Philippine Literature And Arts “Ibong Adarna”
Ibong Adarna is a 16th-century Filipino epic poem about an eponymous magical bird. The title’s longer form during the Spanish Era was “korido at Buhay na Pinagdaanan n͠g Tatlong Principeng Magcacapatid na anac n͠g Haring Fernando at n͠g Reina Valeriana sa Cahariang Berbania” (English for “Corrido and Life Lived by the Three Princes, children of King Fernando and Queen Valeriana in the Kingdom of Berbania”).
The story revolved around the life of King Fernando, Queen Valeriana and their three sons, Princes Pedro, Diego and Juan. The three princes are vying for the throne and kingship, and were trained for sword fight and combat. The most courageous will inherit the throne.
The story is commonly attributed to the Tagalog poet José de la Cruz or “Huseng Sisiw”, but until now its exact authorship is disputed. Another legend claims that the story was written in Spain during the mid-16th century by Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, and brought to the Philippines in 1565.
The poem forms part of the curriculum for Junior High School Students as well as those in Grade 7 in the Philippines.
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King Fernando and his wife Queen Valeriana rules the Kingdom of Berbania. They have 3 sons: Don Pedro, Don Diego and Don Juan. One night, King Fernando dreamed of Don Juan being murdered by two traitors and he became frightened and depressed that he did not even want to eat or rest. He became ill, which none of the people were able to cure. An old doctor however advised that the Ibong Adarna (a mythical bird) was the only creature which could restore his health by its marvelous songs. He first sent out Don Pedro to look for the Ibong Adarna. After three months of wandering through the forests and thickets, he came to a gold tree, known as Piedras Platas, at the foot of the tree which he fell down tired and thirsty. What he does not know is that the gold tree is where the Ibong Adarna was accustomed to pass the night. By nightfall, Pedro fell asleep and then the bird flew into the air and sang the first of its seven songs; its melody was so softly sweet that anyone was lulled into a profound sleep. After emitting its seventh song for the night, the bird excreted dropping on the sleeping prince who became stone.
King Fernando then asked his second son Don Diego also to send out in search of the bird. Don Diego underwent the same hardships (but ventured for five months, two more than Don Pedro) and came to exactly the same fate as his older brother. After three whole years without hearing any news, at last Don Juan, the youngest and most favored son was (unwillingly by King Fernando) sent forth, in search of the bird. Don Juan however, had fortune to meet on his way an old hermit who was impressed by the virtues and good manners of the young prince and knowing the mission on which he embarked, put him on guard against the treacheries of the bird.
The hermit tells of the gold tree where the famed bird stays every night after singing seven songs, warning of the spells in its seven songs which lulls the hearer to sleep and the excretion which petrifies anyone. He provides Don Juan with a knife and lemons, both of which Juan must use to cut seven wounds on his hands and distill into them the juice of the fruits to create the pain that will prevent him from being lulled by the seven songs. The hermit then gives Juan a golden rope which the prince must use to bind the bird’s legs while it is asleep and take it inside a cage. Before Juan leaves, the hermit provides him with a bucket which he must use to scoop water from a well near the tree and pour over his two petrified brothers to restore them. Don Juan did as was bidden and soon found himself in possession of the desired bird and on his way back to his home country with his two brothers, Don Pedro and Don Diego. Don Juan ventured for four months.
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On the way, however, being envious that Don Juan had obtained what they were not able to do, the two older brothers conspired between themselves to do away with him. Don Pedro suggested that they should kill him but Don Diego, who was less brutal, convinced Pedro that it was sufficient to beat him, which they did. After beating Don Juan to whom they owed their lives, they left him unconscious in the middle of the road as the two brothers continued on their way to the palace. Once there in the palace, they convinced the king that they never knew what happened to Don Juan, but the bird was disheveled and did not sing for it awaits Don Juan, the true captor of this bird. Don Juan woke eventually, but could not move due to the pain caused by the beating. He prayed fervently for the health of the king and the forgiveness of God to his brothers. The same hermit who gave him advice before catching the bird arrives and heals him magically. Upon return to the palace, everyone was happy except his two brothers, worried that Don Juan might tell on them to the king. The bird then started to sing. Its enchanted song revealed to the king that Don Pedro and Don Diego beat up Don Juan and that he was the true captor of this bird.
The two were sentenced to being cut off from the royalty and banished, but they were reprieved due to Don Juan being forgiving and asking to give them another chance. They were given one, however, any consequent fault would mean death. They enjoyed the bird, they did not treat it as a pet, but rather like a person. So they made the three princes watch over the bird for 3 hours each every day. Don Pedro wanted revenge, so he conspired again and forced Don Diego to go on board with it yet again. They planned to trick Don Juan into thinking that under his watch, the bird escaped. They successfully did it and Don Juan set out to find the bird before the king wakes up. The king finds the bird missing and so is Don Juan, so he asked the two to find the bird and their brother.
They find Don Juan at Mt. Armenia, where they decide that they just live there, on the beautiful mountain. They lived happily there and forgot the trouble from the past. They find a well and decide to explore the inside, arguing about who goes first. They settle for the idea that Pedro, the eldest, was the first to descend by means of a cord lowered by the two brothers who remained above; but he had scarcely gone a third of the way when he felt afraid and gave the sign for his two brothers to pull him out of the well. Presently, Diego was let down but he too could not go farther down than half of the way. When it was Juan’s turn to go he allowed himself to be let down to the lowest depths of the cistern. There the prince discovered two enchanted palaces, the first being occupied by Princess Juana who informed him she was being held prisoner by a giant, and the second by Princess Leonora, also the prisoner of a large seven-headed serpent. After killing the giant and the serpent, the prince tugged on the cord and soon came up to the surface of the earth with the two captive princesses, whom his two brothers soon wanted to take away from him. Diego desired Princess Juana for himself and Pedro wanted Princess Leonora. Before the parting, however, Leonora discovered that she left her ring in the innermost recesses of the well. Juan voluntarily offered to take it for her but when he was halfway down, the two brothers cut the rope he was descending causing him to fall to the bottom of the well. Not long after this, wedding bells were rung in the palace. Diego married Princess Juana but Princess Leonora before casting her lot with Prince Pedro requested her marriage to him delayed for a term of seven years because she might still have a chance to unite herself with Don Juan.
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Don Juan, thanks to Leonora’s enchanted ring found in the well, could avail himself of the help of a wolf which cured him of his wounds, fix his dislocations, and bring him to the medicinal waters of the Jordan, and took him out of the well Already torn between all hope of ever finding the Adarna, Don Juan resolved to return to the Kingdom. But to his confusion, he was unable to find his way. No one could tell him precisely which was the way that would lead him to the kingdom of his father. While sleeping under a tree, the Adarna awakens him and convinces him to turn his back on Leonora because Maria Blanca, the daughter of King Salermo in Reino de los Cristales was better. He came to a hermit that consulted all of the animals from the surrounding areas, but none of them could tell the prince the direction towards Reyno de los Cristales. But the king of all these animals, a swiftly soaring eagle (real name Olicornio), having compassion for his troubles, offered to take the prince to wherever he desired. After an epic flight, the prince and the eagle came to a distant crystal lake on whose shores they landed to rest from their long and tiresome flight. Then the eagle related to his companion the secrets of the crystal lake. This was the bathing place where, in certain hours of the day, the three daughters of the most powerful and most feared king of the surrounding regions used to dive into the water and swim; and for this reason it was not proper for the prince to commit any indiscretion if he desired to remain and see the spectacle of the bath. Don Juan remained and when the hour of the bathing arrived he saw plunging into the pure crystal water the figures of the three most beautiful princesses whom his sinful eyes had ever seen. He then secretly hid and kept one of the princesses dresses. When the princess noticed the theft, her two sisters had already gone. The prince hurriedly ran to her and on his knee begged her pardon and placed at her feet her stolen dress and at the same time poured forth the most ardent and tender professions of love. Pleased by his gentleness and gallant phrases, the princess also fell in love with him; but she advised him that it would be better for him to go away before her father would come to know of his intrusion. If he did not do so he would be converted into another piece of stone for the walls of the enchanted palace in which they live, in the same way, that all the other suitors who aspired for their hands had been transformed. On being informed of the adventure of the bold prince, the king sent for him. Don Juan, who would risk everything for the privilege of seeing his beloved, presented himself to the king in spite of the princess’ warning. The king, greatly impressed with the youth’s tact and self-possession, chose to give him a series of tests both gigantic and impossible for ordinary mortals. After completing these trials the king was satisfied and offered Don Juan his daughter.
However, the princess, fearing that her father might resort to a new trick to foil their happiness, ordered the prince to direct himself to the royal stables in order to take the best horse and have him ready for them to flee on that same night. Unfortunately, the prince in his hurry took the wrong horse and the king came immediately went in pursuit of the fugitives. The king, riding the best horse, pursued them tenaciously but through the use of cunning magic, the princess helped them to outrace the king.
When at last they found themselves safe and free, it did not take them long before they could reach the portals of the Berbanian Kingdom. But the prince, alleging that he should have such preparations duly made for entry into the royal palace as are appropriate for her category and dignity, left Doña Maria on the way promising to return for her once he had informed the committee that was to receive her. Once in the midst of the happiness of palace life, Don Juan soon forgot his professions of love to Doña Maria. He became dazzled by the beauty of Princess Leonora who had been waiting for him during all the days of his absence and he sought her hand in marriage while Doña Maria was impatiently waiting for his return. When she came to know of the infidelity of Don Juan, the pilgrim princess made use of the talisman which she always carried with her and adorned with the most beautiful royal garments and carried in a large coach drawn by eight sorrel-colored horses with four palfreys, she presented herself at the door of the palace practically inviting herself to the royal wedding of Prince Juan and Princess Leonora.
Out of respect for so beautiful a guest from foreign lands and on the occasion of the wedding itself, there were celebrated tournaments, in one Doña Maria succeeded in inserting as one of the number dance of a negrito and a negrito created from nothing through her marvelous talisman. In the dance the negrito carried a whip in her hand and with it she pitilessly lashed her negrito partner, calling him Don Juan while she proceeded to remind of all the vicissitudes of fortune undergone by him at the side on Doña Maria, the part which was played by the whipping negrito: the scene of the bath, the different tests to which he had been subjected by her father, the flight of both that was full of accidents, and his cruel abandonment of her on the way. Every crack of the whip which fell on the shoulders of the negrito seemed at the time to the true Don Juan as if it was lashing.
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After all this, Don Juan finally remembered Doña Maria. He then gave Princess Leonora and the kingdom of Berbania to Prince Pedro while he and Doña Maria returned to Reyno de los Cristales. When they came back, they found the kingdom in a mourning state, following the deaths of Doña Maria’s father and sisters. The kingdom rejoiced when they came back and crowned them the king and queen of the kingdom.