The year was 1955. In the young man’s quest to refute a college teacher’s statement that the Filipino had no epics, F. Landa Jocano, a young college student, spent his school breaks scouring the mountain villages of Panay in search of folktales, stories, and riddles.
Reaching a busy marketplace in Lambunao, Iloilo, he heard an old man named Ulang Udig, chanting a story to his grandson. Jocano asked him what he was chanting, and the old man answered, “Hinilawod.” He said he had learned it from his grandfather. He chanted it in his language, Kinaray-a.
Excited, Jocano attempted to write it all down, but because of its lengthiness, and his lack of paper, he was not able to complete his transcription.
Returning every year, when he had a school break, bringing with him a radio technician from Central Philippine University, Jocano went back to see Ulang Udig but on the second year, the old man was no longer willing to chant for him.
In his quest to find another chanter, he was finally introduced to a mountain singer named Hugan-an. It took three weeks to complete the recording of all 28,340 verses — it turned out to be a 30-hour epic poem.
His soul was at rest. The Filipino did have an epic.
F. Landa Jocano went on to the University of Chicago for doctoral studies and became the country’s first anthropologist.
Portions as well as the whole story of Hinilawod may be read in F. Landa Jocano’s publications.
Epic of Labaw Donggon (1965)
Outline of Philippine Mythology (1969)
The Adventures of Humadapnon, Tarangban I (2000)
The Adventures of Humadapnon, Tarangban II (2011)
[This text is lifted from the Hinilawod 2012 Calendar produced by Hiyas Kayumanggi.]