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 Ilokano people from the Ilocos region of the Philippines. Recited and written in the original Iloko, 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 Ilokano bard named Pedro Bucaneg.

Initial plot[edit]

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.

When Lam-ang arrives at the place where Don Juan had disappeared, he is enraged to see his father’s severed head atop a bamboo pole; a scene he dreamt beforehand. Lam-ang demands to the local people why that had happened to his father, but does not receive an answer. Instead, the chieftain of the village tells him to leave under pain of suffering the same fate as his father. Lam-ang defies the caveat and bravely fights the chieftain and his tribesmen. The hero emerges victorious from the battle with little effort, avenging his murdered father.

Literary structure[edit]

  • 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)[1]

Comedic elements[edit]

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). 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, 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. Their nuptials are celebrated with a lot of feasting.

Death and subsequent rebirth[edit]

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.

Summary of the story of Lam-ang[edit]

Centuries ago, there was a great warrior who was widely known in Ilocos as a hero who fought the Igorots. When Lam-ang was born, he had the most unusual ability to speak immediately at birth. He asks where his father,Don Juan, was, and, upon being told that his father was killed by Igorots, Lam-ang vows revenge; a vendetta is born.

Lam-ang grows up immediately, and goes up into the mountains to take his vengeance.He spotted the headhunters dancing around his father's decapitated head impaled on the spike.Enraged and alone, he single-handedly and barehanded fights off dozens of Igorot warriors,firstly collecting first the spears the headhunters hurled towards him and bundled it,knocking, defeating and killing them all. He cuts off the ears of the warriors, as trophies, and returns to Ilocos. He bathed in Amburayan River (now serves as boundary between La Union and Ilocos Sur),with the help of several local lasses.The river became toxic due to the bloodstains all over his body,killing all fishes in the area.He then meets and is captivated by a beautiful woman named Ines Kannoyan, and he immediately falls in love. He pledges to her all of his gold, land, and livestock (and some versions,his clan's ships made of pure gold).

As the most beautiful woman in the province, Ines has many suitors, but all quietly gave way to Lam-ang,(or in some versions,Lam-ang killed them all by using the magic dog to howl on the hut (or in the toilet) where all Ines' suitors are and used his rooster to rise it again), since they knew that they could not compete with him for her affections. All, except for a giant of a man named Sumarang, who would not yield. Lam-ang and Sumarang fight and Lam-ang wins, easily defeating Sumarang,who was knocked back to 7 mountains.

After giving dowries of gold,land and the golden ships,Lam-ang and Ines are married in the largest wedding feast that ever been seen in the province,because Lam-ang's relatives from far away arrived riding their clan's golden ships. In order to secure the union’s blessing, Lam-ang is told that he must dive down to the very depths of the sea and retrieve a pearl from a magical oyster, otherwise the marriage would have bad luck.The visions are:the stairs of their hut will dance,the cooking pots will be broken and so on. (Other versions say that Lam-ang went to catch a rare fish called rarang.) Lam-ang dives into the sea and on his way down, is eaten by a fearsome fish called the Berkakan.

Heartbroken, Ines goes into mourning, as did most of the town, as Lam-ang was their hero. The next day, Lam-ang’s rooster, who had magical powers (Lam-ang also owned a magic dog and cat,or in some versions,only a magical dog and a rooster), spoke to Ines, and told her to have Lam-ang’s bones fished out of the sea. Ines did as she was instructed, bringing Lam-ang’s retrieved bones before the rooster, who then blew on them.Lam-ang was revived and Ines became overjoyed when she saw her husband rose from the dead.

Film adaptation[edit]

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[edit]


  1. ^ 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. 

External links[edit]