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Hudhud (War Epic of Ifugao)

Philippine Literature: Philippine Epics: Introduction, Review, Story, Summary of ‘Hudhud,’ a Philippine epic story of the Ifugao Province, Cordillera.

‘Hudhud,’ is one of the earliest epics ever written in the Philippines. It was believed to have originally been written in an ancient Philippine script called ‘Alibata,’ and then later on translated, upon discovery, into Tagalog (Filipino).

The ‘Hudhud’ was part of the earliest traditions of the Ifugao tribal people. It was chanted among the natives whenever a prominent person dies in their village, (or, recited during a harvest season.)

The ‘Hudhud’ was a powerful narrative, recounting the story of heroes with god-like abilities. Aliguyan was the name of ‘Hudhud’s primary hero.

Although not as much famous as the Ilocos region’s ‘Biag ni Lam-ang’ (Life of Lam-ang), or the world-famous Beowulf, the Ifugao epic ‘Hudhud,’ continues to become a favorite among students or researchers of Philippine literature. The reason is because it illustrates some very important lessons – the evils and foolishness of warfare, and, the goodness and advantages of upholding peace.

Because of its classic theme, the story of ‘Hudhud’ remains relevant even up to these days. And because of its social significance in upholding tradition, the ‘Hudhud’ deserves the recognition of the UNESCO, and ought to be considered and protected as a valuable cultural heritage.


(story summary)

Long had there been conflict between the two tribes that lived in the land of Ifugao. One tribe was ruled by Antalao, and his son Aliguyan; and the rival tribe was ruled by Pangaiwan, with his son Pumbakhayon.

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The conflict between the two tribes halted for some time, but once, Aliguyan decided to continue his battle with his opponent Pumbakhayon.

Aliguyan prayed to the rooster, and to the Idao bird, which gave him a sign that he made the right decision. Aliguyan, with his companions then, proceeded to the plains of Daligdigan. There, he shouted, urging Pumbakhayon to do battle with him.

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Pumbakhayon instantly accepted the challenge. They agreed to meet at a set date and time, and they would fight to the death.

When Pumbakhayon went home to prepare for the battle, unknowingly just like what Aliguyan did, Pumbakhayon prayed to the rooster and the Idao bird.

And the two heroes battled in the fields. They possessed equal strength and cleverness in doing battle. The battle was amazing. Even the ladies applauded.

In the middle of the fight, Dangunay, Pumbakhayon’s mother, arrived with Pumbakhayon’s sister Bugan. Dangunay advised to stop the fight since it was obvious that the two heroes were just equally brave.

But the battle between Aliguyan and Pumbakhayon continued. It continued and lasted until one and a half year, when, Aliguyan decided to visit his home. He was greeted with a celebration; but a celebration that did not last for long, because Pumbakhayon followed Aliguyan and their battle continued.

Just like their previous battles, Aliguyan and Pumbakhayon’s fight continued to be in the level field. Aliguyan’s mother, Dumalao, arrived with Aliguyan’s sister Aginaya. Just like what Pumbakhayon’s mother advised, Dumalao asserted to stop the fight since it was obvious that the two heroes were just equal in strength and cleverness.

But the battle between Aliguyan and Pumbakhayon continued. Their battle became well known throughout the land of Ifugao.

News of the battle reached Daulayan, steadfast suitor of Pumbakhayon’s sister Bugan. But Daulayan received a news that Pumbakhayon, his would-be brother-in-law, was defeated and killed by Aliguyan. Daulayan decided to take revenge, but was only surprised to see that Pumbakhayon was still alive.

Nonetheless, Daulayan still challenged Aliguyan. And Daulayan was defeated by Aliguyan.

Pumbakhayon declared that Daulayan’s loss was a great shame. Pumbakhayon would not let him marry his sister Bugan, and he announced that the rightful man to receive his sister’s hand in marriage was no one else but Aliguyan.

There was great joy and festivity. The two opposing tribes achieved peace. Aliguyan married Pumbakhayon’s sister Bugan, and when Aliguyan took Pumbakhayon with him to his home tribe, Pumbakhayon met Aliguyan’s sister Aginaya. And their hearts were in agreement. Pumbakhayon took Aginaya to his home tribe and married.

Since then, there had been peace and joy between the two tribes of Aliguyan and Pumbakhayon. Both tribes became known as great and honorable…The End…

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