Hinilawod chant honored by UNESCO-MOWCAP

The Hinilawod Epic Chant Recordings (Hinilawod Recordings) were recently inscribed in the regional registry of the Memory of the World during the 10th Memory of the World Committee for Asia and the Pacific (MOWCAP) General Meeting in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

Receiving the certificate of inscription were United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Philippine National Commission (PH-UNACOM) Secretary General Ivan Anthony Henares, PhD, and staff member, Aaron Veloso.

(From left) Henares and Veloso holding the certificates of inscription. Photo from Henares

A report posted on the UP Center for Ethnomusicology (UPCE) website described the artifacts as such: “The Hinilawod Recordings are part of the F. Landa Jocano collection, which were digitized and curated by the UPCE. Of the 22 open tape reels, 19 are recordings of the Hinilawod, totaling a running time of 35 hours and 32 minutes.” 

One of the 22 open tape reels. Photo from the UPCE

The UPCE report stated that through “the tireless efforts of the PH-UNACOM, Felipe Jocano Jr. [F. Landa Jocano’s son, and a professor at the UP Diliman (UPD) Department of Anthropology (DAnthro)], the UPCE, Henry Luce III Library and Archives of the Central Philippine University, and the Panay Bukidnon community, a spot in the regional registry was successfully secured through the voting of the MOWCAP members. This recognition puts the Hinilawod chant in Grade I Level of the National Cultural Heritage Act [Republic Act No. 10066], thus giving it priority for its protection, preservation, and promulgation.”

UPCE Archive Collections Manager Roan Opiso (standing) introducing the Jocano reels during the 3rd Regular Meeting of PH-UNACOM at the UPCE on 30 Aug. 2023. Photo from the UPCE

The same report added that, “UPCE is proud to now have in its archive, collections that are inscribed in both the UNESCO Memory of the World Regional and Memory of the World International registries. We celebrate with the rest of the Filipino people in honoring our Panay Bukidnon brothers, and in honoring the work of anthropologist F. Landa Jocano.”

In the introduction of the book Epic of Central Panay 2: Hinilawod, Adventures of Humadapnon, Tarangban I, F. Landa Jocano said, “Hinilawod is one of the longest epic poems found among the Sulod, a group of people inhabiting the interior mountains of Central Panay. I recorded this story from 1955 to 1957, transcribed it in 1958, and translated it into English in 1959. That was almost 45 years ago. I never touched it until 1995, when I retired from the University of the Philippines. Also, after my lengthened residence in the area in the late 1950s, I visited the Sulod land only twice—first during the school break (April to June) in 1968 and then during the school break in 1974. Since then, I have not visited the place. Thus, when I speak of the Sulod, I refer to the groups of people among which I lived from 1955 to 1957, 1968, and 1974.”

F. Landa Jocano, a known Filipino anthropologist, taught at Danthro. He passed away in 2013.

F. Landa Jocano. Photo from the UPD Asian Center

According to the website of the 2010 play Hinilawod, staged at the Silliman University, Dumaguete, the Hinilawod chant narrates the story of Alunsina, goddess of the eastern sky, her husband Datu Paubari, the mighty ruler of Halawod, and the exploits of their demigod triplets Labaw Donggon, Humadapnon, and Dumalapdap. Because of its length, about 29,000 verses, it would take about two to three days to complete the chanting of the whole epic.

MOWCAP, according to its website, “was set up in 1998 and is the regional forum for UNESCO’s global Memory of the World (MOW) Programme. In the Asia Pacific region, many libraries, archives, and memory institutions face formidable challenges: economic, climatic, and geographic. MOWCAP aims to assist with the preservation of and universal access to documentary heritage of the Asia/Pacific region, and also to increase awareness of the existence and significance of the heritage.”

Also inscribed in the MOWCAP regional registry was Doctrina Christiana en Lengua Española y Tagala, a catechism tome in Spanish and Tagalog and the first book printed in the Philippines. The last existing copy is housed in the US Library of Congress.

The 10th MOWCAP General Meeting was held on May 8. —With a report from the UPCE