HANDIONG: EPIC OF BICOLANDIA

(Handiong epic is translated from the Spanish version of Fray Jose Castaño)

Translated by Luis G. Dato

YLING (to Kadugnung):


Kadugnung, minstrel wise,
Of Handiong’s time sing on,
With your famed silver lyre
The sweet land of Aslon,

For only you can laud
Its beauty, pristine charm,
The mysteries occult
That in the region swarm.

Sing of its kings of old,
Descent, their valor all,
The wars they waged until
They conquered old Oriol.

Recount on your dear life
The tale of old Asog,
Masaraga so young,
And ancient Isarog.

For tender bard you were,
Seductive most and sweet,
Of those who saw the lake
Where death Takay did meet.

Sing, for attentive all
Your lovely tale are we,
As seated round we list
Beneath this great, shade tree,

KADUGNUNG (Replying to YLING):

Hear, sons of Bikol, then,
Kadugnung swift replied,
The deeds of this old land,
Handiong’s loved countryside.

The Bikol is a land
Of rich, alluvial plain,
The fairest in the world,
And rich in yield of grain.

Baltog was the first man
To dwell on this great plain,
From Botarva he,
Not visible to man.

To Bikol he pursued
A fierce, wild boar in flight,
His linza plants it had
Marauded in one night,

When it he brought to bay
With spear he felled the boar,
With herculean arm
Apart its jawbones tore.

The jawbones measured quite
Or full arm’s length they were,
The fangs two-thirds the length
Of handle of his spear.

Returning to his land,
The jawbones he hung all
On a talisay tree
Near his house in Tondol.

stephentalla dead wild boar hanging jawbones on a talisay tree a101fc90 c159 4c09 a9ce e527c3723486 HANDIONG: EPIC OF BICOLANDIA
Returning to his land, The jawbones he hung all

Old hunters of the tribe
Did marvel at the sight
These glorious trophies brought
By King Baltog of might.

To view them came the tribes,
Of Panicuason and
Asog, in all their days
Had seen not beast so grand.

Tandaya they called it,
From the woods of Lignion,
It had in Behemoth
Its replica alone.

And after this Handiong
With comrades in one hand,
To Bikol came and freed
From monsters all the land.

A thousand fights he waged
Against the monsters fierce,
Victorious over them,
Each one his lance did pierce.

The one-eyed, three mouthed beasts
Inhabiting Ponon,
Without rest in ten months,
Without fail he brought down.

stephentalla a buffalo cimarron 7078a604 08b0 4bd7 bce4 2b79ab6f4632 HANDIONG: EPIC OF BICOLANDIA
The buffalo cimarron

The winged sharks of the sea,
The buffalo cimarron
That past the mountains flew,
He tamed them every one.

Colossal crocodiles
The size of boats, ’twas said,
The fierce sarimaos wild,
To Mt. Colasi fled.

The serpents there who were
Like sirens in their voice,
He buried in Hantik,
Each there forever lies.

But never he subdued
Despite all craft and guile,
The snake sagacious known
By the name of Oriol.

stephentalla a wily serpent who appeared as a beautiful maiden a0439d89 2e11 4eeb b53e 595e95f0e8aa HANDIONG: EPIC OF BICOLANDIA
The snake sagacious known By the name of Oriol.

This snake knew even more
Than famed Handiong could tell,
His eyes did exorcise
And wrought on all a spell.

A thousand knots he tied,
The snake turned far, too smart,
It disentangled all
With great, sagacious art.

With words seductive it
Handiong’s attempts would foil,
For in deceit and skill
No master had Oriol.

stephentalla a wily serpent who appeared as a beautiful maiden 0890579d 422c 461b b367 cc3c7cf4ca77 HANDIONG: EPIC OF BICOLANDIA
For in deceit and skill No master had Oriol.

Many the time in chase
He trailed the woods in vain,
He thought the voice Oriol’s,
He was deceived again!

The tasks of Hercules,
Each conquest, victory
All failures would have been
By dint of witchery.

But insincere itself,
The snake Handiong helped gain
And conquer monsters all
That dwelt the Bikol plain.

They fought the crocodile,
In combat hand to hand,
In the tremendous fray,
Won Handiong and his band.

The apes, orangutans
At him looked on with dread,
The Bikol stream he tinged,
With blood he colored red.

These monkeys quarrelsome
For valor proved and known,
Handiong subdued them all,
To Isarog had flown.

From beasts of prey thus freed,
Did now the Bikol live,
Handiong proceeded then
Laws to his people give.

Handiong and all his peers
Grew linzas by a hill,
Which gave them roots as big
As beams or bigger still.

stephentalla wild taros growing by the hill 54063f07 9753 4217 986e af389aea8063 HANDIONG: EPIC OF BICOLANDIA
Handiong and all his peers Grew linzas by a hill

Then all the lowland plain
Palay fields all became,
Which through long centuries
Gave to Handiong great fame.

Handiong the first boat made
The Bikol coursed along,
Except the rudder, sail,
These were by Ginatong.

The comb Ginatong made,
The roller the turf broke,
The ganta, measures all,
The bolo, hoe and yoke.

The bobbin and the loom
Were fathered by Hablon,
Who all amazed one day
By these gifts to Handiong.

The water jar of clay,
The pot and kiln and bowl
Utensils various too,
Dinahon made them all.

The curious alphabet
Engraved on Libon stone,
Which Surat did continue
Was polished by Gapon.

A city rose and houses
Of various sizes hung
From the big boughs of the
Banasi, Kamagong.

The insects swarmed about,
Hot the rays of the sun,
And shelter they all sought,
In the moog alone.

stephentalla ancient clay tablet with inscription of old alphab bce05ea0 b53d 47e0 a33b 1465a8a45d62 HANDIONG: EPIC OF BICOLANDIA
The curious alphabet Engraved on Libon stone

Just laws Handiong decreed
Life, honor to protect,
Applied to subjects all,
No favors, no elect.

They guarded each his post,
The lord as well the slave,
Respecting all the rights
Which death and birth each gave.

By Opos (tempest) moved
To them a great flood came,
And the face of the earth
Completely changed became.

stephentalla all volcanoes erupting with all might fire stones 6693e80f 6953 410b bcba 4a29b5a766c5 HANDIONG: EPIC OF BICOLANDIA
Kolasi did erupt, Hantik and Isarog

Kolasi did erupt,
Hantik and Isarog,
An awful quake was felt,
The whole world was agog.

So great the tremor was,
The sea left the land dry,
The isthmus Pasacao
Formed as we see it lie.

From the mainland was torn
The isle of Malbogon,
Where sibyls old now dwell,
Named Hilan and Lariong.

And Inarihan swerved,
To eastward wandered on,
Ere cataclysm came,
It emptied on Ponon,

stephentalla a great flood that created a huge lake 71183646 1282 44dd 8682 20586a9752c2 HANDIONG: EPIC OF BICOLANDIA
A lake that teems with fish Now in its place is found.

In Bato a big mount
Submerged beneath the ground,
A lake that teems with fish
Now in its place is found.

From Calabanga gulf
Vanished the Dagatnon,
Whence the Dumagats came
Who then lived in Catmon.

The kingdom powerful
Was, in times of Bantong
The bosom comrade of
Embattled, great Handiong.

Handiong with thousand men
Sent him Rabot to kill
Who was half-man, half-beast,
And yet a wizard still.

stephentalla A half human half monster beast on an eerie foggy f3e49281 f1db 43e4 85c2 15d67155fbfa HANDIONG: EPIC OF BICOLANDIA
Who was half-man, half-beast, And yet a wizard still.

For those who landed there
Ere came ashore Bantong,
Rabot enchantment wove,
And turned them all to stone.

Bantong knew all too well
Rabot slept, it was said,
Most of the time of day
With no precaution made.

With his men came Bantong
When there was flood one day,
And ere Rabot could wake
He is sundered body lay.

They gave stentorian shout,
Bantong and all his throng,
The mangroves heard them all,
The banga, Kamagong.

They to Libmanan brought
The corpse for great Handiong
To see, and at the sight
He was so shocked and long.

For never man had been
Of such atrocious guise,
Such figure horrible,
Or such horrendous voice.

And here Kadungnung stopped
The first part of his lay,
On some occasion next
To end some other day.

UNC Museum, March 10-11, 1965

Translator’s Note: Mr. Ignacio Meliton, UNC Museum Curator, has one of the few copies extant of the Castaño translation, which is kept as one of the prize items. Mr. Meliton has made two translations, one in prose and the other in poetry, of the fragmentary in Castaño version. However, the translation is only a fragment (the first part of probably a long epic), the Bikol original of which is apparently lost. However, some libraries or private collections in Europe, especially Spain and Germany (formerly a part of the Spanish dominions of Charles V), might have copies both of the complete Bikol original as well as the complete Spanish translation of Father Castaño.

stephentalla ancient prosperous land with laws and decrees 0202ab71 0704 4522 9892 4cb48e7a8980 HANDIONG: EPIC OF BICOLANDIA
Then all the lowland plain Palay fields all became, Which through long centuries Gave to Handiong great fame.
Luis Dato
Luis Dato

Luis G. Dato (July 4, 1906 - January 29, 1985) was a poet, writer and educator from Sta. Cruz, Baao, Camarines Sur. He published books in English including Manila A Collection of verse (1926), My Book of Verses (1936) and the Land of Mai in 1975. He also wrote several books and text in Bikol such as, Vocabulario Bikol-Ingles-Kastila (1963), Cantahon na Bikol (1969), Morfologia kan Tataramon na Bikol (serialized in Naga Times), Patotodon sa Bikol (Bikol Mail) and Sarabihon sa Bikol.

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