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Saturday, June 25, 2016


An epic is a very long poem that tells the story of heroism and adventure written or orally said in a creative artful style.

Andres Cristobal Cruz discussed the "Ang Epikong Labaw Donggon ng Lambunao, Iloilo," in his column in Liwayway Filipiniana or Liwayway Magazine.

In 1955, when he was still a student of Central Philippine University in Iloilo City, Felipe Landa Jocano, an anthropologist who conducted a lot of research about native epics and folktales, proverbs, and riddles in the Philippines have heard about an epic. This is the Labaw Donggon of Lambunao, a municipality or town in the hinterlands or mountains of Iloilo.

According to Jocano, the Catholicism in Lambunao was not able to make a drastic change in the customs, traditions and beliefs of the people of Lambunao most especially their morality that can be found in Labaw Donggon (Honored Most High in English). A good social relationship is one of the finest values of the people in Lambunao just like stated in their proverbs: "Doesn't matter if the dish is only kangkong leaves, if we stay together beautifully in good terms." The social relationship or being congenial is in one kind of bayanihan - their "dagyaw". It is voluntarily work or help to a neighbor or neighborhood in the village. It can be compared to the "suyo" in the farm of the Bulakenyo, just like the story of Macario Pineda, "Suyuan sa Tubigan." The dagyaw is, thus, a personality of the bayanihan or united helping hands that is feature in the New Society because it is included and an ingredient of the barangay system. Another kind of cooperation or collaboration, however to earn, according to Jocano, is where of the Lambunao people called pakyaw. The dagyaw is based in huya (self-respect), at sa kabaraslan (obligation or utang na loob). These values is in the epic Labaw Dunggon.

Just like other Filipinos in places where the culture has not yet been stained or influenced by the western values, customs and traditions, the people of Lambunao are skilled in storytelling. The most popular is the Labaw Dunggon according to Jocano.

The Labaw Donggon, the name of the hero, is sung to the tune of pasyon reading. The Labaw Donggon was heard by Jocano from someone named Ulang Udig who was more than 50 years old then in 1956. However unlike the pasyon every Holy Week, the singing of Labaw Donggon, according to the descriptions of Jocano, is artistic, and the incidents, feelings or emotions and actions are being emphasized or given importance in singing.

Labaw Donggon is one of the three children of Diwata Abyang Alunsina and Buyung Paubari. Just right after his childbirth, Labaw Donggon immediately grew up, became strong and already learned how to speak. She bids her mother farewell to look for Anggoy Ginbitinan, and he was given a powerful clothes. Riding in the wind, Labaw reached Handog and he immediately gained the approval of Anggoy Ginbitinan. Not long after his marriage to Ginbitinan, Labaw left again to woo Anggoy Doronoon. She also became a wife of Labaw. When he heard of a beautiful lady, Nagmalitong Yawa Sinagmaling Diwata, Labaw left again. However, Nagmalitong Yawa has a husband and he is Buyong Saragnayan.

Buyong Saragnayan doesn't want to give up and give away Nagmalitong Yawa so the two went fighting. Labaw submerged or soaked his enemy in the water. Buyong Saragnayan stayed underwater for seven years yet remained alive. Labaw beat or whacked Buyong with trees however it only became shredded strings and Buyong is still alive. Labaw became tired and exhausted and he was defeated by Buyong. Buyong tied Labaw like a pig under his house.

Meanwhile, Anggoy Doronoon gave birth to Baranugan and the child bade farewell to his mother to look for his father. Anggoy Ginbitinan also gave birth to Asu Mangga and he too bade farewell to look for his father. The two brothers met and they went together to liberate their father. Baranugan challenged Saragnayan. Baranugan is about to beat Saragnayan when he wished to see his wife Nagmalitong Yawa first. The two fought again and when he learned that he will never beat the son of Labaw, Saragnayan asked for help from the evil creatures and a troop came. The siblings Baranugan and Asu Mangga helped each other in the battle and they won and once more, Baranugan and Saragnayan fought again. However Saragnayan could not be killed so Baranugan seek the help of her grandmother, Abyang Alunsina. To kill Saragnayan, the brothers should kill a wild boar. The brothers found a wild boar and killed it. After that, suddenly there's a tremor or earthquake and there's a darkness around when the brothers killed Saragnayan.

The siblings continued to search for their father, however it was gone under the house of Saragnayan. Humadapnon and Dumalapdap, siblings of Labaw Donggon, helped in the search. They found Labaw insane or mentally ill. The two wives of Labaw cured their crazy husband. Labaw recovered and got cured and he confessed that Nagmalitong Yawa has two more siblings who are very beautiful. The two siblings left to look for the beautiful siblings of Nagmalitong Yawa.

That was the end of the epic Labaw Donggon which was summarized in the writings of Jocano based from his tape recordings of the narrative singing of Ulang Udig.

The Labaw Donggon in the reckoning or assumption of Jocano was included in Hinilawod, another epic. If compared to the epic Biag ni Lam-ang of the Ilocos region, it can be noticed in its resemblance of strength, bravery or courage and the power of the children. It also commemorates the ritual of the search for the father and in this kind of epic, it can be said that the native or tribal customs and traditions or beliefs emerges that a crime is bad and it results to death or punishment which was also featured or expressed by Labaw Donggon. To love and not having self-control in his desire for the wife of others became the undoing for Labaw Donggon.

The love of the children to their parents is also shown through the search of the siblings for Labaw. The epic also showed the responsibilities of the wife to the wronged husband or insane husband - to help and nurse it back to his normal self with the right and sound mind.

According to the analysis and studies of Jocano to the epic and the life in Lambunao is that it is difficult to separate the human life to the life of the supernatural beings. In its further deep meaning,  it can be said that the life of a human has two parts - the earthly and the heavenly. In the strong relationship and understanding of both is a life of wisdom, progressive and peaceful.

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