'Why The Ocean Is Salty' | Circle Round 3

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(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)
(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)

If you could wish for anything… anything at all… what would it be?

Would it be something you want…?

Or something… you need?

It’s not always easy to tell the difference, right?

Today we’ll hear the story of two brothers, one magic jar, and a wish so big, it filled the entire ocean.

Today, our story is called “Why The Ocean Is Salty.” Versions of this story have been told all over Asia, including Vietnam, on the South China Sea... and the island nation of the Philippines.

So Circle Round, everyone, for... “Why The Ocean Is Salty.” Voices include Lou Diamond Phillips, Jon Jon Briones, and John Lescault. You can see Lou Diamond Phillips in the A&E Network show "Longmire," and Jon Jon Briones currently stars in Miss Saigon on Broadway. This episode was adapted for Circle Round by Virginia Marshall, Rebecca Sheir, and Jessica Alpert.

Adults: Print out this picture and let your listeners color along with the episode.

Things To Think About After Listening

What happens when you take more than you need? Do you remember a time when you learned that lesson? If you want, draw a picture showing what happened… and share it with a friend, a brother or a sister or a cousin...or maybe a grown-up… someone you love.

Story Transcript

NARRATOR: Once upon a time, very long ago, there were two brothers. These brothers were very different from each other. The older one, whose name was Rizaldo, was loud and impatient. The younger brother, whose name was Bayani, was quiet, and didn’t like to ask for anything, or get in anyone’s way.

Rizaldo and Bayani’s father ran a successful fishing business. By the time he was old, he had more than enough money for food and was able to build a comfortable home for his family. He told Rizaldo and Bayani that they should divide his wealth equally after he passed away.

But that is not what happened.

Rizaldo… the loud and impatient older brother... ignored his father’s wishes. He took all the money for himself and spent it on fancy clothing, and a fleet of fishing boats. He also bought a large house - the largest one on his island.

This meant that Bayani… the quiet younger brother... was very poor. He lived in a tiny house on a different island, and struggled to support his wife and four children.


But Bayani didn’t like to make a fuss, so he worked hard for every penny, going out every day in his tiny boat to catch fish.

One New Year’s Eve, Bayani was walking home from work and feeling sad. Try as he might, he had not caught one fish all day. .

BAYANI: What am I going I do? Tonightis New Year’s eve! I can’t go home to my family with nothing for them to eat!

NARRATOR: Bayani was so ashamed, he bowed his head down as he walked. Without realizing where he was going, suddenly he bumped into someone.

BAYANI: Oh! I’m so sorry!

NARRATOR: Looking up, Bayani saw an old man with a bright white beard, and a ragged bag slung over his shoulder. The man was hunched with age and walked with a cane, but his face was sharp and alert.

MAN: You look like you are distracted, my son. Your head is in the sea.

BAYANI: Yes, sir. I suppose I am distracted.

MAN: Whatever is the matter?

BAYANI: Well, tonight is New Year’s Eve, and I didn’t catch any fish for my family to eat. We are very poor, and I had no luck today.

NARRATOR: The old man smiled.

MAN: I can tell you are a good person, my son. I will give you some help.

NARRATOR: The old man reached a wrinkled hand into his tattered bag and took out…

BAYANI: A jar…?

NARRATOR: It was a big, glass jar. Bayani noticed... it was empty.

MAN: This, my son, isn’t just any jar. It’s magic.

BAYANI: Magic?

MAN: Yes: magic! But you must use it in a very special way. You see, this jar will give you anything you wish. All you have to do is tell it what you want. But you must remember to ask for only what you need. And then, when you have enough, you must tell the jar, ‘Stop!’ Do you understand?

NARRATOR: Bayani nodded.

BAYANI: Yes, I must only ask the jar for what I need.

MAN: And when there is enough?

BAYANI: I must tell the jar to ‘stop.’

MAN: Good. Now, I think you have a family waiting for you. Happy New Year’s Eve!

NARRATOR: The old man handed Bayani the magic jar and disappeared into the forest.

When Bayani got back to his house, he put the jar on the table. He gathered his wife and four children around him.

BAYANI: Jar, I need some fish... please.

NARRATOR: Suddenly, the jar began to fill up with fish! Delicious white fish that was good to eat! Remembering what the man had told him, Bayani waited until there was enough fish for his family. And then…?

BAYANI: Stop, jar.

NARRATOR: ...And the jar stopped! Just like that! Bayani took the fish out of the jar and handed it to his son so he could start cooking.

BAYANI: Thank you, jar. Now I need some salt for the fish… please.

NARRATOR: Just like that, the jar began to fill with salt. Bayani only needed a little bit of salt. So, as soon as he saw a thin layer along the bottom...?

BAYANI: Stop, jar.

NARRATOR: And the jar stopped!

Bayani’s family ate well that New Year’s Eve. And they continued using the jar into the new year… asking only for what they needed, and nothing more.

One day, Bayani’s older brother Rizaldo hopped into one of his many boats and sailed to Bayani’s island. When he reached the shore, he started to walk toward his younger brother’s house.

As he got closer, he spotted Bayani through the window. It seemed his little brother was acting strangely. Was he talking to a jar…?!?

Rizaldo stopped at the edge of the yard to watch.

BAYANI: Jar, I want some salt.

NARRATOR: After Bayani uttered those words, Rizaldo watched as the jar began to fill with salt.

And when there was enough salt in the jar for Bayani’s family…?

BAYANI: Stop, jar.

NARRATOR: And the jar stopped!

Now, as you know, Rizaldo was an impatient man… and a greedy one, too. He ran up to Bayani’s house and burst through the door.

RIZALDO: Little brother! You have to tell me where you got that jar!

NARRATOR: Bayani was startled to see Rizaldo. He noticed his older brother was trembling, and his eyes were as wide as saucers.

BAYANI: Big brother! ! I did not see you standing there.

RIZALDO: I say again, little brother: where did you get that jar?

NARRATOR: Bayani smiled, remembering his encounter on New Year’s Eve.

BAYANI: I got it from an old man. It was New Year’s Eve and I hadn’t caught any fish and -

RIZALDO: (interrupting) That is a magic jar, little brother! It should be mine! You should give it to me because I am the older brother!

NARRATOR: Now, remember: Bayani didn’t like to make a fuss. So usually, he would say yes to his older brother. But Bayani knew Rizaldo was a greedy man. And he knew he would never follow the old man’s instructions. So, this time would have to be different.

BAYANI: No, big brother.

RIZALDO: What did you say?

BAYANI: I said “no,” Rizaldo. I cannot give you the jar.

RIZALDO: Why not?

BAYANI: Because the old man gave the jar to me, and I know the very special way to use it.

NARRATOR: Rizaldo’s face grew bright red. He clenched his hands in to fists.

RIZALDO: Do you know how much money salt is worth? I could have the jar make pile after pile of salt, and then sell it to become a rich man! Even richer than I am now! You are SUCH a fool.

NARRATOR: Bayani remembered what the old man had told him. That he must only ask the jar for what he needed.

BAYANI: I’m sorry, Rizaldo. I will not give you the jar.

NARRATOR: Rizaldo was so angry that he stormed out of Bayani’s house, slamming the door behind him. He stomped back to his big boat.

RIZALDO: Who does that Bayani think he is? I am the older brother. I should have that magic jar.

NARRATOR: Rizaldo’s fury grew as he rowed his boat. He grunted as he drove his oars through the water. Suddenly, he had an idea.

RIZALDO: If Bayani won’t give me the magic jar... I will steal it! Then I will have piles and piles of salt all to myself. I will sell those piles and piles of salt and make piles and piles of money!

NARRATOR: Rizaldo was pleased with his plan. He congratulated himself for being so smart, and as he rowed the rest of the way home… he smiled.

Rizaldo wanted that jar so badly he could taste it. So late at night, he left his grand house and got into his boat. He paddled across the bay as quietly as he could.

RIZALDO: I will steal that jar right out of my brother’s house. He is not smart like I am. He does not know how to make money. He does not deserve that magic jar.

NARRATOR: Bayani’s house was quiet when Rizaldo arrived. A full moon was shimmering and an owl hooted from a nearby tree. When Rizaldo pushed open the door he saw the magic jar sitting on his brother’s table. Standing on tiptoe, he crept across the room and picked up his new treasure.

Suddenly, Rizaldo heard a loud creak. He froze. What if his brother awoke and saw him stealing the jar?

But then he realized the creak was just the wind, blowing against the humble wood house.

Rizaldo breathed a sigh of relief. Clutching the magic jar, he snuck through the door, hopped back into his boat and started rowing.

RIZALDO: I’ve got it! I will be the richest man on the island! I will be the richest man in the world!

NARRATOR: Rizaldo was so excited he simply could not hold himself back. Dropping the oars, he put the jar on his lap. Rays of moonlight glinted off the jar’s glass sides.

RIZALDO: Jar, I want some salt.

NARRATOR: Rizaldo chuckled as the jar began to fill with salt.

RIZALDO: Ha! That silly Bayani. Why did he never think to do this? With this jar I will have so much salt and make so much money!

NARRATOR: The salt inside the jar kept going up and up. When it reached the very top, it kept on going. Soon salt was pouring over the sides of the jar. It was pouring onto the boat. It filled the whole bottom of the boat but Rizaldo did not tell the jar to stop.

Before long, Rizaldo was up to his ankles in salt. Then his knees. Then his waist! The boat began to sink lower and lower into the water.

Suddenly, Rizaldo realized he was in trouble.

RIZALDO: Oh no! The salt is too heavy for my boat. Cut it out, jar! You are making my boat sink!

NARRATOR: But Rizaldo did not say ‘stop’... so the jar did not stop.

RIZALDO: Hey, jar! Did you hear me? My boat is filling up with salt and I will soon be in the water if you do not behave!

NARRATOR: But the jar did not stop. It made so much salt, Rizaldo’s boat sank beneath the water. The magic jar drifted down into the sea, making more and more salt as it went. Rizaldo could do nothing but summon his strength and swim home.

But that’s not where our story ends. According to legend… because of Rizaldo’s impatience and greed… all of that salt… mixed with all of that water… became what we now know as... “the ocean.”

To this day, the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, all the oceans of the world are salty — all because Rizaldo asked for what he wanted... and not what he needed.

The salty water reminds us to take only what we need... and when there is enough?

We say ‘stop.’

Don't Forget!

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Rebecca Sheir Host, Circle Round
Rebecca Sheir is the host "Circle Round," WBUR's kids storytelling podcast.



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