Biag ni Lam-ang (English: The Life of Lam-ang) is a pre-Hispanic epic poem of the Ilokano people

from the Ilocos region of the Philippines. Recited and originally written in the Ilokano language, it is believed to be the work of many poets from various generations, and was first preserved in writing around 1640, by a blind Ilokano bard named Pedro Bucaneg. Its origin occurred during the pre-Spanish period of the Philippines and it is one of the greatest Ilocano epics of the pre-colonial literature of the country. The story is a mix of adventure and romance with exciting and unpredictable outcomes. Lam- ang was an extraordinary being. He started to speak at an incredibly young age and was the one to choose his own name. His adventure began when his father, Don Juan, went to a battle but never came back. At the age of barely nine months he went to search for his father in the highlands where his father was said to go. Aware that her child was a blessed, extraordinary creature,Namongan, his mother, allowed him to go. Lam-ang then went off to search for his father, leaving his grieving mother behind. When Lam-ang reached the place, he was enraged upon seeing his father’s head on top of a bamboo pole that was stuck in the ground which was a scene that he had dreamed before reaching the place. Lam-ang then demanded to know the reason why that had happened to his father, but did not receive an answer. Instead he was demanded by the chieftain of the village to go or else he would receive the same fate like his father. Instead of running, Lam-ang bravely fought with the chieftain and its tribesmen. Lam-ang won the fight with less effort, serving as his revenge for his father. The epic poem also presented some humorous points. As Lam-ang was on his way home he passed by a river (Amburayan River which is known to be the biggest river in Ilocos) and then decided to have a dip. The dirt from his body caused the death of fishes, crabs and shrimps in the river. He was gladly attended by some of the women who saw him. Lam-ang, upon reaching home decided to court his love interest, Ines Kannoyan. Despite his mother’s disapproval he followed his heart and set off again on another journey for her love. His adventures had never been that easy. He faced one of Ines’ suitor and monsters. But he won the battles with ease. Upon reaching He was helped by his magical pets: cat and dog. Lam-ang’s rooster flapped its wings and a house toppled. This amazed

everybody, especially Ines. Then, Lam-ang’s dog barked and the house rose up. Being invited to the lunch of the family of Ines, Lam-ang impressed Ines’ parents with his wealth and upon returning he gave to the family two golden ships. Their wedding was held with a lot of feasts. However Lam-ang’s story did not end there. His bones were recovered and Lam-ang was resurrected with the help of his magical pet. Ines was ordered by the rooster to wrap the bones with her tapis while the hen was flapping its wings and the dog was growling. In an instant Lam-ang happily rejoined his wife. The epic poem showed some of the earlier customs, culture, tradition and belief of the Ilocano people of the Philippines. The story presented some of the qualities of the people of the Ilocos region- adventurous, hard, and brave as strongly portrayed by Lam-ang. The epic poem presented the fact that life is full of trials and problems. One must be strong and just accept the reality as it is already part of life.

Bagobo epic poetry
The Bagobo tribe has an epic hero named Tuwaang (Tatuwang) Tuwaang was a brave and strong warrior with various powers. In one story, he rode a lightning to the land of Pinanggayungan and later, met the maiden of the Buhong Sky who was running away from the young man of Pangumanon: A giant with great vigor. Tuwaang and the giant fought but it was an even match. So the giant used his magical powers and threw a flaming bar at the hero. Entwining itself at Tuwaang, our hero escaped this ordead and used his own magical ability to call the wind to fan the flames and let the giant be engulfed by the flames.

Bicol epic poetry
From the Bicol province comes the Ibalon. The Ibalon relates the mystical origins of the first man and the first woman of Aslon and Ibalon, which are current provinces of Camarines, Albay, Sorsogon, Catanduanes and Masbate. Hiandong, one of the heroes of Ibalon (The others are Baltog and Bantong) was a great leader of warriors. He fought against a giant Cyclops for ten months, defeated the winged Tiburon and the fierce Sarimao and won over the seductive serpent Oriol before starting a village. His Village prospered and soon, others invented the plough, harrow and other farming implements. Events in this epic also had a flood story similar to that of the Biblical Genesis.

Ifugao epic poetry
The Hud-Hud is about the life and heroism of the native Ifugao. The most prominent and well admired native Ifugao is Aliguyon of the Gohandan tribe. Aliguyon possessed strange power and strength. He had the ability to travel to far away places without the need to rest, eat or sleep. He could also arrive in a place, after a long journey without

feeling tired. Aliguyon had never been beaten in any fight or battle. He could catch and face any weapon from the air, and he could defeat his avenging foes. In the beginning, Aliguyon only wanted to kill the enemies of his father. But after learning that his father didn't have enemies, Aliguyon was advised by his father to just use his strength and power to win a female rightful to become his wife and companion in life. One extraordinary event in Aliguyon's life was his duel against Pumbakhayon, a warrior who had the same fighting strength and skills as Aliguyon. Pumbakhayon was from a nearby tribe called Daligdigan. Aliguyon and Pumbakhayon had a duel that lasted a year and a half. After a brief intermission, the two resumed their fight which lasted for another year and a half. Eventually, both men realized that they will not be able to beat each other. Therefore, they made a simple arrangement. Aliguyon agreed to marry Bugan, a sister of Pumbakhayon. While Pumbakhayon married Aginaya, a sister of Aliguyon. The arrangement unified the tribes of Gohandan and Daligdigan. Here ended the story of the Hud-Hud epic.

Ilocano epic poetry
The Ilocanos had their own, pre-Hispanic epic. Believed to be the work of many poets from various generations, the epic is called Biag ni Lam-Ang. (Life of Lam-Ang.) For the first time, the father of Ilocano poetry named Pedro Bukaneg put down the epic poem in writing around 1640. The hero, Lam-Ang could talk immediately after birth. He picked his own name, chose his own sponsor and asked for his father’s presence. Barely 9 months old, Lam-Ang fought against the headhunters who killed his father. He was also eaten by a sea monster, but was reborn from his retrieved bones. He also journeyed to get the beautiful Ines Kannoyan accompanied by his pets; a rooster and a dog. (This reminds us of an old Japanese tale titled Momotaro the Peach boy.) Ines Kannoyan’s place was filled with suitors, Lam-Ang’s rooster flap it’s wings and the long house toppled. This amazed every body, especially Ines. Then, Lam-Ang’s dog barks and the long house rose to it’s former. Lam-Ang gave Ines two golden ships filled with treasures, and then he married her from noah.

Mindanao epic poetry
The people of Mindanao had rich literatures that exist only in their minds and memories. Only recently that these epic poetries were put in writing, so these can be studied by the public. Locally called "Darangan", these epic poetries were similar to those of that Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. The Darangan tells of the sentimental and romantic adventures of noble warriors, one of them, is about a warrior-prince called Bantugan.. Prince Bantugan was the brother of the chieftain of a village called Bumbaran. Bantugan owned a magic shield, was protectedby divine spirits called "Tonongs" and was capable of rising from the dead. Once his enemies attacked Bembaran, thinking he was dead. In the nick of time, Bantugan’s soul was recovered and he saved the village. There is also an episode, where Prince Bantugan was on a quest and fought his enemies with his magic Kampilan (Native sword). Soon, he got tired and fell on to the water. A crocodile delivered him to his enemies, but he regained his strength, escaped his captors, and commands an oar less ship and won the battle. There were also “Darangan epic poetries

that relates stories of wars about abducted princesses. Just like the chronicles of the Trojan War. The Darangan is one of the oldest and longest Philippine Epic poetries. Several nights were needed to recite the twenty five beautiful chapters. The Darangan, sung in it’s original, possessed a sustained beauty and dignity, it might be studied for it’s esthetic values alone.

Visayan epic poetry
The Maragtas Chronicles of Panay is a history of rulers of the island from the time of the Ten Malay Datus (rulers) that settled from Borneo. The "Legend of the Ten Datus (chieftains)" narrates about the forefathers of the Filipinos and the story of ten Bornean chieftains who escaped the cruel regime of Sultan Makatunaw. Datu Puti along with other nine chieftains plans to leave Borneo. Riding their native boats, they ventured into the night and across the wide ocean. At first, the ten rulers and their families were afraid that they might perish in the middle of the sea. Soon, they have reached the islands of Panay and befriended with the natives called Aetas. The Aetas are quite friendly and decides to sell a piece of their land to the ten chieftains. The chieftains gave the Aetas leader, Marikudo a golden Salakot (Native head piece) After this; the chieftains and Aetas lived in peace and harmony. The Haraya is another epic poem from Panay. It is a collection of rules of conduct told in the form of heroic tales. The "Hari sa Bukid" of Negros is a mythical epic of Kanlaon (Kan comes from a Persian word "Khan" meaning "King" and "Laon" from a Malay word meaning "Ancient.") and "Hinilawod" an epic poem made by the early inhabitants of Iloilo, Aklan and Antique also from Panay. The hero of Hinilawod, “Humadapnon” was of divine ancestry. He had super natural powers and guardian spirits to protect him. His most exciting adventure was his search for Nagmalitong Yawa: A beautiful maiden whom he saw in his dream. He boarded his golden boat, sailed amidst dangerous seas, and was captured by an enchantress/engkantada. Finally, he found and won the love of Nagmalitong Yawa.

Other epic poetries
Dr. Jose Panganiban, in his book on Philippine literature mentioned that "Old Folks" in the Batangas area which anciently covered part of the Rizal province up to Morong, all of Laguna, Batangas, Quezon , Marinduque and the Mindoro Priovince, mentioned an epic that their elders used to chant but can’t remember. These are not definite stories. Only war songs and war dances accompanied with music on the "Kulintang". The "Kulintang", it should be noted, is a native "Tom-Tom" consists of a bamboo reed with "strings" raised up from its own fibers. Josue Soncuya mentions the epic that Dr. Jose Panganiban calls "Kumintang", in Chapter XIX of the Boletin dela Sociedad Historico-Geografica de Filipinas. There was a tale around the 14th Century: King Soledan sent his sons Bagtas, manduquit and Likyaw of the house of Madjapahit to mai and Lusong which were then, part of the kingdom of Lontok. The conquest of the northern territories through singing and dancing of warriors form the integral part of the "Kumintang." Other epic poems being written and chanted are: The Sud-ansud of the Tagbanuas from Palawan The Dagoy, also from Palawan The Parang Sabil of the Sulo Muslims The Ulagingen and Selch of the Manobos The Panglima Munggona and Jikiri of the Talusugs The kalinga

Banna Bidian of the Ibaloys The Sulod labaw Denggen …and, bagyu of Bukidnon. Eulogio B. Rodriguez, former director of the Philippine National Library said that "Anonymous vernacular writers of past ages had no thought of bringing glory to their own, but labored with the central idea of transmitting to prosperity in a concrete and permanent form, the great mass of Philippine legends which was only preserved by word of mouth…With their work as corner stone, later writers have been gradually adding block by block to the literary edifice to approximate something similar to a national literature of our own." When the late American Noble Prize winner William Faulkner visited the Philippines, he was impressed by our epic poems. He stated that: " The Filipinos have their own traditions of poetry in their folklore, in their language and dialects. This must be recorded and that’s the job of the writers. In doing that, he gives a pattern of hope and aspirations for the people to advance not merely as a nation of people but as a member of a family of nations, the human family."

Compilation of Philippine Epics

Submitted by: Ralph Napagao

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