Robert Seña and Isay Alvarez coach scholars who will mount Hinilawod play this September


Real-life couple Isay Alvarez and Robert Seña coached the cast of Hinilawod, a theaterical production based on an epic poem from the Visayas. It will be staged at the CCP from September 3-4, 2011.


Distinguished performers and acting coaches, Robert Seña and Isay Alvarez served as mentors for the upcoming theatrical play titled Hinilawod.

This jewel of Filipino pre-Spanish culture will be presented at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo (CCP Main Theater) on September 3-4, 2011.

Hinilawod is an epic poem from central Panay in the Philippines that happens to be even longer than the the Greek epic Iliad. Attributed to Homer, the Iliad contains 15,700 verses and is set during the Trojan War.


During the 1950s, Dr. F. Landa Jocano recorded and wrote the text of the Hinilawod—which contains more than 28,340 verses—making it one of the longest epics known.

Hinilawod means "Tales from the Halawod River." It tells the story of demigod brothers, Labaw Donggon, Humadapnon and Dumalapdap of ancient Panay.

Last 2010, Hiyas Kayumanggi, a group of nation-believing imaginers, revived this unique Filipino cultural icon through a series of musical-theatrical performances staged at the Luce Auditorium of Siliman University, in Dumaguete City.

This 2011, Manila theatergoers will have their chance to witness Hinilawod, an oral epic of Filipino indigenous people inhabiting Panay Island before the coming of the Spaniards. And in preparation, the cast had the chance to be mentored by renowned theater artists Robert Seña and Isay Alvarez.

In the presscon of Hinilawod held last July 14 at Energy Lounge of Crossroad 77, Mother Ignacia Ave. corner Scout Reyes, Quezon City—the couple shared details about their experience and recounted how they handled the workshops.

"It’s a privilege to mentor a big cast," Isay said.

Robert agreed, "Yes that’s true. Especially that this is the first time that it will be shown here in Manila."

Isay recalled, "We had workshops in Dumaguete. Actually last May, Robert and I went there to conduct a three-day workshop for the cast.

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"I’m very fortunate to teach these actors. Even though they were so good, they are willing to learn more. They open their hearts and minds for a new learning experience regarding theater and music," she said.

Robert continued, "I think that’s the key for an actor to better on what he/she’s doing—the willingness to work hard and the willingness to learn more."

"I’m thankful that this team gave their best in every way that they could," he said with a smile.

Did they have any particular strategy or technique that they shared with the cast?

"Its important for them—we called it sensory, so they’re aware of everything like all the senses, ’yon lang," Robert answered.

"That’s the first thing that we teach them—they have to be conscious and aware of all the senses," he reiterated.


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