The Battle of the Crabs and the Waves


The Battle of the Crabs and the Waves


This story hails from the Christianized coastal tribes of the Visayas. When the Spanish came to the Philippines in the 16th century, they noticed the influences of cultures the tribes traded with, like China and Thailand. This rich cultural mix of ancient, foreign and Visayan is reflected in the stories they tell, such as this one. 


Download the story or preorder the riso zine to support our indigenous peoples.

One day the land crabs had a meeting and one of them said: “What shall we do with the waves? They sing so loudly all the time that we cannot possibly sleep.”

“Well,” answered one of the oldest of the crabs, “I think we should make war on them.”

The others agreed, and it was decided that the next day all the male crabs should get ready to fight the waves. They started for the sea, as agreed, when they met a shrimp.


“Where are you going, my friends?” asked the shrimp. “We are going to fight the waves,” answered the crabs, “They make so much noise at night, that we cannot sleep.”

“I don't think you will succeed.” said the shrimp, “The waves are very strong and your legs are so weak, that even your bodies bend almost to the ground when you walk.” He said laughing. This made the crabs very angry, and they pinched the shrimp until he promised to help them win the battle.


Then they all went to the shore. But the crabs noticed that the eyes of the shrimp were set unlike their own, so they thought his must be wrong and they laughed at him and said: “Friend shrimp, your face is turned the wrong way. What weapon have you to fight with the waves?”


“My weapon is a spear on my head,” replied the shrimp, and just then he saw a big wave coming and ran away. The crabs did not see it, however, for they were all looking toward the shore, and they were covered with water and drowned.


By and by, the wives of the crabs became worried because their husbands did not return, and they went down to the shore to see if they could help in the battle. No sooner had they reached the water, however, than the waves rushed over them and killed them.



Some time after this, thousands of little crabs appeared near the shore, and the shrimp often visited them and told them of the sad fate of their parents.

Even today these little crabs can be seen on the shore, continually running back and forth.



They seem to rush down to fight the waves, and then, as their courage fails, they run back to the land where their forefathers lived. They neither live on dry land, as their ancestors did, nor in the sea where the other crabs are, but on the beach where the waves wash over them at high tide and try to dash them to pieces.



In honor of the indigenous Filipinos, Gunitaan partnered with PAGASA to help support Aeta, Lumad, T'boli, and communities in Buhi, Camarines Sur affected by supertyphoons. In exchange for donations of any amount of your choosing is a digital compilation of the library designed for mobile.

The library is also a risograph art zine in collaboration with Bad Student, for pre-order until Dec. 11, 2020. In light of the typhoon damage they sustained, 10% of the zine proceeds will go towards their recovery. The rest of the zine proceeds will also be donated to the indigenous communities supported by PAGASA.



Gunitaan is a humble library of folktales that tell us who we are, who we have been for centuries, and what inspires us as a culture. Gunitaan seeks to use design to shed light on, honor and preserve the beauty inherent to the many cultures that keep our identity alive.

By the humans of Serious Studio.