Three-foot-high, Solid, and White

Context: The informant is a family friend who relates a story that he heard from an associate he met when he lived in the Philippines. I know the informant personally and have no reason to doubt that his telling of the story is accurate. The story was told to the informant in District 2, Barangay Gamu Centro, Isabela Province, Luzon, The Philippines in November, 2014. The language in which the story was told to him is in English.


Me: Have you heard of any strange or supernatural stories in your life?

Informant: Yes, I have. So, uhh, the last person in the world I would have suspected to, um, tell me a story of that sort is a very good friend of mine, let’s, uh, call him Kay. Kay grew up in a working class family near, uh, the docks in Liverpool. His father and uncles worked in a factory nearby. And, uh, Liverpool is actually the Beatles hometown, and as a teenager he told me that he used to occasionally catch their act at the Cavern Club.

Me: When and where did you meet Kay?

Informant: I met him in, umm, let’s see here, uhh, I believe it was 2014. He was our landlord in the small village on the island of Luzon in the northern Philippines. We lived there for, uhh, a year in a tidy little cottage behind Kay and his wife’s house.

Kay met and married his wife in Dubai, let’s call her, um, Jay. Kay then quit his job as a power plant engineer for the Saudi Arabian national oil company, and, uh, they moved to Jay’s home village in the Philippines to take life easy.

Kay was a big man, a real tough man, who had worked in the murderous heat of the Saudi oil fields for about, uhh, 25 years from what I recall. It’s hot in the Philippines, too, and when we first met him, Kay was dressed in his daily uniform of, um, a pair of loose shorts and flip flops. I remember how *chuckle* Kay bragged that he hadn’t worn a shirt in ten years, and I *chuckle* I never saw Kay in a shirt once during that year we lived in his house.

Me: So what was the story that Kay told you?

Informant: I’ll get to that, but first you have to know that, uh, there was nothing fancy about Kay. He was a westerner, and, um, he prided himself on being tough, belligerent, outspoken, and being able to design and build anything he could imagine in his wonderfully creative mind. You can imagine my surprise, when he told us this story:

Jay, Kay’s Filipina wife, was, um, how should I say it, somewhat superstitious. She wouldn’t wear red when lightning prowled about during the typhoon season, and, uh, undoubtedly had all the supernatural fears and phobias typical of her neighbors. Kay didn’t fear anything, but he loved Jay and wasn’t too surprised when one day she told him about, get at this, the chicken.

Me: The chicken?!

Informant: The chicken! First it was Jay, and then it was their teenage daughter, let’s, uhh, call her May. They both saw it. Not an ordinary chicken, mind you. They had each seen a three-foot-high chicken walk through their house, out the kitchen door and disappear. A three-foot-high white chicken. *chuckle* It didn’t make a sound, didn’t look right or left, just walked from the veranda, through the sitting room, into the kitchen, out the door, then disappeared.

And, um, this didn’t happen just once, mind you. The chicken showed up from time to time, no special time a matter of fact. Not on Christmas or a birthday! First, Jay and May saw it independently; Jay saw it when May was at school, and then, uhh, Jay saw it when May and her sister-in-law were out back scrubbing clothes in the wash tub. But then, Jay and May *chuckle* saw it together at the same time! A three-foot white chicken calmly walking through their house. 

Kay didn’t see it! He didn’t believe in it! But he just went along with it so as to not make waves with his wife and daughter. Let them see whatever they want to see was the way Kay handled it.  He was totally accustomed to the often unusual beliefs of his friends and relatives in the village.

But that all changed the day Kay was in the house alone, tinkering with the ever problematic air conditioner in the, uhh, sitting room. He turned away to grab a screwdriver or wrench from his tool box, and there it was: A three-foot-high, solid, white chicken strolling through the sitting room not ten feet away! The chicken didn’t make a sound, didn’t look right or left. It just, uhh, sauntered into the kitchen and out the door to the yard. Kay didn’t believe it, but there it was. All of his experience working big power projects in Saudi Arabia and Indonesia, all his drinking and brawling before he met Jay, all his settling down to his farm and taxi business in the Philippines. None explained the three-foot chicken!

Kay didn’t tell Jay and May about it at first. He dismissed the whole thing, until it *chuckle* happened again! Again! And Again! Finally, he had to admit it to Jay and May. They just nodded. They understood. As they said, that’s just the way things happen in the rural Philippines! *laughs*

And after a while, the chicken, uhh, didn’t come back. Kay and Jay and May were all glad about that. Kay especially because the three-foot white chicken was the one thing in his life he never figured out.

Now I, uhh, left out one tiny little detail. Very recently before the sightings of the supernaturally large chicken, Kay’s brother unfortunately passed away. Maybe, just maybe, those dots can be connected!

Thoughts: The story told is an example of a memorate. The informant related a supernatural occurrence as it was told to him by a close friend. The informant also originally wrote down the story to preserve it. I am further protecting the integrity of the story by recording it in the USC Digital Folklore Archives. The story illustrates how supernatural events are perceived differently by persons of different cultures. For example, the wife and the daughter (Filipinos) easily accepted the supernatural events, while the husband and father (Westerner) initially rejected it. The informant told me that this doesn’t suggest that the wife and daughter are not intelligent or perfectly capable individuals. They are simply a product of their rural Filipino culture. The informant himself is at a loss to determine the veracity of the story, and so am I. Furthermore, the informant has no reason to doubt the integrity of the friend who told him this story because he knew the storyteller to be honest and forthright. This is an example of how our credulity is heavily influenced by our personal relationships.