The Life of Lam-ang (an Iloko epic)

Complete Text (in English)

Listen then while I narrate at length
The life of Lam-ang
Because his mother conceived him that month.

She did not abstain from any edible fruit:
Tamarind fruits tender and thin as bamboo strings,
Kamias, daldaligan,

Oranges and pomelos;
Butcher fish, stripped bass, fishes of all sorts;
Clams and bivalves big as plates,

Maratangtang and sea urchins;
Sea algae, aragan and arosip;
Shucked oysters, crayfish caught with net;

Blue crabs baited with salelem,
Deer tracked down and killed, boar trapped.
All of these she tasted on her eating binge.
Until Namungan, the woman Unnayan,
Wife of Don Juan Panganiban,
Was done conceiving.

And when they had made whole
A new soul,
Her womb grew bigger.
Listen, my husband Don Juan,
Go check on our bamboo groves
In the mountain of Capariaan.

Then make me my reclining bed
The bed I shall use
Right after giving birth.

Being God-given, my husband Don Juan,
The custom cannot be gainsaid.
So go cut me some mature bamboo shoots.

He prepared to leave and once there
Went around the grove.
Then he hailed the strong winds.

As well as the torrential rains
And cavernous clouds.
Lightning and thunder came in waves,

Hitting the groves again and again
Till it looked like the choicest shoots
Had been cut down by a trained bamboo cutter.

It is unseemly, such a shame
For me to carry you, bamboos.

They thus went ahead, Don Juan behind them.

Having reached the home he came down from,
In the town of Nalbuan,
The bamboos arranged themselves in the yard.

My husband Don Juan,
Let my reclining bed be of hardwood:
This part of molave and gastan;

That part of dangla and guava,
Whose barks have been skinned,
Then buy me a pot, husband Don Juan,

And a stove to heat my bath-water.
And a one-man pot too
For our child’s umbilical cord.

And having procured all these, he trekked
To the blackest mountain, upstream
To fight the Igorots there.

And when her time came
To deliver the blood made whole,
There was not one who was not called:

The masseuse-midwife, the fish-hooker, Alisot;
The diver Marcos; Pasho the rich man.
Since none of them could induce delivery

They remembered the woman
Shrivelled with age,
For she was known for her strong fingers.

The baby started to talk as soon as the
old woman delivered him.
Namungan, my mother,
Let my name be Lam-ang when you
have me baptized.

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