Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Must Attend: Hinilawod The Musicale at the CCP this September

I remember vividly that it was on the 21st day of October 2010 at Crossroad 77 in Mother Ignacia, Quezon City, when I first saw Hinilawod LIVE! Months before that, the play was already staged successfully in Dumaguete City. Unfortunately, we failed to see it over there. Bala just transferred to a new job at the time and it was virtually impossible for him to be granted another set of vacation leaves.

                               Courtesy of

Imagine my thrill when I finally saw a teaser that Sunday morning! I have heard rave reviews about the play but seeing it up close was beyond anything I've expected. Proof was that I've got goosebumps all over! I felt like I was transported back to pre-historic Philippines because of the way the characters spoke, sang, looked and moved. While watching, I can't help but remember all the prior lectures I've heard about the play. The  Philippines, they say, boasted of a rich socio-cultural tradition even before the colonizers came. But since our history was written by the colonizers themselves, they twisted the truth to their advantage and robbed us off our national dignity.

What I love about Hinilawod is that it gives us a glimpse of our rich culture during a time when the Philippines still had honor. Whenever I wear the Hinilawod shirt for instance, I feel like I'm part of that movement to bring back the dignity that has been taken from us for so long.

After the teaser performance, I was able to buy that black shirt and the partner comic book. The beautiful thing about these souvenirs is that they make the Hinilawod vision accessible to fans, like me. Furthermore, just being aware that such Filipino epic exists, is in itself a national miracle!

In fact, when I saw Ms. Lea Salonga during the Meet & Greet hours later, I just found myself handing her the comic book!

Before this play, I didn't know anything about Hinilawod. I didn't know that it is comparable to Homer's Odyssey and Iliad with an even greater advantage. The Iliad has only 15,700 verses compared to  Hinilawod's 28,340 verses! An even greater surprise was when I finally realized that the author was the father of our dear org adviser and friend from UP Diliman!

Kuya Bot's father, National Artist for Literature Prof. F. Landa Jocano wrote Hinilawod in 1955 to disprove his teacher's allegation that the Philippines didn't have any epic. Armed with dogged determination and a passion for the unknown, he traveled his hometown of Panay and even the the uplands of Lambunao, Maasin, Janiuay and Calinog in Iloilo in search of that elusive epic.

It was only when he reached these towns that he finally found what he had been looking for. There, he got introduced to the long and popular tale called Hinilawod. Since the epic was by nature an oral tradition, an old man called Ulang Udig had to sing the epic to him. The following year, Jocano brought with him a technician and an amphibious tape recorder to record the old man. However, when he visited him again the following year for the tale's complete recording, the old man refused to cooperate. Fortunately, Jocano was able to record another singer by the name of Hugan-an after much coaxing and cajoling. Can you believe that it took three weeks to record the complete 30 hour epic poem?

But not a lot of us are familiar with Jocano's cultural pilrimage at least not until it was made into a musical by a group of creative imagineers who go by the name of Hiyas Kayumanggi, whose main mission is to bring this epic to life!

                                                           Courtesy of

So what is Hinilawod really all about? The story revolves around the love shared between Alunsina, goddess of the eastern sky and her husband, the mortal Datu Paubari

                                                            Courtesy of

Alunsina chose him over all the unmarried gods of the different domains in the universe who later on plotted to destroy the bridegroom at all cost. Read the rest of the story here. 

The epic's rich thematic vein runs from  an arterial river rife with a people's deep longing and search for a deity or a god. That said, no one can deny that there's much Christianity in Hinilawod if you were keen on the symbolisms behind each character and ancient tradition presented in the story.


                              Courtesy of Creative Futures

Mark your calendars now! Hinilawod runs from September 3 to 4, 2011 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Main Theater. Ticket prices are Php 1,500, Php 1000, Php 500 and Php 300. Get your tickets now! Call Creative Futures Inc. at 374-4822 or Ticketworld at 981-9999.

See you there!


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