(I bet you thought it was gonna be the Iliad, huh)
Ibong Adarna (The Adarna Bird) is a metrical romance from the Philippines. It was originally written in Tagalog sometime in the 17th century while the Philippines were under Spanish rule; the author is unknown. It consists of 1034 short verses that rhyme in the original language; sadly, they don't rhyme in the English translation, but the story was still enjoyable.
The story itself is an elaborate mash-up of many well-known folktale types. We have three princes that go on quests, magic birds to find, princesses to rescue, dragons to slay, bird-maidens to steal dresses from, magical flights with objects turning into obstacles... the works. It reads as if the author decided to put the "best of" lineup of fairy tale motifs into one continuous romance. They succeeded.
The hero of the epic, Don Juan, is the youngest of the three sons of King Fernando of Berbania (feeling some Spanish influence here). He does everything a youngest prince does: Surpasses his older brothers until they want to kill him, goes on long and elaborate adventures, and survives against all impossible odds. Don Juan in this case is also quite amorous. He will woo any princess that comes his way, which creates an interesting conflict at the end of the story: All the princesses he swore his love to show up for a wedding, and since this is a Christian romance, Don Juan can only wed one of them. Oops.
Although it follows well-known folktale types, the story does have a few rare gems:
2. One of the princesses rescued from the Underworld has a pet wolf. A magical pet wolf. A flying magical pet wolf. Yep.
3. One of the settings for the epic is a place called the Crystal Kingdom (or, as it is said in the translation, "Kingdom de los Cristal"). It is mostly named so because the failed suitors of the princess turn into crystal instead of stone. Now there is a visual I would love to see in a movie.
4. The end of the romance is definitely the best part. After Don Juan returns home with Bride B (Doña Maria), he meets Bride A (Doña Leonora) again, and completely forgets about Bride B. Doña Maria, who is by the way a very accomplished white magic sorceress, comes to the wedding and puts on a shadow-puppet show, telling the story of how she met Don Juan, and how she had saved his life more than eight times (!). Every time the shadow-puppet bride hits her foolish shadow-puppet husband, it is Don Juan who actually gets hurt. Because magic. Doña Maria successfully makes her case with the show, and ends up marrying Don Juan. Doña Leonora gets to marry one of the older brothers.
Happily Ever After.