The Epic of Nalandangan: Matabagka Searches for the Deity of the Wind

(of the Talaandig people of Central Bukidnon)

Part I. Matabagka (also called Pigsayo, Yugmukanon, Yambunganon) persuades Agyo to confide to her a warning that Agyo has received from his "tumanod" (guardian spirit) and which has plunged him into a state of gloom and restlessness. The warning is to the effect that Imbununga (also called Inhampang) is preparing to invade Nalandangan, Agyo's kingdom. If this happens, Nalandangan and its people will be wiped out, for Imbununga is the keeper of the taklubu, that "nurtures the powerful whirlwind" and of the baklaw, "in which dwells the strongest windstorm." Not at all disturbed by this threat to their kingdom, Matabagka chuckles and assures Agyo that she will settle the problem right away.

Part II. Matabagka takes leave of Agyo and prepares for a journey. Then, taking her "libon" (also called "binulay"), the Bukidnon's maiden's "handbag," in which she carries betel chew, etc., she flies away, borne on her sulinday (or sadok), a small hat which Matabagka can transform into an air vessel. As soon as Agyo discovers the departure of his sister, he orders a search for her. Tomulin, Agyo's nephew and chief of the warriors of Nalandangan, dispatches warriors to all directions to overtake Matabagka and ask her to return to Nalandangan.

Parts III and IV. Directed and propelled by a friendly wind, Matabagka finds Imbununga's house and lands in the middle of its hall, right beside the stool where sits Imbununga, who is momentarily rendered speechless by the sudden appearance beside him of a beautiful maiden, who seemed like "a dropped "mamaon" (betel chew)" or like "a ray of the sun, a beam of sunlight." Pretending to be in search of the way to Nalandangan, Matabagka does not succeed in her ruse, for Imbununga will not give any information until she consents to lime the betel chew for him (i.e., he his wife). Moreover, he tells her that she cannot float her sulinday without his consent because he controls the winds. So Matabagka is forced to stay in Imbununga's house as his wife. Meanwhile, all the efforts of Agyo's men to find her fail, adding to the torment of Agyo and to the anxiety of everyone in Nalandangan.

Part V. Though now the wife of Imbununga, Matabagka does not forget her mission. As soon as she discovers where Imbununga keeps the taklubu and the baklaw, she acts. She gives Imbununga drugged betel chew and when the portion takes effect, she seizes the taklubu and the baklaw from the sleeping Imbununga and escapes on her sulinday.

Part VI. When he wakes up and discovers the loss of his taklubu and baklaw, Imbununga orders his warriors to pursue the fleeing Matabagka. By his power, Imbununga causes Matabagka's sulinday to descend at the seashore.

Part VII. Imbununga's men now overtake Matabagka, who, however, fights back so effectively that she kills many of them. The warriors have a difficult time fighting with Matabagka, especially because Imbununga instructs them not to wound her. After many days of fighting, Matabagka's fair complexion darkens.

Part VIII. Fortunately, by this time, the sound of fighting reaches the ears of Agyo's men who happen to be in the vicinity. Tomulin recognizes Matabagka and rushes to her rescue with his men, fighting off the pursuers, thus allowing Matabagka to escape to Nalandangan.

Part IX. Agyo is glad and relieved to see Matabagka, who in her weariness can hardly climb the steep path leading to her house. She is quickly attended to, and while chewing the betel which her mother gives her to restore her strength, she narrates her adventures. She specially mentions Imbununga's show of concern for her safety when he instructed his warriors not to harm her. Agyo then decides to end the war, realizing that winning to his side Imbununga, now Matabagka's husband, will greatly strengthen the force of Nalandangan.

Part X. Accordingly, Agyo and his father, Pamulaw, go to the scene of fighting and hold a friendly dialogue with Imbununga, who agrees to end the fight provided he discovers the thief who stole his taklubu and baklaw. When told that it is Matabagka who stole them, he smiles and speaks fondly of her bravery. Nevertheless, he expresses sorrow over the loss of so many men. He is greatly relieved to know that Matabagka can bring them back to life. Since it is only by means of the taklubu that the fighting can be stopped, Matabagka is summoned. She returns the baklaw and taklubu to Imbununga, who then invokes the whirlwind and the windstorm to blow on the fighting men. The strong winds so weaken the men that they can no longer fight. The war over, Matabagka now revives all the dead men by putting betel chew into their mouths, after which all the warriors return to Nalandangan amidst great joy and merriment.

"Matabagka Searches for the Deity of the Wind," collected from the Talaandig people of Central Bukidnon, is a heroic song that has only recently been made available to students of Philippine literature. It is interesting because it narrates the adventures of a heroine, Matabagka, a sister of the chief Bukidnon hero, Agyo. Attractive in person and character, full of high spirits, resourceful, and independent-minded, Matabagka may be said to anticipate the liberated Filipino woman of our present day.

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