January 5, 2012

The Hinilawod

The Hinilawod is an ancient Filipino epic from the island of Panay, and one of the spiritual inspirations for Hari Ragat. It’s been turned into a musical play by Adelina Zerrudo, Pablo Subong, and Professor Romulo Pangan, all of the Western Visayas State University.

The epic follows the adventurer of the aristocratic adventurer Labaw Donggon and his brothers, from his supernatural origins as son of Datu Paubari, a mortal, and Alunsina, the goddess of the eastern sky, through the brothers’ several courtship quests, battles with giants and monsters, sorcerous schemes, and triumphant reunion at the end.  A more complete synopsis can be found here.

Elements for Hari Ragat
Some elements from this play that got into Hari Ragat include:

- Brides Selecting Their Husbands
It seems ancient Filipinos had a version of the Vedic Age swayamvara, where a noble maiden was given the opportunity to choose herself a husband from an assemblage of noble suitors who competed for her favor. 

- Tests to Prove Worth
When Labaw Donggon courts the maiden Angoy Ginbitinan, her father asks him to kill the monster Manalintad as part of her bride price.

- Gods of Mount Madyaas
In the epic, the gods are described as living on Mount Madyaas.

- Epic Journeys
The heroes Labaw Donggon, Humadapnon and Dumalapdap all make long, arduous journeys to distant lands, encountering various dangers along the way. 

- Multi-Armed Giants
Labaw Donggon had to fight a giant, Sikay Padalogdog, who had a hundred arms. 

- Sorcery and Its Banes
Humadapnon, like Odysseus, is taken captive by a sorceress, Piganun, who means to keep him as her lover for eternity.  He escapes only with the aid of his friend, Buyong Matanayon, who sprinkles ginger on the fire while they are having dinner.  The scent of ginger so repels the sorceress, supposedly a weakness of sorcerers in general, so she is powerless to prevent their escape.

- Epic Rivalries and Friendships
When Humadapnon went to court another divine maiden, he encountered the hero Buyong Makabigting who had the same intention.  They duelled over the right to court the maiden, Buyong Makabigting lost but was spared, and then swore to friendship to Humadapnon.

- Magical Gifts
Labaw Donggon had a magical cape, belt, and sword (kampilan), which were vital in his defeating the monsters he encountered.  Saragnayan, lord of the underworld, was undefeatable because of his pamlang amulet.

(All photos from the Hinilawod Wordpress site)

As a side note, this epic alone would’ve made for a great movie or even series of movies.  It’s shameful that we Filipinos as a whole are so out of touch with our pre-colonial heritage that Ang Panday II, a film whose special effects look like they were ripped off from Clash of the Titans, had to be made when there’s far better material out there that’s really our own.


  1. I like this stuff! Is there an illustrated version anywhere?

  2. Guess what! A guy's making a comic based on it! http://hinilawod.blogspot.com/

  3. Uh, whoops -- the author/artist's a lady. :-)


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