Monday, July 2, 2007

Biag ni Lam-ang: Synopsis

Biag ni Lam-ang

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The Biag ni Lam-ang or Life of Lam-ang (complete Iloko title: Historia a Pacasaritaan ti Panagbiag ni Lam-ang iti Ili a Nalbuan nga Asaoa ni D.a Ines Cannoyan iti Ili a Calanutian) is a pre-Hispanic epic of the Ilokano people from the Ilocos region of the Philippines. Recited and originally written in Iloko language, it is believed to be the work of many poets from various generations. At around 1640, a blind Ilokano bard named Pedro Bucaneg put the epic poem into a written language.

[edit] Synopsis

The hero, Lam-ang, could talk immediately after birth. He selected his own name, chose his own sponsor, and asked for his father’s presence. Barely nine months old, Lam-ang fought against the headhunters who killed his father. He was also eaten by a river monster called "Berkakan," but was reborn from his retrieved bones.

Nine months before Lam-ang was born to a noble family, his father Don Juan left for the mountains to defeat an evil tribe of Igorots. Unfortunately, he was beheaded, and his head was displayed at the center of the village as a prize. When Lam-ang's mother Ina Namongan gave birth, she was surprised when the baby grew up instantly. Lam-ang, as he was named, promised to find out what happened to his father by going up the mountains himself. There, helped by a good tribe of Igorots, he encountered the evil tribe and killed every one of them as vengeance, just by using a single spear.

When he returned home, he was so tired that he wanted to bathe. He dipped into the Amburayan River, which was instantly drenched in mud and blood. So filthy was the flow that the fish in the river crawled out and died on its shores.

The following day, he told his mother Ina Namongan that he wanted to marry. Using his supernatural abilities, he predicted he would wed a woman named Ines Kannoyan in a place called Calanutian. Accompanied by his pets, a rooster, a hen, and a dog, he journeyed to get the beautiful Ines Kannoyan. On the way, he encountered a man called Sumarang with very big eyes. They fought and Lam-ang won, killing Sumarang.

Ines Kannoyan had a multitude of suitors, and they crowded her house in Calanutian. So many were they that Lam-ang had to step on their heads and walk through a window just to enter the house. Lam-ang’s rooster flapped its wings, and the long house toppled. This amazed everybody, especially Ines. Then, Lam-ang’s dog barked and the long house rose to its former site.

Ines Kannoyan was so immediately stricken by his strength that she agreed to marry him. Nevertheless, her parents were still skeptical: they needed a dowry from his parents in return for Ines Kannoyan’s hand. Lam-ang agreed to return in a week to bring his mother as well as wealth and goods. Back in his town, Lam-ang prepared a house gilded with gold, filled with fruit, jewels, statues, and other amenities. When he sailed back to Calanutian, Ines Kannoyan’s family was stunned. The wedding was done on the spot.

After the wedding Lam-ang was tasked to catch some fish in the Amburayan River and when he dove into the river he went straight to the mouth of the Berkakan. His wife was deeply anguished. The old diver Lacay Marcos was fetched to get the bones of Lam-ang excreted by the Berkakan. When the bones were retrieved, the pets of Lam-ang performed magics and Lam-ang was again brought to life.


Juan N. Riingen said...

The story of the "Biag ni Lam-ang" is good story about the resurrection or coming back to life just like the story of Jesus Christ. Lam-ang is an ilocano epic story told by our ancestors long long time ago, even before the spaniards came to the Philippines.

Mariah Antonio said...

Hi. I am looking for the cultural cleansing in this epic.