Legarda lauds inscription of the Hinilawod epic series to international registry

May 13, 2024

Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda welcomed the inscription of the Hinilawod epic series to the UNESCO Memory of the World Committee for Asia and the Pacific (MOWCAP) Registry.

“We are pleased to welcome the inclusion of the analog recordings of the Hinilawod epic series into the Memory of the World Regional Register. These recordings are a testament to the painstaking fieldwork of one of the country’s most eminent anthropologists, F. Landa Jocano. He leaves us a significant testament of the Panay Bukidnon lifeworld, marked by our forebears’ virtuous and courageous life,” said Legarda.

“The fantastic tales of our epic heroes, as recorded by Jocano, can be reference materials to students of history because they provide evidence of the complex social structures and the elaborate philosophical views of our pre-colonial ancestors,” she added.

Sixteen (16) magnetic tapes contain the recordings and are said to be more than 30 hours long, featuring the chants and narration of epic chanters Ulang Udig of Lambunao, Iloilo, and Hugan-an, a babaylan in Tapaz, Capiz.

In 2015, Liby Limoso, visual artist and teacher at the Central Philippine University (CPU), learned about a wooden chest box that reportedly had the magnetic tapes of Jocano’s fieldwork in Lambunao and Tapaz. He urged the University leadership to initiate digitization of the tapes, prompting its officials to seek the assistance of the Filipinas Heritage Library and the University of the Philippines Center for Ethnomusicology.

“We thank everybody involved for thinking forward and helping preserve something that will be researched for hundreds of years to come,” the senator said.

“We urge all to look and help preserve historical artifacts such as these and contact authorities when they find similar items to prevent losing it forever to the elements,” she continued.

The recording’s inscription was nominated to the Memory of the World National Committee led by Dr. Nick Deocampo and the teams who diligently prepared the dossiers including Dr. Felipe Jocano Jr., Maricris de los Santos, Limoso, and Christian Jeo Talaguit.

Ivan Henares, secretary-general of the UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines, presented the nomination at the 10th Memory of the World Committee for Asia and the Pacific (MOWCAP) general meeting in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, on May 8.

The first book in the Philippines, Doctrina Christiana en Lengua Española y Tagala (Christian Doctrine in Spanish and Tagalog), published by the Dominican order in 1593, was also inscribed onto the list.

The Hinilawod epic series was featured in the cultural program Dayaw, hosted by Legarda, during the second episode of Season 13. It is one of the longest and most vibrant examples of Philippine oral literature. It features the adventures of protagonists such as Labaw Donggon, Humadapnon, and Nagmalitong Yawa.

As a testament to our pre-colonial lifeways, it provides a window by which we can know and appreciate the economic and political organization of our indigenous communities, the deeply held values and virtues, as well as the dearly held beliefs and commitment to goodness and community fellowship. (30)