Felipe Soliman and the Jars of Gold

The great Nick Joaquin left us with tales and legends about old Intramuros. The story of Felipe Soliman, said to be a descendant of Rajah Soliman is our favorite. Here’s how Joaquin retold the story.

Towards the end of the Spanish era, there lived in Paco a stonemason by the name of Felipe Soliman. Like many descendants of the old kings of Maynilad, he had fallen on hard time, hardly able to support a large family on his earnings as mason. One night he was approached by a thin old Spaniard who said he had a piece of work for Soliman to do, and would pay well for it, but on three conditions: the job must be finished that very night; Soliman must swear to tell no one about it; and he must allow himself to be blindfolded on the way to and from the site of the job.

Badly needing the money, Soliman agreed. He joined the Spaniard in his rig, was sworn to secrecy and blindfolded, and taken away. When his blindfold was removed, Soliman found himself in the courtyard if a large old house. The Spaniard said he wanted a tomb built under the paving of the courtyard.

Soliman set the work at once. He dug a hole and cemented it. Then he helped the old Spaniard bury what had to be entombed, which turned out to be three big jars filled with gold coins, gold bars, and gold jewelry. After the tombs was covered and the paving replaced, Soliman was again blindfolded and taken home. On his earnings for that night, his family lived a bit more comfortably for a time.

Several years had passed when Soliman was summoned to repair an old house in Intramuros. The Spanish señora who owned it sighted that repairing the old house was really a waste of money; no one cared to rent it because it was supposed to be haunted by the ghost of a former tenant: an old Spanish miser who had died without leaving a centavo. He had been buried for years but at night, in this house, he could be heard clinking his gold in the courtyard.

One look at the courtyard and Soliman knew he had been there before. He made a bargain with the Spanish señora: let her allow him to live in the house rent-free while he was repairing it and he promised to get rid of the ghost.

He was a good as his word. The house was repaired, the haunting ceased, and the mason surprised the señora by offering to buy the property. Since the Revolution had broken out and the señora wished to retire to Spain, the sale was made. Now a rich man, and growing richer through investment, Soliman lived like a king in that old mansion in Intramuros, where, on the very same spot, his ancestor, Rajah Soliman, had palace in the bays when Maynilad was a Kingdom by the sea.

-Nick Joaquin, The Seven Golden Cities of the Sun

Published in: on August 17, 2011 at 7:36 pm  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Interesting tale and from Nick Joaquin no less. Thanks for sharing this.


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