Discovery of the Epic
Hinilawod is one of the many pieces of oral literature passed from one generation to the next, changed and morphed by the mananalaysay (storyteller) to one degree or another as he told it to his audience.
Hinilawod was first discovered “by accident” in 1955, when F. Landa Jocano, Filipino anthropologist became interested in native folklore. He traveled the hinterlands of his home province, Panay, with two colleagues collecting folk songs, stories, and riddles. It was during one of those trips to the upland barrios of Lambunao, Maasin, Janiuay, and Calinog in Iloilo that his attention was called to a long and popular tale called Hinilawod. Portions of the story were sung to him and his colleague by an old man called Ulang Udig.
Returning the following year, together with a radio technician from Central Philippine University, he then recorded a portion of the story on tape in 1956.
However, when he returned, in 1957 to make a recording of the complete story, Ulang Udig refused to cooperate . Weeks later, he was introduced to a mountain singer named Hugan-an, who, after much cajoling, allowed herself to be tape recorded as she recounted both her story and the Hinilawod story. It took three weeks to complete the recording of the 30 hour epic poem.
A concise version of the story of Hinilawod can be found in the book, Philippine Mythology, authored by the Filipino anthropologist, Dr. F. Landa Jocano.