1. The Origin of Rice (Bohol)
There was a time, many, many years ago, when rice was not known to our people. At that time
our ancestors lived on fruits, vegetables, birds, and wild animals which they caught while
hunting in the mountains or the forests. Tilling the soil was still unknown. And poultry and hog
was not yet a part of their way of living.Because our people depended on the food which nature
provided and not what they themselves grew or raised, their stay in one place was only
temporary. When there was nothing more to be hunted or gathered in a certain place, they
would go to another region where there was plenty of food. Thus, they traveled from one place
to another.But our ancestors were proud, thankful and happy. They were proud of the things
they had- their brown skin, the race to which they belonged, and the customs and traditions
which they practiced. They were thankful to
Bathala, their god. And they were happy in the manner of living which they led.On a typical day,
the men could be seen going to the mountains or forests to hunt, while the women and small
children could be seen busily engaged in such useful tasks as fishing and gathering of fruits and
vegetables. After a day’s work, all wild animals that had been killed in the hunt and all fruits and
vegetables that had been gathered, would be divided equally among all the group of families
which made up the
One day, a group of hunters went out to hunt deer. In their desire to have a good catch, they
traveled far and wide until they reached the Cordillera Mountains. Having traveled so far, and
feeling dead tired, they decided to take a rest under a big tree. It was nearing noon and all of
them were hungry. While resting in the shade of the tree, they saw, not far from where they
were, a group of men and women whose features were quite different from those of ordinary
mortals. The hunters realized that they were gods and goddesses who lived in that part of the
mountain. All at once the hunters stood up and gave the deities due respect. The gods were
glad of this gesture. In return, they invited the hunters to join them in their banquet.The hunters
helped in the preparation of the food. They butchered the deer and wild boar and then placed
them one after another over the live coals.In a short while, a servant of the gods got some
bamboos and placed them over the fire. The bamboos contained small, white kernels shaped
like beads. Soon after, the cooked kernels were placed in saucer-shaped banana leaves. The
table laden with roasted meat, cooked vegetables, and fresh fruits. Other bamboos were
brought in and these contained what looked like pure water. The hunters soon learned that the
crystal-like substance was not water but rather, the wine of the gods.At first, the hunters were
reluctant in joining the feasts after seeing the small, white kernels.
“We do not eat worms,” the chief hunter said.
The gods smiled. “These white bead-shaped kernels are not worms,” replied one of the
gods.“They are cooked rice. They come from a certain kind of plant which we ourselves grow.
Come and feast
with us. After we have eaten, kill us if you find anything wrong from eating rice.”
2. The First Monkey
Many years ago at the foot of a forest-covered hill was a small town, and just above
the town on the hillside was a little house in which lived an old woman and her
The old woman, who was very industrious, earned their living by removing the seeds
from cotton and a long stick that she used for a spindle. The boy was lazy and would
not do anything to help his grandmother, but every day went down to the town and
Oone day, when he had been losing money, the boy went home and was cross
because his supper was not ready.
"I am hurrying to get the seeds out of this cotton," said the grandmother, "and as soon
as I sell it, I will buy us some food."
At this the boy fell into a rage, and he picked up some coconut shells and threw them
at his grandmother. Then she became angry and began to whip him with her spindle,
when suddenly he was changed into an ugly animal, and the cotton became hair which
covered his body, while the stick itself became his tail.
As soon as the boy found that he had become an ugly creature he ran down into the
town and began whipping his companions, the gamblers, with his tail, and
immediately they were turned into animals like himself.
Then the people would no longer have them in the town, but drove them out. They
went to the forest where they lived in the trees, and ever since they have been known
3. Ibalon (Three Heroes of the Bicol Epic)
When the hero Baltog came to the rich land of Ibalon, many monsters still roamed around in its
very dark forest. Baltog, born in Baltavara to the brave clan of Lipod, was the first to cultivate the
fields in the rich land of Ibalon.
2 Then the Tandayag attacked and destroyed Baltog‘s fields and crops. The Tandayag was a
monstrous wild boar but the hero Baltog was not afraid. One night, he waited for the Tandayag
and wrestled with it with all his might. The Tandayag had very long fangs. The earth shook at
the Tandayag‘s step. But Baltog was strong and brave. He was able to pin down the monstrous
wild boar and tear out its mouth.
3 Baltog carried the Tandayag and hung it on a talisay tree in front of his house in Tondol. The
people celebrated when they learned of the victory of their king Baltog. The clans of Panicuason
and Asog came over to marvel at the monstrous wild boar in Ibalon.
4 At that time the hero Handiong came with a band of warriors to the land of Ibalon. Handiong
and his men had to fight thousands of battles, and face many dangers to defeat the monsters.
They first fought the one-eyed giants in the land of Ponon. They fought without rest for ten
months until all the one-eyed giants were killed.
5 They went to the lair of the giant flying fishes called Tiburon which had slimy, scaly, and hardy
flesh and sawlike teeth that could crush rocks. Handiong and his men did not stop until they
vanquished every Tiburon.
6 They tamed the fierce tamaraws. They drove away the giant Sarimaw which was larger than
an elephant and very fierce. They used their spears and arrows to kill all the crocodiles which
were bigger than boats. The savage monkeys were frightened and hid when they
saw the rivers and swamps of Ibalon turn red with blood.
7 Oriol was the hardest to kill. A serpent with a beautiful voice, Oriol could change its image to
deceive enemies. Oriol had escaped every trap and disappeared.
8 All by himself, Handiong looked for Oriol in the heart of the forest. He followed the beautiful
voice and was almost enchanted by it in his pursuit. It is said that Oriol admired Handiong‘s
bravery and gallantry. Thus, the serpent taught the hero how to conquer the monsters until
peace came to the whole Ibalon.
9 Handiong built a town in Isarog and a season of progress followed. Under Handiong‘s
leadership, the people planted rice which they named after him. He built the first boat to ride the
waves of Ibalon seas. Because of his good example, inventors came forth from his people.
Ginantong made the plow, harrow, and other farming tools. Hablom invented the first loom for
weaving abaca clothes. Dinahon, an Aeta, created the stove, cooking pot, earthen jar, and other
kitchen utensils. The brilliant Sural thought of the alphabet and started to write on white rock. It
4. was a golden period in Ibalon when even slaves were respected under the laws of Handiong.
10 But there came the big flood freed by Unos, with earthquakes and the eruption of the
volcanoes of Hantik, Kolasi, and Isarog. Rivers dried up and the seas receded. The earth
parted, mountains sank, and many towns in Ibalon were destroyed.
11 Then appeared the giant Rabot, half-man half-beast, with terrible powers.
Bantong, Handiong‘s good friend, was ordered to kill the new monster in Ibalon. He took with
him a thousand warriors to attack Rabot‘s den. Bantong used his wisdom against Rabot. He did
not attack the giant‘s den right away but instead observed Rabot‘s ways. He saw many rocks
around the den. They were people turned into rock by Rabot.
13 He also learned that Rabot loved to sleep. When Rabot slept very soundly, Bantong was
able to go near him. The giant died with a single stab by the brave and wise Bantong. Ibalon
was at peace once more.