Handiong: Bikol’s Epic Hero They have Ulysses, there is Hercules. And, there is the legendary Bernardo Carpio. The Bikolanos have Handiong, hero of epic Ibalon. Ibalon is not just a hero? s legend. It is the story of the Bikolano people, a race founded by legendary ancestor Baltog, born in mythical Botavara of a race called Lipod, in a region where legendary monster and wild creatures roamed. Handiong, a wise and intrepid warrior, became leader of the tribe.
He was largely responsible for bringing tranquility to the Ibalon by wiping out most of the monster that plagued the land ? crocodiles as large as boats, winged sharks, brute boars, huge apes and giant snakes of all ilk and kind. He failed to conquer, however, wily Oriol, a serpent-woman whose siren? s voice could mesmerize people and who was so crafty she could escape from “a thousand bounds”. But Oriol was eventually attracted to Handiong, for whom her serpent nature vanished.
This paved the way to her helping Handiong vanquish many other monster and wild animals in battles so ferocious and gory that the waters of the Bikol river ran red, but which Handiong all won unscathed. ;;;;; ;;;;;;In the ensuing peace the Ibalon thrived and flourished. Handiong taught people to plant root crops and rice, a sturdy and rich-yielding variety that will be known for many centuries as Hinandyongan. He is also credited with building the first boat, to which a fellow tribesman appended the sail and the rudder.
He invented various farming tools and implements the plow, the bolo, the hoe and the harrow. Under Handiong? s realm another young hero also emerge- Bantong, leader of the thousand-man expedition sent to slay fearsome Rabot, a half-man half-brute warlock with powers to turn men to stones, who still terrorized the countryside. Young Bantong succeeded and brought his victim to Libmanan before Handiong. Rabot, even dead, looked so horrid even the battle-scarred Handiong was speechless in awe for some time.
Ibalon is written in verse in several Spanish versions by missionaries in the early 1800? s, gleaned from songs and stories of wandering minstrel. Several English translations have also been written, notably that by Bikolano poet laureate Luis G Dato of Baao, Camariens Sur. The epic relates a mixture of his torically authenticated places and events like foods, earthquakes, eruptions, invasions of tribe from other regions and lore that is quaintly fantastic but profoundly reflective of the Bikolano Culture.