I just realized there’s a chapter or appendix I need to add to the Hari Ragat text: a short summary of the Philippine epics that were my sources of inspiration. They can help GM’s come up with adventure ideas, and players to come up with character concepts. Here are some of my notes on this addition:
Biag ni Lam-ang
This epic from the Ilocos region tells the exploits of Lam-ang, a hero of extraordinary birth who grows to manhood in a very short time. When he is born his father is missing, and this sparks Lam-ang’s first quest. He discovers his father was slain and his head taken by the Igorots, so he goes on a one-man war against them. He then goes a-courting, and wins the famous beauty Ines Kannoyan with rich gifts of gold, duels his rival the giant Sumarang for her hand, then marries her. Later Ines asks for a rare fish, which the hero dives for but he is eaten by the monstrous Berkaken fish. Lam-ang’s enchanted animal companions tell Ines Kannoyan how to bring her husband back from the dead, and the epic ends with Lam-ang resurrected by the crowing of his magical rooster.
Hudhud ni Aliguyon
The Hudhud (lay) ni Aliguyon tells of the Ifugao hero of that name. After a wondrously short childhood, Aliguyon performs various heroic exploits, then gets challenged to a fight by Pumbakhayon, the champion of another tribe. They fight for a whole year – reminiscent of the combat between Roland and Oliver in the Song of Roland – and the heroes’ skill is such that they just end up catching and throwing the same spear back at each other. Finally the two realize the other is an honorable man, and peace between the two tribes is sealed by each hero marrying the others’ sister.
The Ibalon is a Bicolano epic chronicling the exploits of the Herculean warriors Handiong and Baltog as they clear the land of Ibalon from the monsters haunting it, until it becomes safe for its inhabitants. Baltog slays the gigantic boar Tandayag bare-handed, Handiong defeats the one-eyed giants of Ponon, they exterminate the flying, fish-like Tiburon*, and defeat the giant Sarimaw. The serpent-bodied witch-goddess Oriol was converted to the side of humanity by Handiong, and she ended up helping him win his other victories.
*I wonder what the original word was in Bicolano, as Tiburon is Spanish for shark. Some of these epics are only imperfectly translated to Pilipino or English, preserving anachronisms like this one.
The Hinilawod is an epic from Panay that tells of the brother heroes Labaw Donggon, Humadapnon, and Dumalapdap, sons of the goddess Alunsina, as they quest for famous, sometimes divine brides. In various episodes the heroes end up fighting the hundred-armed giant Sikay Padalogdog, the god of the underworld Saragnayan, an eight-headed serpent, and the giant bat-monster Uyutang.
Darangen: Indarapatra at Sulayman
The Darangen is a cycle of epics from the Maguindanao and Maranao peoples chronicling the exploits of different heroes. I’ve blogged about the monsters of this epic before, but let me sum it up again: Indarapatra is Raja of Mantapuli, and when he hears of the monsters besetting Maguindanao he sends his brave younger brother Sulayman to slay them. He plants an enchanted tree by his house which is linked to Sulayman’s life. Sulayman slays the first two monsters but is crushed to death by the third; Indarapatra sees the tree wilt before his very eyes, and goes to avenge his brother. On the way he receives a gift from the spirits that lets him bring Sulayman back to life, and the Indarapatra goes on to slay the remaining monsters. The brothers then see to resettling and ordering the land of Maguindanao.
Darangen: Maradia Lawana
This is the Maranao version of the Ramayana. Maradia (Maharajah) Lawana is the epic’s version of Ravana the Rakshasa, and like him has multiple heads and magic. He can only be slain by a weapon sharpened on a magic stone, which the hero Raja Mangandiri and his brother Laksamana steal from him, and Maradia Lawana is doomed.
This is a Maranao epic chronicling the exploits of the hero Bantugan, prince of Bambaran. Bantugan like Rama gets exiled from the kingdom, in this case because his brother the Rajah Agaanon Dalinan is jealous of him; it seems Bantugan is better than his brother at everything, and the king can’t stand it.
Bantugan goes through a series of adventures, winning divine brides, gets killed by the enchantress Maginar, and is resurrected through the efforts of his magical talking parrot, his brothers Princes Madali and Mabaning, and returns to Bambaran just in time to save it from the warlord Miskoyaw. In the battle against Miskoyaw Bantugan summons his spirit servants, the tonongs, to give him the power to win; he flies against Miskoyaw’s warships on his enchanted shield, and when he boards Miskoyaw’s ship and is thrown off by the strong champion he is saved by a crocodile who throws him right back into the fight so he can finish it!
This Ulaging (lay) from the Ilianon Manobos of Bukidnon tells the tale of the hero Agyu. The story begins when a Moro datu angrily rejects the Ilianons’ tribute of wax brought him by Kuyasu, because it’s too little. The Moro datu injures Kuyasu by throwing a heavy lump of wax at him, and Kuyasu spears him to death. The Moros then attack the Ilianons, and Agyu leads his people away to a new home. They are attacked again there, and even Agyu’s prowess cannot save them, but his young son Tanagyaw enters the battle and saves the day. Agyu then makes Tanagyaw king of the neighboring land of Sunglawon, which Tanagyaw settles.
Tuwaang is an epic hero of the Bagobos, known as much for his manly bearing and charm as for his prowess. In the episode the Maiden of Monawon, Tuwaang is invited to attend the wedding feast of the Maiden but discovers he deserves the bride more than the groom does. Again and again the bride shows preference for Tuwaang, first by giving him betel chew first among all the other guests, then by sitting beside him during the feast.
Despite Tuwaang’s even helping him meet the bride price, the groom challenges Tuwaang out of jealousy. He slays Tuwaang, sending his soul to the underworld, but the god of the underworld instead reveals the secret of the groom’s weakness and sends Tuwaang back to the land of the living. They fight again, and Tuwaang slays the groom, then marries the Maiden of Monawon.