Ulahingan: The Visit of Lagaba’an to Nelendangan - Page 2 of 2

(of the Manobos of North Cotabato)

Lena arms himself carefully, with the orioles hovering over his plume, signifying his diwata is guiding and protecting him. The he leaps on to the pebbled arena, and he sinks deep there up to his belt. He instructs his shield and buckler to be firmly rooted to the foundation of the underworld. Then, the enormous magic iron rod warns him to be ready because he might be blown by a storm or swallowed up by a mighty wind. The iron rod now withdraws to the sea and from there trots back to the battlefield, knocking Lena's shield and buckler to pieces. Lena leaps overhead, grapples with the rod, and throws it to the outer space. The rod devastates every kingdom that it passes.

When it returns, it warns Lena of its revenge. The rod tries to gnaw Lena's slender waist, but Lena's waist is alloyed. Then Lena grabs the rod, and, locked together, they spin, until Lena smashes it against the hardwood trees and the cliff, turning them into a wasteland. Lena then implores his protecting diwata to turn his legs with anklets into sharp swords, and his limbs into sabers. With them, he splinters and powders the monster of iron. But out of the splinters and powder appears a fleet of invading ships. In one ship is a king, and from all come a thousand troops. They land and destroy the plantations, the trees, and gardens. The people of Yendang are fettered on the decks of the ships. Lena leaps onto the decks and pulverizes the chain that binds them by simply touching it. His freed followers are transported back to the spacious courtyard.

A toddler welcomes the old king to Yendang. As the king sits at the portal of the courtyard, he is directed to see for himself his own ships being splintered and strewn around. Unmoved, the king only encourages his followers to continue devastating the gardens and plantations. Lena chases the invaders around, and they assemble at the seashore. Their king exhorts them to shout and to knock their shields to produce a thunderous peal by which to frighten the inhabitants of Yendang. The local folks respond by following Lena's instructions to produce an even more deafening sound that drowns out the invaders' shouts and banging of shields. Then, Lena tells his followers to dance the sa-ut, for he says that the battle will be awkward without it.

The war dance is just a warm-up to the fighting that ensues in the lawn. Both young and old warriors participate in the battle. The enemies flee, but they are chased up to the underbushes of the mountains, where they are decimated. The king of the invaders tells his aide to save his men. The aide plants his shield, which becomes a cliff in the middle of the lawn to shelter their warriors, although he claims it is for the people who are scared of the fighting. Either Dayuen, Agyu's cousin, or Delemenen, his son, knocks the shield away. Delemenen spears the king's aide. Losing his aide, the king arms himself. He commands his anklets and ringlets to ring the place up to the mountains and hills, making the place an impenetrable jungle. The king also commands his shield and buckler to grow taller and wider until they are fastened to the gilded beams of the palace, becoming a blocking cliff. The king taunts Lena to bypass the obstacle. Lena does not take the challenge right away, but he performs the sa-ut. As he does so, he kicks the obstacles along the seashore. Then Lena moves to the lawn and tests the strength and solidity of the planted shield and buckler of the king, who again taunts him. The shield and the buckler receive greater pressure from Lena, and they confess that they are like ropes snapping, Lena soon turns them into splinters.

Lena fights with the king. The king's spear and javelin are ground to dust. Then, they fight with their daggers and kampilan blades, but Lena turns his opponent's blades to dust. The two wrestle, and, as they are grappling, a smoke arises in their midst, but neither one of them yields. Lena then hurls himself skyward to look for the "sipa" or ball of the sky. With this ball, he encases the king, who, however, frees himself easily. The king shackles Lena's feet. The fetters are attached to a gigantic tree and a balite tree, which is ordered to fasten its trunk to the land of the dead and the gilded beam of the palace. However, Lena frees himself easily. Lena retaliates by hurling the king up into space. But the king returns to the courtyard. Confronting Lena, he uses the hair of a diety to bind him, and although Lena can wriggle, he cannot free himself.

Meanwhile, in another land lives one of Agyu's relatives: Tigyekuwa, Agyu's first wife, and their son Kumugpa. The boy has been crying the whole day long, and to stop him, the mother promises him that they will visit his father Agyu if he ceases to cry. When they arrive at Yendang, they find Lena already bound. Tigyekuwa then approaches Lena and touches the hair that binds him and he is freed. She also identifies Lena's adversary as his true father, who has never visited Nalandangan before. The king's eyes moisten, unable to recognize the multitude of his children, his grandchildren and his great great grandchildren.

The "Ulahingan" is the epic of Livunganen-Arumanen Manobos residing in the Libungan river valley in Cotabato del Norte in Mindanao. It is closely related to the epic of Agyu of the Ilianon, because the two tribes used to form one group.

Learn this Filipino word:

nagpúputók ang butsé