Biag ni Lam-ang

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Biag ni Lam-ang
An illustration depicting the protagonist Lam-ang
Title Lam-ang
Description Eponymous hero of the Ilokano epic Biag ni Lam-ang
Gender Male
Region Philippines
Equivalent Culture hero

Biag ni Lam-ang (English: "The Life of Lam-ang") is an epic poem of the Ilocano people from the Ilocos region of the Philippines. Recited and written in the original Ilocano, the poem is believed[by whom?] to be a composite work of various poets who passed it on through the generations, and was first transcribed around 1640 by a blind Ilocano poet named Pedro Bucaneg.

According to Indologists Juan R. Francisco and Josephine Acosta Pasricha, the nature of Hindu influences and folklore arrived in Philippines by about 9th to 10th century AD.[1] The Biag ni Lam-Ang is the version of the Ilocanos derived from the Indian Hindu epic Ramayana. [2][3]

Initial plot

Lam-ang is an extraordinary being, manifesting when he begins to speak in his early years, thus enabling him to choose his own name. His adventures begin when his father, Don Juan, set out for a battle but never returned. At barely nine months, Lam-ang goes to search for Don Juan in the highlands where the latter was said to have gone. Aware that her child was a blessed, exceptional creature, his mother Namongan allows him to go. Lam-ang then goes off in search of his father, leaving his grieving mother behind.

He sees his father beheaded and the head put on a spike. While the headhunters are celebrating, in his anger, he challenges all of them to a duel. The headhunters throw spears at him, but he just catches it and throws it back to them. He defeats the headhunters, kills them all and takes his father's head down to the plains...

Literary structure

  • Prologue: The Birth of Lam-ang (lines 5-108)
  • Quest for Father (lines 109-370)
    • Preparation (lines 109-192)
    • Obstacle: Burican (lines 193-261)
    • Triumph (lines 262-315)
    • Return to Home (lines 315-370)
  • Quest for Wife (lines 455-1300)
    • Preparation (lines 455-586)
    • Obstacles: Sumarang and Saridandan (lines 587-724)
    • Wedding Banquet (lines 725-1286)
    • Return to Home (lines 725-1286)
  • Epilogue: The Death and Restoration of the Hero (lines 1301-1477)[4]

Biag ni Lam-ang, though dominated by action and tragedy, nonetheless contained some comedic points. An example is the scene in which Lam-ang was on his way home. He passes by a river (identified by some[who?] as the Amburayan River, the biggest river in Ilocos) and decides to have a dip. The dirt and blood that came off from his body causes the death of the river's fish, crabs, and shrimp. As he is bathing, some of the maidens who were present at the river gladly attend to him.


Upon arriving home, Lam-ang decides to court his love interest, Ines Kannoyan who lives in Calanutian (Kanluit). [5] Despite his mother’s disapproval, he follows his heart and set off again on another journey to his love. He faces one of Ines’ suitors and various monsters, but again is able to vanquish them with ease. Aiding him are his magical pets, a cat (in other versions,no cat),a dog, and a rooster. The bird flaps its wings and a house toppled over. This feat amazes everyone present, especially Ines. Then, Lam-ang’s dog barks and the house rose up. Invited to lunch with the family of Ines, Lam-ang impresses her parents with his wealth and upon returning, he gives the family two golden ships.

Death and subsequent rebirth

After his death due to being eaten by a huge fish, Lam-ang's bones are recovered and he is resurrected with the help of his magical pets. Ines is ordered by the rooster to wrap the bones with her tapis while the hen flapped its wings and the dog growled. In an instant, Lam-ang is happily reunited with his wife.

Film adaptation

In 2012, a film adaptation of the story of Lam-ang was made. Called "Lam-Ang", the film starred actors Rocco Nacino and Rochelle Pangilinan. It was originally intended to be a TV series, but it was later decided to turn it into a film adaptation by Gabriel Lorenzo Quizon instead.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ Mellie Leandicho Lopez (2008), A Handbook of Philippine Folklore, University of Hawaii Press, ISBN 978-9715425148, pp xxiv - xxv
  2. ^ Manuel, E. Arsenio (1963), A Survey of Philippine Folk Epics, Asian Folklore Studies, 22, pp 1-76
  3. ^ Halilli, Maria Christine (2004), Philippines History, pp. 46
  4. ^ Flores, Randolf C. (2007). "Literary Unity and Structure of the Ilocano Epic, Biag ni Lam-ang". Diwa: Studies in Philosophy and Theology. 32: 25–38. 
  5. ^ Yabes, Leopoldo Y. (May 1931). "The Heroine of the Ilocano Epic, "The Life of Lam-ang"". Philippine magazine. Manila: Philippine Education Co. 31 (1). Retrieved 2015-08-17. 

External links

  • Summary in Tagalog
  • Summary in English
  • Bilingual (Tagalog-English) version
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