Archive for the ‘Ibalon epic’ Category

The History of "Tierra de Ybalon" and UP Ibalon

November 14, 2008

by Mighty Baylon

It was said that even before the Spaniards came, our region was already called Ibalon by its inhabitants. I doubt if we were already a united entity during that time owing to the difficulty of transportation and communication and having no ruler higher than a datu. But somehow due to a common language, albeit with distinct dialectical variations, its people might have some sort of common identity.

Ibalon was explored by the Spaniards in 1569 coming from two directions. One expedition came from Panay and passed by Masbate, Ticao and Burias islands before landing on the southern coast of Bicol and it was said it reached Camilig (Daraga) though some thought that the expedition reached only portions of the current Sorsogon.

Another came from Manila passing by current Laguna de Bay and probably through Mauban, Quezon in search of the famed gold of Mambulao (J. Panganiban today) and Paracale (but which was reported to reached the present Naga City). It was said that most of the inhabitants of the place then were Tagalogs coming from Mauban and trade links were maintained via boats in Lamon Bay.

This aspect can only be understood today if one knows the trade winds and that sailing by boat (paglalayag) is the dominant method of long-distance transportation then owing to the lack of roads. Southern Bicol is definitely known in Panay because the historical fishing season in central Philippines revolved around the Sibuyan and Samar seas where fishermen followed the fish in a counterclockwise cycle.

The expedition that emanated from Manila called the northern part of the peninsula called the place “Tierra de Camarines” due to the abundance of rice camarins. The southern half of the peninsula was called “Tierra de Ibalon”.

Another expedition was launched in 1573 coming from Manila. Entering the current Naga from San Miguel Bay it followed the course of the Bicol River until it reached Lake Bato where they found the village of Libon (or Libong). This expedition later reached the current Legazpi probably through the Albay portion of the Bicol River.

Ecclesiastically, the whole of Bicol was under the diocese of Nueva Caceres which was founded in 1595. But militarily the northern part was ruled from Manila and the southern part was ruled from Panay. The southern part was for a short time called the “Partido de Libon”.

Later the term “Tierra de Ybalon” was used to refer to the whole peninsula. In 1636, the peninsula was divided into two administrative areas. To “Ambos Camarines” the areas under the present towns of Donsol, Camalig, Guinobatan, Jovellar (Quipia), Ligao, Oas, Polangui and Libon was transferred. This was latter called the “Partido de Iraya” . However the areas under the current towns of Lagonoy, Sagnay (but these probably included the whole of the current Partido area) and Caramoan peninsula were included in “Partido de Ibalon”. This is thought to be the area called “Partido de Lagonoy”. This arrangement is only understandable if trade winds and sea patterns are considered and the Bicol River as a transportation artery is recognized.

In 1846 “Partido de Iraya” and “Partido de Lagonoy” were exchanged, paving way for the modern division of Albay and Camarines Sur.

Steve David, a charter member of UP Ibalon, did the research of the term “Ibalon” in behalf of our organization. He was the proponent of the name “Ibalon” for the new organization that will replace UP Paglaom. However, I vetoed his spelling “Ybalon”. Too close for comfort and we will just spend the rest of the time explaining the spelling.

The name was carried and as they say the rest is history.

The Stonehenge’s Secret Revealed, A Lost Amazon Tribe Discovered, & A Burial Urn Found To Bind The Ibalon Epic to Bicolanos

May 30, 2008

The Stonehenge’s secret was revealed, said the British archeologists who studied the prehistoric rock-edifice which baffled the world for centuries. Based on carbon dating of cremated human burial remains found in the site, the prehistoric relic served as cemetery 500 years before the rock monument was erected in 3000 B.C, about 300 years earlier than once thought. Yorkshire Post (05/30/08, Harvey J.)

The finding clarified some controversies surrounding the Stonehenge which carried myths including that one which told of the circularly arranged sarsen stone as a prehistoric outpost for extraterrestials in the British Isles.

Just as the Stonehenge’s report came out, in the forested border of Brazil and Peru where Amazon jungle’s vegetation grew sparse, was a sighting of scantily-clad primitive tribesmen believed to have no contact with civilization. According to Survival International, a London-based organization which defends rights of indigenous people worldwide, the discovery of the jungle-dwellers bolstered the need to protect the Amazon from the interferences of developers, loggers, and oil prospectors. (05/30/08. Brasiliero,A)

Such concern for human beings and history was shown in Naga City, Philippines as well. An ancient burial urn with a serrated border shed clues to the Ibalon epic, a mythical tale of Bicol’s past which the people hungered to know about. The 32 cm. rounded urn cover on which was carved a depiction of the Ibalon story (see top photo,) had been kept in the Museo Conciliar de Nueva Caceres, housed in the old Holy Rosary Minor Seminary building.

In the Ibalon epic, Handiong was the king of Libmanan who sent 1,000 warriors under the leadership of Bantong to kill half-man, half-beast giant monster Rabot. Bantong slew Rabot while asleep in a cave dwelling.

The epic narrates that Handiong and his warriors came to Ibalon (Spanish colonizers once called Bicol as Tierra de Ybalon) to “clear” the place and start planting but he was challenged by a serpent called Uryol who later became a close ally in building the civilization in the region.Bicol Mail (11/22/07, Escandor, J Jr.)

Anthropologist-professor Zeus Salazar of the University of the Philippines thought part of the Ibalon story was etched on the celebrated urn cover which was crafted somewhere in 5,000 BC to 10 AD. It placed the age of the urn to be two thousand years older than the Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England.

The one-of-a-kind pottery was part of the antique collection of Dr. Ermelo Almeda who went places to beef up his treasure-trove of Stone-age tools, historic artifacts, old ornaments, animal eggs, and earthen wares.

The urn’s authenticity was however doubted by Dr. Jesus Peralta, a retired archeologist of the National Museum for the “unscientific” way it was retrieved in Bigaho, Libmanan, Camarines Sur back in 1982. A minaret-like portion of the of the urn’s design, the lack of carbon-dating and documentation made him suspect the piece was bought from Mindanao.

But Dr. Salazar who traced the Ibalon epic from a fragmented five-part story published by Spanish Friar Jose Castano in the 1800s wove an interesting interpretation of the urn cover whose depiction of the Ibalon folklore might enrich the understanding of the myth which Bicolanos seek to know. The paucity of information about Ibalon made it all the more significant and intriguing.==0==

More of this burial urn in: Vol. XXIV, 11/22/07.