Agyu : The Ilianon Epic of Mindanao

(of the Manobos of North Cotabato)

Episode 1: The killing of the Moro Datu

In the country of Ayuman lived the heroes Banlak, Agyu, and Kuyasu. In the Ilianon tradition these men were brothers, being the sons of Pamulaw. Agyu had four sisters, but only Yanbungan and Ikawangan are mentioned in the epic. Banlak's wife named Mungan was badly afflicted with a consuming disease.

One of the activities that the Ilianon people engaged in was the gathering of beeswax which they traded with the Moro, securing from the latter articles and goods that they needed in their daily lives. Although these goods and articles are not mentioned in the epic, they have been identified as cloth, blankets, bolos (especially "tabas" which are used in weeding), betel nut and lime containers, salt, and coconut oil, these things being paid for with beeswax and honey. One day Agyu sent nine "kamu" or lumps of beeswax to a Moro datu, delivered by Kuyasu and Banlak. Angered by the small quantity of the payment, the Moro datu hurled the beeswax at Kuyasu, hurting the latter's foot, which had an ulcer. Kuyasu retaliated by spearing the Moro datu to death. He must have been left behind, for it was Banlak who hurried to Ayuman to inform Agyu and the others that Kuyasu had slain the Moro datu.

Episode 2: The battle with the Moros

Agyu predicted that there was going to be a war. Inasmuch as the Moro datu had been killed, it was better for them to leave their homeland. They went to Ilian mountain where Agyu ordered the building of a fort on its top. Agyu asked his followers to gather big stones and to cut logs. Then they built houses and shelters and lived peacefully there. But soon the Moro warriors came up the Pulangi River and spotted the fort built by the Ilianon. When the Moro invaders tried to scale the mountain, Agyu ordered the cutting of the rattan that held the logs and loosening them on the attackers. The result was almost decimation of the enemy. Those who escaped the slaughter fled.

Episode 3: Agyu leads his people to another country

After this victory, Agyu decided to move to another country. He chose to go to Pinamatun mountain. They built houses and habitations there once more. He left for Sandawa mountain to hunt. Lono' tried to cut a path on the side of the mountain, while two women, Yambungan ang Ikwangan, were left behind swinging on a vine from bank to bank over the stream. Something was stinging their feet and they shouted for Lono' to come. Lono' found it was a bee and this enabled him to locate beehives in the hollows of palm trees. Then Agyu came back with a small wild pig. He asked Banlak to singe it, after which the animal was divided, and the meat and honey were distributed among the people.

Then Agyu remembered Banlak's wife in Ayuman; she had been left behind because of her afflicton. But Banlak refused to bring her share of the meat and honey, for he had abandoned her. It was Lono' who volunteered to bring Mungan her share. When he reached Ayuman, he found out that Mungan was already well. She gave Lono' betel nut and young rice to distribute to the people. Lono' returned to Pinamatun and told Agyu and the others the news that Mungan had already recovered and had become a beautiful lady. When Banlak heard that, he wanted to return to his wife but Agyu reproved him. Then the betel nut and "pinipi" young rice were distributed.

Episode 4: Agyu and his people return to Ayuman

Because of Mungan's recovery, Agyu decided to return to Ayuman, and this was done with his people following him. But when they arrived at Ayuman, they found Mungan gone. Agyu then decided to continue their journey further on until they reached the mouth of Tigyandang, at the junction of Mudan'udan. They built houses and settled there.

Episode 5: The invasion of Agyu's country and the prowess of Agyu's youngest son

In this country of Tigyandang, Agyu's people were attacked. Agyu's men fought on the seashore of the bay of Linayagon, but it was a losing battle. When only a few men were left, Agyu's youngest son, a mere boy, volunteered to fight the enemy single-handed. In four days he defeated them. The leader of the invaders invited Agyu's young son to go home with him but the boy refused. When the leader reached home, however, he found the boy already there. The datu told his wife to call their daughter and for her to dress up. The datu told her to give chew to Tanagyaw, Agyu's son, and to consider him her husband. Buy'anon invited him to sit on her lap, but Agyu's son refused, saying he was a mere boy. Then he departed.

Episode 6: Agyu's son saves the country of Baklayon from invaders and gets another marriage proposal; this time the maiden is persistent, accompanies him to his home and finally succeeds in marrying him

Tanagyaw reached the country of Baklayon. There was consternation in the place. He learned that the village was going to be attacked by invaders. He was well received and was offered the young daughter of the datu in marriage. She came out and offered him chew and asked him to be her husband, saying he was going to be their savior. He fought the invaders and defeated them. The datu had a son named Bagsili' who challenged him, but was killed in a man-to-man combat. The defeated datu took his leave and departed.

Tanagyaw told the people to shout the cry of victory. He went up the house and squatted. Paniguan, the datu's daughter, proposed marriage to him for saving their country, but Tanagyaw said that he would help them even if they did not get married. Then he said that he was going home. He departed, but the girl accompanied him home. Agyu was surprised to see his son accompanied by a young lady. He asked the maiden who she was; she identified herself but insisted on marrying Tanagyaw. So the two were married.

Episode 7: Agyu's country is invaded but Tanagyaw successfully repulses the invaders; Tanagyaw settles in Sunglawon with his wife

After some time, Agyu's country is again endangered by invaders coming from across the sea. The men fought well but were overwhelmed. A counselor foretold doom. But Tanagyaw reproved him. He put on his attire that was ten times thick and of nine layers, and picked up his shield and spear which could not be broken. Then he fought the invaders on the seashore. The dead piles up, mountains and hills of them. The leader of the invaders invited Tanagyaw to his country. But Tanagyaw said that the leader had been shamed. Upon hearing this, the leader's son fought him, using a bar of gold. Tanagyaw in turn used his golden cane called Tanigid and with it reduced the challenger to a pounded mass. The leader returned defeated to his homeland.

When peace had been restored, Agyu assigned the country of Sunglawon to his victorious son who settled there with his charming wife.

"Agyu" is a Manobo folk hero, and the epic "Agyu" of northern and central Mindanao is about him. It is 1,279 lines long and narrates seven distinct episodes in the life of the main hero, Agyu: (1) the killing of the Moro datu by Kuyasu because of the incident of the beeswax; (2) the battle with the Moro who attacked them in retaliation for the killing of their datu; (3) Agyu's leading his people to another country where he found beehives and Mungan's miraculous healing; (4) his people's return to Ayuman and their discovery that Mungan has ascended to the skyworld; (5) the invasion of Agyu's country by enemies and the defeat of the enemy by Agyu's youngest son, a mere boy, who also rejects a proposal of marriage made by the daughter of the defeated datu; (6) the saving of the country of Baklayon by Agyu's youngest son and another proposal of marriage to the boy-hero from the grateful daughter of the datu; her following Agyu to his home and their marriage; (7) the successful repulsion of invaders by Agyu's youngest son.

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