by Merito B. Espinas
Long ago, there lived in Ibalong the tribal Chief Makusog of Rawis who had an only daughter, Daragang Magayon. Her mother Dawani died shortly after giving birth to the girl. Magayon grew up to be so beautiful and sweet that love-struck swains from faraway tribes, including those outside the region, vied for her affection. But not one of the young men captivated the heart of the lovely maiden, not even the handsome but haughty Pagtuga, the great hunter and powerful Chief of Iraga, who showered Magayon’s father with fabulous gifts of gold, pearls, and wild trophies of the hunt.
Not until Ulap showed up in Rawis. He was soft-spoken but brave son of Chief Karilaya of the Tagalog Region. He had come all the long way on foot to see for himself the celebrated beauty of Daragang Magayon. Unlike other suitors, Ulap bided his time. For many days he simply stole admiring glances from a distance at Daragang Magayon as she bathed at the Yawa River.
It did not take long for an opportunity to present himself. After an unusually rainy night, Magayon went to bathe as her wont to Yawa, but a swift current, dislodging her foot from a slippery rock, abruptly plunged her into the chilly water. In a flash, Ulap was at her side and brought the trembling maiden safely to dry land. The frightened women-in-waiting could only gape at them stupified.
As the stars would have it, this sparked the glowing love between Daragang Magayon and Ulap.
A few more meetings with the lovely daraga after this fateful incident emboldened the youth to follow her home one bright morning. Signifying his intention to marry Magayon, he thrust his spear at the stairs of Chief Makusog’s house. Magayon could only blush and cast her eyes down. sensing that at last Magayon was in love and wishing only happiness for her daughter, the father offered no objection. Magayon and Ulap were overjoyed. But the wedding was to be in a month’s time, for Ulap had yet to inform his people to gather provisions for the feast.
This happy news spread fast and, in no time, reached Pagtuga. He was furious. He laid in wait for Chief Makusog to hunt, took him captive, and sent word to Magayon that unless she agreed to marry him, her father must die, and that a war would be waged against Magayon’s people.
An early date was set for the nuptials. Informed of this unhappy turn of events, Ulap abandoned the wedding preparations of his tribe and along with his bravest warriors, hastily returned to rawis just in time for the ceremonies.
In a skirmish that followed, Pagtuga was slain by Ulap. The joyous Magayon, rushing to embrace Ulap, was hit by a stray arrow. While Ulap held the dying Magayon in his arms, Linog, a burly henchman of Pagtuga hurled his spear at Ulap’s back killing him instantly. At that precise moment, Makusog swung his mighty arm and struck down Linog with his minasbad.
This awful spectacle left the combatants speechless and remorseful. Instead of rejoicing over a wedding, there was wailing over the dead and the dying. Chief Makusog, himself in tears, dug the grave for Ulap and Magayon and tenderly laid them together each in the other’s arms as they had died.
The days that followed saw the grave rising higher and higher attended by muffled rumblings and earthquakes, and red-hot boulders bursting from the crater. When this occurs, old folk believe that Pagtuga, aided by Linog, agitates the volcano to get back the gifts which, following the ancient custom, was buried with Magayon.
On certain days, when the tip is covered with clouds, the old folk say that Ulap is kissing Magayon. When afterwards rain trickles caressingly down the gentle slopes of the mountain, they insist that it is the tears of Ulap.
Magayon has since been shortened to Mayong or Mayon whose tragic story casts a foreboding shadow even on the brightest day, over this lovely countryside of Daragang Magayon.