Ulahingan: The Visit of Lagaba’an to Nelendangan

(of the Manobos of North Cotabato)

Nalandangan is the later name of an ancient city fortress called by different names, among them: Yendang, Manengneng, Libalan, and Newili-an. A chosen people, loved by the Highest God of the skyworld, dwell in the fortress city. They have come from Aruman, by riding a huge ship.

The people built the city, a huge structure along the seashore at the mouth of a river, using trees for pillars. The trees are so big that eight men are needed to link hands around each one. The beams point to the east, their tips decked with statues of reptiles carved with their mouths open, daggerlike teeth exposed. The hair of the mermaid and the locks of the deity Alimugkat, goddess of the seas, layered with grass from the skyworld, make up the roof of the fortress. On the eaves is a frieze of statues of dazzling red warriors; and on top of the building are two warriors of gold, each armed with a spear, a shield, and a buckler, both poised for battle. West of the building is a statue of a beautiful maiden, washing herself in a stream; in the east, a statue of a golden eagle with wings outspread. Surrounding the building are shrubs and flowering plants. The huge palace also has a courtyard of silver and a playground of glass. A mountain of destroyed shields and bucklers, spear shafts, and uprooted trees, hems in a battlefield. Scattered around are the teeth, skulls, and hair of previous invaders. Agyu's room, called the "bengyasan", is coated with paint nine times over. The bathing place of the maidens is fenced by boulders to protect them from sharks and crocodiles. The floor is made of silver; the inside wall of glass. There are also bathing places for the married women, for Agyu the hero, and for the young men. They never remove their armours when they bathe.

Nalandangan also has fortifications. Each of the well-known warriors – Kuyasu, nephew of Agyu; Seyluwen, the son; Piglibu, the brother; Banlak/Vanlak, another brother; Nebeyaw, another son; and Agyu -- is assigned a fort. Agyu's fort is built of iron and steel. This fort is specially provided with a cover on which eight or ten men can perform the "sa-ul". Invaders reach no farther than the opening of the fort.

After a period of peace comes an eventful time for the people and warriors of Nalandangan. Elbowing one another and splattering betel quid onto the floor, the people are assembled in the palace. Agyu's brother Lena/Lono has convented the people to an assembly while Agyu has been sleeping for days. When he wakes up, Agyu asks his wife for the water container to wash his face and for the betel chew. Directing his eyes to Lena, the favorite son of Nalandangan, Agyu recites his foreboding dream about the darkness and destruction of Nalandangan. He has dreamt that hardwood trees are uprooted and flung to distant places, and that the cliffs of the sea are turned to dust.

Pigyugung or Pemulew, Agyu's older brother, dreams that invaders have come. Agyu wants to offer a prayer because he thinks that the goddess of fate has forsaken him and his people. Thunder booms. Unperturbed, Lena laughs faintly and says that the morrow will show whether or not they are an abandoned people. Just then, the invaders reach the fortress. Lena orders the young people to arm themselves. They grab weapons from the piles of shields and spears, and they delight in putting on their battle gear again after a long time.

Vanlak, the younger brother of Agyu, shouts that he will lead the attack against the "darkness" that has enveloped the fortress of Nalandangan. Agyu's son, Nebeyew, is just as ready as any other young man. With his plume, he paces around the courtyard like a cock at the edge of the lawn. Soon, he is fighting the invaders who fall like fruit from a tree. He raises his arm, and from it come a flame that lights the place, revealing that the "darkness" has caused a magic iron rod to disable or devour many of Agyu's followers.

Learn this Filipino word:

ibong sawî

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