|Ibalong Epic. More Fun In Albay, Philippines (Photo by Ariel Chua)|
A long, long time ago, there was a rich land called Ibalong. The hero Baltog, who came from Botavora of the brave clan of Lipod, came to this land when many monsters were still roaming in its very dark forests. He decided to stay and was the first to cultivate its field and to plant them with gabi.
Then one night, a monstrous, wild boar known as Tandayag saw these field and destroyed the crops. Upon knowing this, Baltog decided to look for this boar with all his courage and patience. At last, as soon as he saw it, he fearlessly wrestled with it, with all his might. Baltog was unafraied. He was strong and brave. Though the Tandayag had very long fangs, he was able to pin down the monstrous, wild boar and break apart its very big jawbones. With this, Tandayag fell and died.
After this fight, Baltog went to his house in Tondol, carrying the Tandayag’s broken jawbones. Then, he hung it on a talisay tree in front of his house. Upon learning of the victory of their Chief Baltog, the people prepared a feast and celebrated. The very big jawbones of the dead boar became an attraction for everyone. Thus, came the tribes of Panikwason and Asog to marvel at it.
The second hero who came to the land of Ibalong was Handyong. Together with his men, he had to fight thousands of battles, and face many dangers to defeat the monsters. As warriors, they first fought the one-eyed monster with three necks in the land of Ponong. For ten months, they fought without rest. And they never stopped fighting until all these monsters were killed.
Handyong and his men made their next attack against the giant flying sharks called Triburon which had hardy flesh and sawlike teeth that could crush rocks. They continued fighting until the defeat of the last Triburon.
They tamed the wild carabaos. They even drove away the giant and very fierce Sarimao which had very sharp fingernails. And using their spears and arrows, they killed all the crocodiles which were as big as boats. With all these killings, the rivers and swamps of Ibalong turned red with blood. It was at this time that the savage monkeys became frightened and hid themselves.
Among the enemies of Handyong and his men, the serpent Oryol was the hardest to kill. Having a beautiful voice, Oryol could change its image to deceive its enemies. To capture it, Handyong tried different ways. But Oryol escaped every one of it and disappeared.
So, alone and unafraid, Handyong decided to look for Oryol in the heart of the forest. He followed the beautiful voice and was almost enchanted by it in his pursiut. Days and nights passed until Oryol came to admire Handyong’s bravery and gallantry. Then, the serpent helped the hero to conquer the monsters, thus restoring peace to the entire Ibalong.
In one of the areas of Ibalong called Ligmanan, Handyong built a town. Under his leadership and his laws, slaves and masters were treated equally. The people planted rice and because of their high regard of him, they named this rice after him. He built the first boat to ride the waves of Ibalong’s seas. Through his good example, his people became inspired and came up with their own inventions. There was Kimantong who made the plow, harrow, and other farming tools; Hablom who invented the first loom for weaving abaca clothes; Dinahong, an Agta, who created the stove, cooking pot, earthen jar, and other kitchen utensils; and Sural who brilliantly thought of the syllabary and started to write on a marble rock. This was a golden period in Ibalong.
Then suddenly, there came a big flood caused by Unos, with terrifying earthquakes. The volcanoes of Hantik, Kulasi and Isarog erupted. Rivers changed their direction and the sea waves rolled high. Destruction was everywhere. Soon, the earth parted, mountains sank, a lake was formed, and many towns in Ibalong were ruined.
Then, appeared the giant Rabot, half-man and half-beast, with awesome and terrifying powers.
People were asking who will fight against Rabot. So, Bantong, the third hero was called. He was a good friend of Handyong. He was ordered to kill the new monster in Ibalong. To do this, he took with him a thousand warriors to attack Rabot’s den. But using his wisdom against Rabot, he did not attack the giant right away. He first observed Rabot’s ways. Looking around the giant’s den, he discovered that there were many rocks surrounding it, and these were the people who were turned into rocks by Rabot.
Bantong also learned that Rabot loved to sleep during the day and stayed awake at night. So, he waited. When Rabot was already sleeping very soundly, Bantong came hear him. He cut the giant into two with his very sharp bolo and without any struggle, Rabot died, So, Ibalong was at peace once more.
Truly, Ibalong epic is more FUN in Albay, Philippines.