Ibong Adarna (Adarna Bird), or the “Romance of the Life of the three Brothers Prince, Sons of King Fernando and Queen Valeriana of the Kingdom of Berbania“, is a popular Filipino korido or metrical romance (Spanish-inspired romantic narrative set in verse) written in quatrains.
The Ibong Adarna korido contains 1,722 stanzas and is divided into five main parts: the search for the Ibong Adarna or Adarna bird, the descent into a well, the rescue of two captive princesses, the hero’s betrayal at the hands his brothers and his search for a fabled kingdom, and, finally, the hero’s restitution to his rightful place in the kingdom of Berbanya/Berbania (from WikiPilipinas).
As a literary text, the Ibong Adarna epic is a hodgepodge of near-kitschy elements culled from European, Asian and even African sources. It tells of adventures and magical powers, romance and love, the courage and piety and the treachery and betrayal of highborn characters.
But despite this ‘low-brow’ brew of romance and adventure, the Ibong Adarna is a well-loved tale and has seen countless versions and performances in Filipino comics, movies, radio series and theatrical plays.
In some schools, the tale used to be required reading for elementary and junior high schools, but with the korido no longer performed or recited the tale is now known or produced only in its modern versions.
Long live Philippine literature!