tale of like, how you should be appreciative of your, you know, elders and parents. 

Informant’s relationship to the piece: 

“This was like a common tale that like both my mom and dad used to tell me, and I was like, ‘Can I have McDonald’s’, and they’re like, ‘No’. And it’s yeah, a little manipulative. But, I mean, it is true. Like our parents do so much for us. And sometimes we forget how much they do for us. Um and they’re all a little cryptic in cursed ways. But they have sacrificed a lot for us and sometimes by not acknowledging that we end up harming ourselves. Like the little girl who didn’t help her mom and just wanted pineapples and burned her tongue. 


The informant is one of my roommates, a 21-year-old Vietnamese American college student at the University of Southern California. This performance was collected in our living room with one of our other roommates as we were talking about our family and the stories we grew up with. 


Me and my informant are both Asian, and we both grew up with a lot of stories that were supposed to scare us into being good, but this story specifically focuses on appreciating what you’ve been given, and as my informant mentioned, she was told this story when she would ask for fast food, and in addition to being told no, she would also be told this story. This story also imparts the cultural values of respecting your elders and not asking for too much. I think these stories are an easier way to convey these values than just being told that by parents because there’s an element of fear and consequence of major physical harm, which most parents would never threaten their children with. Although, I will say when I was looking into this story to annotate it, I couldn’t find any version of it, but I did find one about a girl who was turned into a pineapple that follows the first half of the story my roommate told me. So who knows, maybe this story was a way for my informants parents specifically to scare her.

For the closely related pineapple story that’s found both in Vietnam and the Philippines see: https://saigoneer.com/saigon-food-culture/11645-a-food-folktale-the-savage-clapback-that-turned-a-girl-into-a-pineapple

Colombianizing the Fourth of July

Originally from Florida, this friend of mine grew up around a wide range of cultures and traditions. Raised by Haitian and Colombian immigrants, she speaks Haitian-Creole, French, English, and a little bit of Spanish. We share a love of food, and spend a lot of time talking about food and different recipes and whatnot, so when this project came down the pipeline, I knew I had to ask her about some unique, family recipes.

The following was recorded during a group interview with 4 other of our friends in the common area of a 6-person USC Village apartment.

“And then Fourth of July dinner – that’s the day my dad really likes to make the sliders with like the cheese inside. Yeah, and then he puts like pineapple jam and like pink sauce – it’s so good. He’s Columbian, so he likes to … Colombinize, Colombianize food.”

This is a perfect example of cultural fusion. To take the most American food there is on the most American holiday there is and ‘Colombianize’ the two is literally what America is all about. We come from all over the world to share our cultures and make something new and beautiful and wholly original.

How Pineapples Came to Be

My informant (A) is currently an AV technician. He grew up in Quezon City in the Philippines for the first 13 years of his life before moving with his family to San Francisco, California for a year and then moving down to southern California, where he has stayed every since. He first heard the story about how pineapples came to be from his mother when he was around six years old. The story is also used in reading books for children when they are learning to read in the Philippines. His mom and aunt told him this story to frighten him into behaving when he was a child, and he has since told the story to his younger sisters and a few other people when casually talking. The story is paraphrased below:

“There was a mom and daughter in the Philippines long ago. The daughter’s name was Piña. Piña constantly lost things and, instead of even trying to look for the things by herself, she would just ask her mom to find them. The mother was really busy because she had to work in the fields all day, but the mom still helped her daughter find the things she kept losing. One day the mom could not find her hat, which she needed when she was working in the fields to keep the sun out of her eyes. The mom asked Piña to help her find the hat because she had to hurry or she would be late to the fields. Piña replied ‘Nanay [the word for mom], I don’t where the hat is. I’m busy.’ The mom told Piña that she really needed help, so Piña finally got up and walked around pretending to look for the hat. She didn’t actually look for the hat and then told her mom that she couldn’t find it. The mom got really frustrated and then she found the hat, which wasn’t that hard to find and Piña should have seen it when she was looking. The mom got really mad and said ‘Piña, I hope you grow 1000 eyes so that you can find things.” Then the mom went to the fields and spent all day working in the fields. When she got back to the house, she asked Piña to make dinner, but Piña wasn’t there. The mom looked and looked but she couldn’t find her. Days and weeks and months go by, and still the mom can’t find Piña and gets very worried. After a while, the mom starts seeing weird plants that look like they have 1000 eyes. The mom realized that Piña had turned into these plants. These little plants are pineapples, and that’s how pineapples came to the Philippines.” (Note that Piña is the word for pineapple).

This tale seems to serve two purposes. One is that it explains how the pineapple came to the Philippines, which only happened in the 19th century, which is probably why this story is necessary to explain why they are a relatively recent addition to the fruits normally found in the Philippines. The other is a more practical purpose, which is a way for parents to scare their kids into doing stuff from themselves or risk turning into a pineapple. This is probably why it is continually told to children. My informant spelled out the name Piña for me, and he used the Spanish spelling instead of the Filipino one (pinya), even though he used the Filipino word for mom (nanay). This is also interesting because the Spanish introduced the pineapple to the Philippines.

This story touches on the tension between the older and younger generations, and the how physically hard the lives of women are.

Pina and the Pineapple – Philippines

When I was a kid, my grandfather told me a story about pineapples, and in the Philippines we call pineapples “pinya.” And the story goes:
There was a mother and daughter living along the fields, whose names is Osang, the mother, and Pina, as the daughter, who is the only sibling.  Osang didn’t let Pina to do the chores when she was a kid, and ended up doing them by herself instead.  When people ask her “why don’t you let your daughter to do the chores? So she could learn!”  Osang insisted, “I”ll do it myself because she is still young.  I’d rather see her playing, and eating, and having fun.” But then time flew so fast and Osang got sick, weak.  So one time she asked Pina to do things for her, and Pina did, of course with complaints.  That one day her mother Osang wasn’t really able to get up and cook, so Pina went to the kitchen and supposed to cook, but then she couldn’t find a ladle. She screams, she yells, at her mother, that she couldn’t find the ladle. And her mom get annoyed and said, “I wish you have a lot of eyes to see whatever you are looking for.” And then Pina said, “You just love cursing me like that!” After that, a few days later, Osang recovered from her sickness and got up.  She did clean the backyard and noticed there’s a plant that grew while she was doing the gardening, which is the pineapple plant. And the fruit looks like it has a lot of eyes, and then she worried, “This must have been my daughter!  Because I remember how I wished that she had a lot of eyes.”  

And that told me the story that you should learn how to help, even when you are still young, still a kid.  You should be helping your parents, and have patience in looking for something.

Jennifer, who lives in the Philippines but plans to live here permanently, is very aware of her cultural duties in the Philippines.  The Filipino people are very big on respect for their elders, and the women are very aware of their duties as females of the house.  From an early age they learn to cook, clean, do all the chores while the men are working.  Jennifer is the perfect example of this, as she recognizes my grandmother as the “head” female of the family, and goes around doing chores for her without complaints.  She told me that this story, told to her from a young age, helped teach her how to embrace her role in society.  But, at the same time, even though the little girls in the Philippines are expected to help their mothers and learn how to run an household, there is a very big emphasis on having fun and playing outside.  Jennifer says that she never felt like she missed out on her childhood just because she was expected to help around the house.

When I went to Santo Domingo Ilocos Sur, the province my family is from, I got to witness this dynamic first hand.  Even though all the girls were younger than me, they were helping their mothers and grandmothers around the house whenever they weren’t dancing or playing in the streets.  It was a sharp contrast from what I was used to at home, because being from Orange County, the kids there, myself included, generally aren’t given those kind of duties.  But those kids were the happiest children I have ever seen in my life, despite their busy home lives.