The epic with Iling requesting the bard kadungung to recount the tale of the glorious Ibálong of long ago. Forthwith, Kadungung described the ancient land and spoke of its first hero, Baltog, a White Aryan, who had come from Botavara (Bharata-varsha or India). He planted a linsa patch in Tondol (now in Kamalig) which, one night, was foraged by a giant wild board (Tandayag). The furios Baltog chased the Tandayag, killed it with his bare hands, and hanged its enormous jawbones on a talisay tree. For this marvelous feat, he was acknowledged chief of the local shaggy hunters.
Next to come was Handyong. With his followers, he fought the monsters of the land. But Oryol, a wily serpent who appeared as a beautiful maiden with a seductive voice, Handyong could not destroy. In the end, Oryol helped Handyong clear the region of ferocious beasts.
With Ibálong rid of wild creatures, Handyong turned to making wise laws and planting the land to linsa and rise. A period of invention followed: boat, farm tools, weaving looms, claywares, even a syllabary. Together, the people built tree houses.
Then came a great flood that changed the features of the land. Three volcanoes erupted simultaneously. A strip of seacoast rose from the sea bottom in Pasakaw. The Malbogong Islet formed in the Bikol River. The Inarihan River altered its course. A lofty mountain sank at Bato, forming a lake. A Dagatnong settlement was wiped out along Kalabangan Gulf.
Despite the calamities, Ibálong grew powerful under Old Chief Handyong,whose constant companion, by then, was the young Bantong. Although given a thousand men to destroy the half man and half beast Rabot who could change its enemies into rocks, Bantong slew it single-handedly – to the loud cheers of his thousand warriors that reverberated throughtout the forests and mangroves swamps. Brought to Ligmanan, the corpse of Rabot was horrible to behold. The Great Handyong himself was shocked at the sight.
At this point, the Ibálong epic-fragment ends abruptly, even as Kadungung promises to continue the story some other time.
From: Ibálong, the Bikol Folk
By: MERITO B. ESPINAS, Ph.D.