Towards a unifying, progressive anthem

The Congress may, by law, adopt a new name for the country, a national anthem, or a national seal, which shall all be truly reflective and symbolic of the ideals, history, and traditions of the people. Such law shall take effect only upon its ratification by the people in a national referendum.

[Section 2, Article XVI, Constitution of the Philippines]

With the incoming administration’s aim of revising the constitution to shift the form of government to federalism, perhaps it is time to revise or even replace “Lupang Hinirang” to reflect the new vision. After all, there is no stopping the framers of a new Constitution from adopting, or mandating the adoption of, a new anthem.

This post aims to review the current national anthem’s lyrics, and the lyrics of other possible patriotic Philippine songs. It ends with a proposed anthem, or at least what its message should be.

Lupang Hinirang

According to Section 36 of Republic Act No. 8491 (The Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines), the following are the lyrics of the national anthem:

Bayang magiliw,
Perlas ng Silanganan
Alab ng puso,
Sa Dibdib mo’y buhay.
Lupang Hinirang,
Duyan ka ng magiting,
Sa manlulupig,
Di ka pasisiil.
Sa dagat at bundok,
Sa simoy at sa langit mong bughaw,
May dilag ang tula,
At awit sa paglayang minamahal.
Ang kislap ng watawat mo’y
Tagumpay na nagniningning,
Ang bituin at araw niya,
Kailan pa ma’y di magdidilim,
Lupa ng araw ng luwalhati’t pagsinta,
Buhay ay langit sa piling mo,
Aming ligaya na pag may mang-aapi,
Ang mamatay ng dahil sa iyo.

The present anthem evokes another symbol of Philippine unity, the blue-white-red-three-stars-and-a-sun flag. It proudly proclaims the love for freedom embodied by the flag. Finally, it ends with resolve to fight for the country and continue the Philippines’ tradition of being the “cradle of noble heroes’ (Land of the morning…). If necessary, the Filipino must be ready to lay down his life.

And this is where I have long-standing reservations regarding the national anthem. It stresses that each Filipino must die. But, if that were the case, who would be left to live for the country? Kailangan ba magpaka-Rizal tayo? Yun lang ba ang pagiging tanda ng bayani? What if our deaths, although glorious, are ultimately pointless?

Pilipinas Kong Mahal

“The flag retreat song,” as my mother calls it, goes:

(A flag retreat is the opposite of a flag raising, done on the last work day before offices close for the weekend)

Ang bayan ko’y tanging ikaw,
Pilipinas kong mahal.
Ang puso ko at buhay man,
sa iyo’y ibibigay.
Tungkulin ko’y gagampanan,
na lagi kang paglingkuran.
Ang laya mo’y babantayan,
Pilipinas kong mahal.

The song stresses loyalty to the country, which is just as important as fighting for it. It also speaks of the duty to guard the country’s freedom, just like the national anthem. It does not call for every Filipino to sacrifice his life to the altar of freedom.

Yet, surely, ensuring the enjoyment of our country’s freedom is not just the duty of every Filipino. What about our own liberties – to be secure in our own persons, to speak our mind, to organize and pursue our individual and collective goals? Also, what directions should our country take? Freedom makes little or no sense if it is not directed towards something.

Ako ay Pilipino

This patriotic song, from the Marcos era (“Isang bansa, isang diwa ang minimithi ko”) goes:

Ako ay Pilipino
Ang dugo’y maharlika
Likas sa aking puso
Adhikaing kay ganda
Sa Pilipinas na aking bayan
Lantay na Perlas ng Silanganan
Wari’y natipon ang kayamanan ng Maykapal

Bigay sa ‘king talino
Sa mabuti lang laan
Sa aki’y katutubo
Ang maging mapagmahal

Chorus:
Ako ay Pilipino,
Ako ay Pilipino
Isang bansa isang diwa
Ang minimithi ko
Sa Bayan ko’t Bandila
Laan Buhay ko’t Diwa
Ako ay Pilipino,
Pilipinong totoo
Ako ay Pilipino,
Ako ay Pilipino
Taas noo kahit kanino
Ang Pilipino ay ako!

The song speaks of the qualities possessed by the Filipino setting him apart from others (ang dugo’y maharlika, likas sa aking puso adhikain kay ganda), describes the Philippines as a land of promise, and stresses his desire for unity and Filipino pride.

However, the Filipino here does not assert what role he plays towards forging that unity.

It is also a reminder to full-blooded Filipinos born in the Philippines who shout “Pinoy Pride!” when reading stories about part-Filipinos who are born and gain success abroad but barely know anything about the Philippines (except maybe the food). Ano ngayon kung Pinoy siya? Pinoy ka rin naman ah.

Never mind that this song was commissioned by Imelda Marcos. Speaking of…

Bagong Pagsilang (March of the New Society)

(Cue the drums)

May bagong silang, may bago nang buhay, bagong bansa, bagong galaw, sa bagong lipunan
Nagbabago ang lahat tungo sa pag-unlad at ating itanghal, Bagong Lipunan

May bagong silang, may bago nang buhay, bagong bansa, bagong galaw, sa bagong lipunan
Nagbabago ang lahat tungo sa pag-unlad at ating itanghal, Bagong Lipunan

Ang gabi’y nagmaliw nang ganap, at lumipas na ang magdamag, madaling araw ay nagdiriwang may umagang darasnan
Ngumiti ang pag-asa sa umagang anong ganda

May bagong silang, may bago nang buhay, bagong bansa, bagong galaw, sa bagong lipunan
Nagbabago ang lahat, tungo sa pag-unlad at ating itanghal, Bagong Lipunan

This song ushered in a “new society”, with calls for change to the old order. Of course, what happened we have completely forgiven and forgotten.

But the song does not indicate what role the Filipino will play in building the new society. Nganganga na lang ba tayo? Anong papel natin? And where does that new society lead to anyway? Saan ba patungo? Sa kawalan rin ba?

Bayan Ko

Ah yes, the protest anthem that has become associated with the Aquinos. The lyrics to this one we are all familiar with:

Ang bayan kong Pilipinas,
Lupain ng ginto’t bulaklak,
Pag-ibig nasa kanyáng palad,
Nag-alay ng ganda’t dilág.
At sa kanyáng yumi at ganda,
Dayuhan ay nahalina;
Bayan ko, binihag ka,
Nasadlak sa dusa.

Ibon mang may layang lumipad,
Kulungin mo at umiiyak,
Bayan pa kayáng sakdál dilág,
Ang ‘dì magnasang makaalpás?
Pilipinas kong minumutyâ,
Pugad ng luhà ko’t dalita;
Aking adhika,
Makita kang sakdál laya!

This song speaks about the Philippines’ promise (meriting more lines than in “Ako ay Pilipino”), how aliens took advantage of that promise, and the Filipinos’ yearning for a free country.

Curiously, like “Bagong Pagsilang”, it does not indicate what every Filipino should do to fight for that freedom. At least “Lupang Hinirang” prescribes making the sacrifice of death.

Magkaisa

This song, composed in the aftermath of the People Power Revolution, has the following lyrics:

Ngayon ganap ang hirap sa mundo
Unawa ang kailangan ng tao
Ang pagmamahal sa kapwa’y ilaan
Isa lang ang ugat na ating pinagmulan
Tayong lahat ay magkakalahi
Sa unos at agos ay huwag padadala

Chorus
Panahon na (may pag-asa kang matatanaw)
Ng pagkakaisa (bagong umaga, bagong araw)
Kahit ito (sa atin Siya’y nagmamahal)
Ay hirap at dusa
Magkaisa (may pag-asa kang matatanaw)
At magsama (bagong umaga, bagong araw)
Kapit-kamay (sa atin Siya’y nagmamahal)
Sa bagong pag-asa

Ngayon may pag-asang natatanaw
May bagong araw, bagong umaga
Pagmamahal ng Diyos, isipin mo tuwina

(Repeat Chorus)

Magkaisa (may pag-asa kang matatanaw)
At magsama (bagong umaga, bagong araw)
Kapit-kamay (sa atin Siya’y nagmamahal)
Sa bagong pag-asa

This song speaks of unity (surprise), and the exhortation to maintain it despite the hardship of the times. Where that unity leads, however, is not stated. Saan ulit patungo ang ating pagkakaisa?

Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo

Another anthem commemorating People Power, this song goes:

‘Di na ‘ko papayag mawala ka muli.
‘Di na ‘ko papayag na muli mabawi,
Ating kalayaan kay tagal natin mithi.
‘Di na papayagang mabawi muli.

Magkakapit-bisig libo-libong tao.
Kay sarap palang maging Pilipino.
Sama-sama iisa ang adhikain.
Kelan man ‘di na paalipin.

Ref:
Handog ng Pilipino sa mundo,
Mapayapang paraang pagbabago.
Katotohanan, kalayaan, katarungan
Ay kayang makamit na walang dahas.
Basta’t magkaisa tayong lahat.

Masdan ang nagaganap sa aming bayan.
Nagkasama ng mahirap at mayaman.
Kapit-bisig madre, pari, at sundalo.
Naging Langit itong bahagi ng mundo.

Huwag muling payagang umiral ang dilim.
Tinig ng bawat tao’y bigyan ng pansin.
Magkakapatid lahat sa Panginoon.
Ito’y lagi nating tatandaan.
(repeat refrain two times)

Coda:
Mapayapang paraang pagbabago.
Katotohanan, kalayaan, katarungan.
Ay kayang makamit na walang dahas.
Basta’t magkaisa tayong lahat!

This song speaks again of freedom and unity. Unlike the other anthems though, unity is not an end in itself. It is a means to attaining freedom, truth, and justice.

Yet, is freedom all there is to it? What about progress, what about collective growth, what about redistributive justice?

Also, the song is aimed at preaching to the outsiders, to those fighting and struggling for their own countries’ liberation. Pang-kami ang pananaw ng awit, hindi pantayo, kung gagamitin ang mga terminong pinanukala ng historyang/mananalaysay na si Dr. Zeus Salazar.

A new anthem

The songs cited talk about unity and freedom and how the country has yearned for it. But it does not detail how each Filipino can attain them. Except of course “Lupang Hinirang”, which prescribes dying for the Philippines, which if taken to the extreme, would become a nation of silence and gravestones.

“Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo” points to the right direction: unity as the road to freedom. But where does freedom lead? The new anthem must point out to that goal.

With these in mind, this is my proposal. To stress the unity aspect, it should be translated to all Philippine languages, and the law should allow it to be sung in the mother tongue of its singers. We are a country of diversity – and after all, there can be unity in diversity.

It is simplistic, yes, but not all symbols need to be metaphorical. The point is – they should not be, lest their message is lost to the ages.

(The song is not set to any music. I find Lupang Hinirang too fast. Perhaps someone skilled in such may provide them.)

Kalayaan ipaglaban

Gamit pagkakaisa

Ialay ang ating buhay

Dugo man o pagsisikap

Pag-unlad isulong natin

Kadilima’y pawiin

Buong tapang ipaglaban

Ang hangad na ginhawa

Para sa isa’t isa!

Para sa bayan!

This post is open to criticism, comments, and suggestions.

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