King Fernando of Berbania had three sons, Pedro, Diego and Juan of whom the last was the favorite. He so loved Juan that when one night he dreamed that his two children conspired against their youngest brother, the king became so frightened that he fell sick with a malady, which non of the physicians of the kingdom were able to cure. Persons were not lacking, however, who would advise him that bird Adarna was the one living being in the world which could restore to him his lost health and tranquility. Acting on this advice, he sent out his oldest son Pedro to look for this coveted animal. After days of wandering through the dense forests ad extensive thickets, he came to a tree of diamond, at the foot of which he fell down tired and thirsty. He never suspected that it was this tree the very one in which the famous bird was accustomed to pass the night; and when the night was setting and the Adarna flung into the air the first of its seven songs, his melody was so softly sweet that Pedro was lulled into a profound sleep. After emitting its seventh melody for the night, the bird defecated on the sleeping prince who was thereby converted into a stone.
When Pedro had not returned after the lapse of one year, the impatient king commanded his second son Diego also to launch out in search of the same bird. Diego underwent the same vicissitudes and hardships and came to exactly the same fate as Pedro - converted into a stone at the foot of the enchanted tree. At last Juan, the youngest and most favored son was sent forth, after his elder brothers in search of the treacherous bird. Juan, however, had the fortune to meet on his way an old hermit who impressed by the virtuous and good manners of the young prince on knowing the mission on which he embarked, put him on guard against the treacheries, intrigues and cunning of the famous bird. First, he provided him with a knife and a fruit of lemon, warning him that if he wanted to free himself from the irresistible drowsiness into which one would to be induced by the seven melodies of the Adarna, he had to open on his body seven wounds and distil into them the juice of the lemon that the pain thereby caused might present him from sleeping. Next, the hermit warned him to avoid any defecation that might fall from the bird after it had sung its seven songs, so that he would not suffer the fate of his brothers. Lastly, he told him that after finishing his seventh song the famous bird would fall sleep and that the prince should take advantage of this occasion to take him prisoner. The hermit gave him a golden cord to tie the bird when caught and two pails of water to pour over his two petrified brothers and thereby bring them back to life. Juan did as was bidden and soon found himself in possession of the desired bird and on his way back to his home country with his two brothers, Pedro and Diego.
On the way, however, being envious on account of the fact that Juan had obtained what they were not able to do so, the two older brothers conspired between themselves to do away with him. Pedro suggested that they should kill him but Diego who was less brutal convinced Pedro that it was sufficient to beat him, which they did. After beating Juan to whom they owed their lives, they left him unconscious in the middle of the road and the two brothers continued their way to the palace where they presented themselves to their fathers as the ones who actually caught the bird Adarna. To their surprise, the bird refused to sing for the king in the absence of Prince Juan and the monarch did not get well. It was also fortunate that the old hermit who guided Juan to the Adarna found him stretched out helpless on the road, after curing him of his wounds the prince could return safe and sound to his father's kingdom. It as then the bird, out of sheer contentment, burst into most harmonious song recounting it its proper time to the king after he was cured the truth about the absence of Juan. The monarch, blinded by his ire, decreed the death of his two elder sons; but Juan with a noble heart interceded for them as always and once again reigned in the kingdom peace and merriment.
But on a certain night when Juan fell asleep while guarding the Adarna bird in its golden cage, his two elder brothers again entered into conspiracy with one another to put him in bad with their father by letting out the bird from the cage. Juan, ashamed of what he thought was his fault, slipped out of the palace and started to go in search of the famous bird. King Fernando hurriedly ordered Pedro and Diego to start pursuit of the bird and Juan. During the search the bird could not be found anywhere, but the three brothers happened to meet at a place close to a well which they decided to explore instead of returning to the palace for the fear of the ire of their father. Pedro, the eldest, was the first to descend by means of a cord lowered by the two brothers who remained above; but he had scarcely gone a third of the way when he felt afraid and gave sign for his two brothers to pull him out of the well. Presently, Diego was let down but he too could not go farther down than half of the way. When it was Juan's turn to go he allowed himself to be let down to the lowest depths of the cistern.
There the prince discovered two enchanted palaces, the first being occupied by Princess Juana who informed him she was being held prisoner by a giant, and the second by Princess Leonora, also the prisoner of a big seven-headed serpent. After killing the giant and the serpent, the prince tagged on the cord and soon came up to the surface of the earth with the two captive princesses, whom his two brothers soon wanted to take away from him. Pedro desired Princess Juana for himself and Diego wanted Princess Leonora. Before the parting, however, Leonora discovered that she left her ring in the innermost recesses of the well. Juan voluntarily offered to take it for her but when he was half way down, the two brothers criminally let him fall to the bottom and abandoned him to his face.
Not long after wedding bells were rung in the palace. Pedro married Princess Juana but Princess Leonora before casting her lot with Prince Diego requested her marriage to him delayed for a term of seven years because she might still have a chance to unite herself with Don Juan. Don Juan, thanks to Leonora's enchanted ring found in the well, could avail himself of the help of a wolf which cured him of his wounds, fix his dislocations, bringing him the medicinal waters of the Jordan, and took him out from the profundities of the well. Already shorn of all hope of ever finding the Adarna, Don Juan resolved to return to the Kingdom. But to his confusion, he was unable to find his way. No one could tell him precisely which was the way that would lead him to the kingdom of his father. He came across two or three hermits neither of whom could give him the necessary information. The last of these called into conference all the birds big and small marauding around in those parts, but none of them could tell the prince the direction towards the Berbanian Kingdom. But the king of all the crowd, a swiftly soaring eagle, having compassion for his troubles, offered to take the prince to wherever he desired. In long continued flight the prince and the eagle traversed through infinite spaces until they came to a distant crystal lake on whose shores they landed to rest from their long and tiresome flight. Then the eagle relate to his companion the secrets of the crystal lake. This was the bathing place where in certain hours of the day the three daughters of the most powerful and most feared king fo the surrounding regions used to plunge and dive into the water and swim; and for this reason it was not proper for the prince to commit any indiscretion if he desired to remain and se the spectacle of the bath. Don Juan remained and when the hour of the bathing arrived he saw plunging into the pure crystal water the figures of the three most beautiful princesses whom his sinful eyes had ever seen in all his life; and then he secretly hid and kept one of the dresses. When one of the princesses noticed the outrage, her two sisters had already gone away and the prince hurriedly ran to her and on his knee begged her pardon placing at her feet her stolen dresses and at the same time poured forth the most ardent and tender professions of love. Pleased by his gentleness and gallant phrases, the princess also fell in love with him; but she advised him that it would be better for him to go away before her father would come to know of his intrusion because if he did not do so she would be converted into another piece of stone for the walls of the enchanted palace in which they live, in the same way that all the other suitors who aspired for their hands had been converted into.
On being informed of the adventure of the bold prince the king sent for him. Don Juan would dare everything for the privilege of seeing his beloved, presented himself to the king in spite of the princess' warning; and the king greatly impressed with the youth's tact and self-possession chose to give him to series of tests both gigantic and impossible of accomplishment by ordinary mortals. The first was to plant two baskets full of wheat given to him by the king on the top of the mountain after converting same into a level land, and to prepare on the following day with the grain they produce the bread for the breakfast of the king and all his courtiers. The second was to remove the mountain found in front of the king's palace to a place behind it, to make way for the cool breezes which he would like to enter his palace. The third was to gather in a single day a number of negroes and negresses thrown into the sea, and to deposit them together in a big bottle. The fourth was for him to construct a feudal castle in the sea together with its complements of troops and ammunitions, everything to be ready for the king's inspection on the following day. For the fifth and last test the king threw his ring into the ocean and made the prince recover it from its bottomless depths. To all these tests Do Juan submitted himself and in all he came out triumphant, thanks to the talisman which was given him by his beloved Dona (Princess) Maria who shared with her father king his power of enchantment. The last proved to be most difficult, as in order to look for the royal ring in the bottomless depths of the ocean, the princess had to allow her body to cut up into pieces and then thrown into the sea as this was the only way whereby the lost jewel could be recovered by her for the sake of her beloved prince.
It happened however that when her body was being cut into pieces the end of one of her fingers was dropped from the aggregate of her flesh and on the account it not recovered. But the king, who as may be seen was more obstinate than the legitimate proverbial Briton, wanted him finally to choose from the three princesses without seeing their persons except on their finger which would be places through a small hole in each of their respective rooms. The princess Dona Maria inserted her cut finger and it was not hard for Do Juan to pick her out from among the three. At this juncture, the royal monarch declared himself satisfied; but the princess fearing that her father might resort to a new trick to foil their happiness ordered the prince to direct himself to the royal stables in order to take there from the best horse, which was the seventh counting from the left, and to saddle him and have him ready for them to flee on that same night. Unfortunately, the prince made a mistake taking in his hurry the eight instead of the seventh charger which was the fastest in the whole stable, and when the king came to know of their flight he himself mounted the seventh and immediately went in pursuit of the fugitives whom he soon was about to overtake. In this contingency, the princess in order to save themselves, unfastened and dropped her hair pins which, on touching the ground, were converted into an extensive pile of thorns that obliged their tenacious persecutor to along way around. When the next time he came in sight close behind them, the princess shook off the sweat drops on her face and they were converted into a wide mass of impassable clasp which caused the king to be detained long a second time. For the last time the princess poured out over the ground a bottle of enchanted water, which was converted into a big rapidly flowing stream which proved to be an insurmountable barrier between them and their pursuer.
When at last they found themselves safe and free, it did not take them long before they could reach the portals of the Berbanian Kingdom. But the prince, alleging that he should have such preparations duly made for entry into the royal palace as are appropriate her category and dignity, left Dona Maria on the way promising to return for her once he had informed the committee that was to receive her. But Oh! the unfaithfulness of human heart! Once in the midst of the gay life of the palace after his triumphant reception by his people, Don Juan soon forgot his professions of love to Dona Maria. The worst thing about it however was that he became dazzled by the beauty of Princess Leonora who had been waiting for him during all the days of his absence that he sought her hand in marriage; while Dona Maria was impatiently waiting for his return. When she came to know of the infidelity of Don Juan, the pilgrim princess made use of the talisman which she always carried with her and adorned with the most beautiful royal garments and carried in a large coach drawn by eight sorrel-colored horses with four palfreys, she presented herself at the door of the palace practically inviting herself to the royal wedding of the Prince Don Juan and the Princess Dona Leonora.
Out of respect for so beautiful a guest from far away foreign lands and on the occasion of the wedding itself, there were celebrated tournaments, in one of which Dona Maria succeeded in inserting as one of the number dance of a negrito and a negrita created from nothing through her marvelous talisman. In the dance the negrita carried a whip in her hand and with it she pitilessly lashed her negrito partner, calling him Don Juan while she proceeded to remind of all the vicissitudes of fortune undergone by him at the side on Dona Maria, the part which was played by the whipping negrita: the scene of the bath, the different tests to which he had been subjected by her father, the flight of both that was full of accidents, and his cruel abandonment of her on the way. Every crack of the whip which fell on the shoulders of the negrito seemed at the time to the true Don Juan as it is was lashing his own body and flesh. At the end of the scene, the prince repentant of his grave offense came down from his throne to implore pardon from the princess Dona Maria and to offer her his hand, promising to take her for his wife in the presence of all the people of his Kingdom.
When the king, his father Don Fernando, came to know of the rivalry of the two princesses, Dona Maria and Dona Leonora, both aspiring to the hand of Don Juan, he consulted with the archbishop of the kingdom on the case, the church dignitary deciding in favor of Dona Leonora invoking for her the priority of the right. But Dona Maria was determined to fight to the last for the prince of her love and, taking advantage of the power of her talisman, sent all over Barbanina Kingdom a big inundation which threatened to carry away the whole nation together with all its inhabitants. King Fernando and his subjects trembled in the face of the imminent danger and all supplicated Princess Dona Leonora to be content with marrying Don Diego, the brother of Don Juan, which she did for the good of all, occasioning for this reason a double marriage - an occasion which brought about once more tranquility and joy to the Berbanian Kingdom.
The story of the Ibong Adarna is one of the most popular metrical tale in the Philippines often narrated in its native tongue (Tagalog).