The Pericos

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    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.


    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.”


    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.”


    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.”


    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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