Philippine Epic Poetry

What is an epic?

Epic is a long narrative poem written in an elevated tone, in which heroes of great historical or mythical significance perform important deeds. The setting is immense in nature, encompassing great nations, the planet, or the cosmos, and action is important to the history of a nation or a country.

Some Facts about Filipino Epic Poetry

Epic poetry is considered the highest point of growth in Filipino folk literature, including narratives recounting the stories of tribal heroes.

Centuries before the Spanish arrived, the Filipinos had their own epics, cultural traditions, legends, and mythologies.

Tales of love and adventure of native heroes, born with the strength of the gods, fought demons, triumphed over mighty armies, rode the sea, flew in flying helmets, and defended the early inhabitants of the islands.

The Filipino folk epics are essentially heroic adventures and can be divided into two groups: the epics of romance, in which the main adventures consist of a hero courting specific women, or in search of beautiful women whom he can marry; and the epics in which the hero undertakes adventures mainly in the service of his family, his country, his people, and others.

Epics showing the hero’s value and importance as an individual are also part of the second category. Such two types are not mutually exclusive, and epics that are predominantly romantic have adventures of the other kind, and vice versa.

The first examples in the first group are Lam-Ang, Ulalim, Labaw Donggon, Bantugan, Lumalindaw, and Kudaman. However, some of these epics do not belong solely to the first group. For example, Lam-Ang’s first adventure was his search for his father, who had gone to fight the Igorots and had never returned.


Here’s a sample activity in your quest for Philippine epics.

Philippine Epics Activity