Just For Fun:


Popular riddles as recorded by Entong Anulay

The posting and guessing of riddles, whether passed down from the elders or collected from non-Subanen friends, is a popular form of entertainment. In the riddles below, Subanen life is reflected in the leading of a water buffalo by a rope and travel on a foot path. Notes to the text describe rules and taboos connected with the posing of riddles.

1 Now, guess this: a rope tied to the house, a spider web outside.*

2 The answer is a TRAIL.


3 Now, guess this also: Lingling* passes by , and we all die. 4 Maatmaat* passes by, and we all become alive (again).

5 The answer is NIGHT and DAY.



6 Now, guess: round stones that can reach the sun’s apex.

7 The answer is EYES.


8 Now, guess: a chief’s little child, still dragging his umbilical cord behind him.

9 The answer is a NEEDLE.


10 Now, guess: if you try to carry it on your shoulder, you can’t. 11 But if you try to drag* it along, you can.

12 The answer is a WATER BUFFALO.


13 Now, guess also: Pedro si crying, because he got hit on the head.

14 The answer is a NAIL.



By: Agdino Guilingan

Riddles and their answers reflect activities typical to Subanen life. Included here are betelnut-chewing and the snaring of wild pigs, and items such as pandanus leaves used to weave sleeping mats and a bamboo blowgun for hunting birds.

1 Liquid of a kimbukkimbuk* that does not spill, even in a storm.



3 A small bundle of clothing that can reach the sky.



5 Paspa* flies away and is instructed not to return.

6 Dry leaves that fall from the top of the trees.


7 A small baby snake that can encircle the earth seven times.



9 Water in purgatory,* that dry leaves don’t fall onto.



11 Four brothers who also live beside four rivers.

12 There are also four answers to it: (the four ingredients used in betelnut chewing,) betelnut, betel pepper leaves,* lime and tobacco.


13 A pig in a field of grass that can’t be caught in a snare.

14 LICE.*


15 At night, it is leaves of the pandanus* plants. 16 In the daytime, it is a blowgun.*



18 A fire with red embers that is never extinguished.

19 The SUN.


20 Five brothers who have the same thoughts, in life and in death.

21 A person’s five fingers.


22 Sambaya’ sambaya’,* may Father’s wealth and Mother’s wealth become my wealth as well.



24 I can’t see the lightning, I can only hear the thunder.



26 I cant see the lightning, but I can’t hear the thunder.



28 Something that gurgles and rattles, that is captured by five men.

29 Nose mucous, removed by one’s fingers.



By: Basilia Quimol Lantas

The answers to the riddles below include the coconut, the banana plant and the giving of bride wealth.


1 Mandingmanding bore a child, and its heart emerged first.

2 The answer to it is BANANAS.


3 It is rocky soil on the inside and a plowed field on the outside.

4 The answer to it is the fruit of a CACAO TREE.


5 When it is small, it is cut off. 6 When it becomes large, it is broken in half.

7 The answer to it is STRING BEANS.


8 A tree on a small island that does not wilt when it is cut.

9 The answer to it is HAIR.


10 A pond in something round, that dead leaves do not fall into.

11 The answer to it is a COCONUT.


12 From the time the world was created, the fine has been twelve pesos;

   13 and the making of it was valued at five pesos.

14 The answer to it is engagement and bride wealth.


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