The Epic of Labaw Donggon

(of the Sulod people of Central Panay)

Labaw Donggon is one of three handsome sons of the "diwata" Abyang Alunsina and her mortal husband Buyung Paubari, the other two being Humadapnon and Dumalapdap. Being of semi-divine birth, the three possess extraordinary powers. Labaw Donggon, for instance, miraculously grows into a sturdy young man shortly after his birth and embarks upon the first of his three courting adventures.

The first object of his affections is Abyang Ginbitinan, who lives "by the mouth of Handog, by the river Halawud." Dressed in his best clothes, Labaw Donggon goes to Ginbitinan’s house to visit her and to tell her that he will send his parents to arrange the marriage. This is done, the dowry is agreed upon and given, the wedding is held.

Not long after his wedding to Ginbitinan, Labaw Donggon hears about another beautiful woman, Anggoy Doronoon, of the underworld, and conceives a desire to court her. So he visits her and wins her without any difficulty. Presumably [the text does not say so] he stays with her for a while and then returns to Handog.

Very soon, however, Labaw Donggon is again restless with desire for another woman. This time he chooses a married woman, Malitung Yawa Sinagmaling Diwata, "who resides where the brilliant light of the sun starts," for she is the wife of Saragnayan, who takes charge of the course of the sun. Labaw Donggon dresses in his best, as usual, and after gazing into a "crystal ball" to know how Malitung Yawa looks, sails upward in his magic boat to the land of the sun. His coming is, however, detected by Saragnayan, who intercepts him. Upon learning Labaw Donggon’s intentions upon his wife, Saragnayan sternly tells him: "You can have Malitung Yawa … if I do not have life anymore." A long, hard fight between the two men follows, first, by using their respective charms, and later by using their own native strength. But though Labaw Donggon submerges Saragnayan into the water for seven years and puts him on top of a stone and beats him with coconut trunks, he cannot kill Saragnayan. The reason is that Saragnayan’s life is not within his body but kept inside the body of a pig. After many years of fighting, Labaw Donggon weakens and Saragnayan eventually defeats him, binds his arms and feet, and puts him inside a pig pen below his kitchen.

Meanwhile, in Handog, Anggoy Ginbitinan has borne a son, Asu Mangga, who asks his mother about his father. And down below in the underworld, Anggoy Doronoon has also given birth to a son, Buyung Baranugun. Though his umbilical cord is still uncut, Baranugun asks about his father and insists that his mother allow him to search for him. He dresses up and asks his mother for his poisoned arrow "which with one shot pierces through seven men." Asu Mangga has likewise decided to go in search of his father and dresses up in his best clothes. Ginbitinan warns him that he is likely to meet his young brother and that if he does, they should not fight each other.

The brothers do meet, Asu Mangga riding on a magic boat and Baranugun walking on the sea. The latter joins his brother in his magic boat and they plan their search. Looking into the crystal ball, they learn the whereabouts of their father and see the pitiful state into which he has fallen: he has become hairy all over. Vowing to avenge their father’s humiliation, the brothers steer their boat to the land of darkness. By invoking the power of their "pamlang", the boat is able to soar to the Land of the Morning Sun. Their arrival does not escape the notice of Saragnayan who wonders who they may be. The two brothers recover their father’s boat, find where he is imprisoned under Saragnayan’s house, break the iron bars of his cage by invoking their "pamlang", and lead him out of his cage and to their magic boat. There they wash their father clean until he is handsome once more. Labaw Donggon tells them of his long and futile fight with Saragnayan. The two sons then shout their challenge to Saragnayan – ten times. It is so loud that Saraganayan loses his courage.

Learn this Filipino word:

ibaón sa limot