The Pericos





Throughout the Visayan islands almost every family owns a pericos,

kept as American children keep canary birds. The pericos is about

the size and color of a Crow, but has a hard white hood that entirely

covers its head. The people teach it but one phrase, which it repeats

continually, parrot fashion. The words are, "Comusta pari? Pericos

tao." (How are you, father? Parrot-man.) "Pari" means padre or

priest. The people address the pericos as "pari" because its white

head, devoid of feathers, seems to resemble the shaven crowns of the

friars and native priests.





I





In his small wooden box

That hangs on the wall

Sits a queer-looking bird

That in words sounds his call.

From daybreak to twilight

His cry he repeats,

Resting only whenever

He drinks or he eats.

He never grows weary,--

Hear! There he goes now!

"Comusta pari?

Pericos tao."







II





And all the day long

You can hear this strange cry:

"How are you, father?

A parrot-man I."

He sits on his perch,

In his little white cap,

And pecks at your hand

If the cage door you tap.

Now give him some seeds,

Hear him say with a bow,

"Comusta pari?

Pericos tao."







III





Poor little birdie!

How hard it must be

To sit there in prison

And never be free!

I'll give you a mango,

And teach you to say

"Thank you," and "Yes, sir,"

And also "Good day."

You'll find English as easy

As what you say now,

"Comusta pari?

Pericos tao."







IV





I'll teach you "Good morning"

And "How do you do?"

Or "I am well, thank you,"

And "How are you too?"

"Polly is hungry" or

"It's a fine day."

These and much more

I am sure you could say.

But now I must go,

So say with your bow,

"Comusta pari?

Pericos tao."





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