Mong Palatino

blogging about the philippine left and southeast asian politics since 2004


@mongster is a manila-based activist, former philippine legislator, and blogger/analyst of asia-pacific affairs.

This is the year of tweeting birds, homeless migratory birds, and angry birds. Are there angry birds in the Philippines?

Ibong Adarna is the original ‘angry bird’ of the Philippines. It’s a classic in Philippine literature although its author is unknown. It’s a required reading material in schools so students are familiar with the story of this mythical bird whose enchanting voice can magically heal wounds and rare illnesses. But Adarna’s charm is deadly since it possesses the power to turn humans into stones. Below is an excerpt of the original text of Ibong Adarna:

Sa Tabor na cabunducan
ang siyang quinalalaguian,
cahoy na hinahapunan
Piedras Platas ang pangalan.
Cun arao ay uala roon
itong encantadang ibon,
sa iba sumasalilong
at nagpapaui nang gutom.
Cun gabing catahimican
ualang malay ang sino man,
ay siyang pag-oui lamang
sa Tabor na cabunducan.

Ay ano’i, nang tahimic na
ang gabí ay lumalim na,
siya nangang pagdating na
niyong ibong encantada.
Dumapo na siyang agad
sa cahoy na Piedras Platás,
balahibo ay nangulág
pinalitán niyang agad.
At capagdaca’i, nagcantá
itong ibong encantada,
ang tinig ay sabihin pa
tantong caliga-ligaya.
Ang príncipe ay hindi na
nacaringig nang pagcantá,
pagtúlog ay sabihin pa
himbing na ualang capara.
Ang sa ibong ugali na
cun matapos na magcantá,
ay siyang pag-táe niya
at matutulog pagdaca.
Sa masamáng capalaran
ang príncipe’i, natai-an,
ay naguing bató ngang tunay
ang catauan niyang mahal.

Matanglawin (Hawkeye) is a character in Rizal’s second novel, El Filibusterismo. He’s a Luzon bandit formerly known as Kabesang Tales, a cabeza de barangay (barangay head) in Sagpang. Matanglawin’s criminal activities are described in chapter 28 of the book

“Matanglawin was the terror of Luzon…It burned a sugar-mill in Batangas and destroyed the crops, on the following day it murdered the Justice of the Peace of Tiani, and on the next took possession of the town of Cavite, carrying off the arms from the town hall. The central provinces, from Tayabas to Pangasinan, suffered from his depredations, and his bloody name extended from Albay in the south to Kagayan in the north. The towns, disarmed through mistrust on the part of a weak government, fell easy prey into his hands—at his approach the fields were abandoned by the farmers, the herds were scattered, while a trail of blood and fire marked his passage. Matanglawin laughed at the severe measures ordered by the government against the tulisanes, since from them only the people in the outlying villages suffered, being captured and maltreated if they resisted the band, and if they made peace with it being flogged and deported by the government, provided they completed the journey and did not meet with a fatal accident on the way. Thanks to these terrible alternatives many of the country folk decided to enlist under his command.”

Tales the farmer became Matanglawin the bandit because of the oppression and injustice he suffered when the friars took possession of his land and received no support from the civil government. Here’s how Tales reacted when he learned about the plan of the friars to rob him of his precious land

“Poor Tales turned pale, he felt a buzzing in his ears, he saw in the red mist that rose before his eyes his wife and daughter, pallid, emaciated, dying, victims of the intermittent fevers—then he saw the thick forest converted into productive fields, he saw the stream of sweat watering its furrows, he saw himself plowing under the hot sun, bruising his feet against the stones and roots, while this friar had been driving about in his carriage with the wretch who was to get the land following like a slave behind his master.”

Aves de Rapiña (Birds of Prey) is the title of a controversial 1908 editorial written by Fidel Reyes in the nationalist newspaper El Renacimiento. Secretary of Interior Dean Conant Worcester sued the paper for libel because of the article. Worcester won the case but it didn’t invalidate the message of the editorial which accurately depicted the true intentions of US colonial rule in the Philippines.

“The eagle, symbolizing liberty and power, is the bird of prey that counts with the most followers. And men, individually as well as collectively, have frequently aped the most rapacious of birds in order to triumph in their acts of plunder as well as in their acts of robbery and theft against their fellowmen.

“Climbing the mountains of Benguet with the supposed objective of classifying and measuring the skulls of the Igorrotes, with the pretext of studying them in order to civilize them, they go there to really search, as they fly in the air with the eyes of a bird of prey, the locations of gold deposits, (the hidden booty in the midst of the sad mountains), with the aim of later grabbing these for themselves. And thanks to the facilities, supposedly legal with which they do, and undo, their acts at their own pleasure, that they always get to grab these treasures for their own benefit.

“Such are the characteristics of the men who are at the same time an eagle that surprises and devours, a vulture who gorges itself with putrid meat, an owl who feigns petulant omniscience, and a vampire that silently sucks the victim’s blood until leaving her with deathlike pallor.”

Mga Ibong Mandaragit is a socio-political novel written by National Artist for Literature Amado V. Hernandez. It was published in 1969, a year before the author’s death. The book is about the continuing neocolonial subjugation of the Philippines after World War II. It exposes the numerous social problems of agrarian Philippines and the decadent rule of the oligarchic class. It’s still a required reading material for third year high school students in many schools. The book is praised not just for its literary merits but also for its brave articulation of the necessity for radical politics to successfully reform Philippine society.

Bayan Ko is a poem by Jose Corazon de Jesus written in 1929. It has become the most popular protest song in the country especially during the Martial Law years. It’s most famous lines reflected the yearning of Filipinos to be free from colonial and neocolonial bondage and other forms of oppression.

Ibon mang may layang lumipad,
kulungin mo at umiiyak!
Bayan pa kayang sakdal dilag,
Ang ‘di magnasang makaalpas?
Pilipinas kong minumutya,
Pugad ng luha ko’t dalita,
Aking adhika,
Makita kang sakdal laya!

The Philippine Eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) is the king of Philippine birds. It was officially declared the country’s national bird in 1995. For a long time it was mocked as a monkey-eating eagle but scientists insisted that it’s an inaccurate moniker for our Haring Agila.

Perhaps the real angry bird is the so-called Maya. First, it was never recognized as a national bird though many Filipinos (including me) grew up thinking that it was the original national bird. Second, the little brown bird we call Maya is actually not the real Maya.

But we will soon have thousands of angry migratory birds if the planned reclamation project in Manila Bay near Coastal Road and Freedom Island will push through. Despite its polluted waters, Manila Bay is still the preferred stopover of migratory birds but the Noynoy Aquino government had just issued an order to demolish the bird sanctuary when it approved a reclamation project in a critical habitat area in Manila Bay.

There are two ways to describe the birds inside cockpit arenas. Either the sabong birds have anger management issues or they are born warriors. Pinikpikan could be the horror code for birds which fear torture. #itlognitopacio is the most infamous angry bird in the Philippines today (apologies to the birds of the world).

Special mention should go to Ibon Foundation, one of the very few angry bird think-tanks in the country.

2 Responses to “‘Angry Birds’ of the Philippines”

  1. what is the name of most beautiful bird in the philippines?

    allan aquino jr.

  2. Thank you for you explanations about Matanglawin. the character is also described in Chapter XXXVIII, José Rizal, Revolution in the Philippines. Could you please tell me the link between Matanglawin and today’s political opposition ? Thank you.


Leave a Reply