MUSIC REVIEW: Joey Ayala’s Rendition of “Lupang Hinirang”

At a recent TEDxDiliman event, Mr. Joey Ayala “tampered” with the Philippine national anthem, intendedly instructing people on how it should be sung. I remember praises flooding my Facebook feed when the video was posted last week. But of course, there are those who do not favor the “illegal act”. I’m one of those who didn’t like his rendition much, and I would like to share the reasons why.

 The anthem should be sung with a fighting spirit.

We are swaying… malalambot tayo… mga bading tayo.

Joey Ayala

We’re soft, we’re gays, according to Mr. Ayala; the national anthem should be in a kundiman style because Filipinos are not “a 1, 2, 3, 4 people” and are “non-confrontational”. Really, now… There’s a reason why the anthem is in a marching style: to impress on someone to walk forward, to move forward against the enemy—it’s meant to inspire, not to give up when oppressed! Our anthem would fail to demonstrate a fighting spirit if it’s nakapanlata, ‘di ba, pare?

The Philippine anthem can be sung with clarity despite being 4/4.

Dilagang’… ano ‘yon? Ulam?

Joey Ayala

Another flaw in the anthem that Mr. Ayala tries to point out is the improper syllabification of certain words. But I for one have no problem clearly uttering “dagat” and “at”, or “dilag” and “ang”. One with normal speech abilities does not want to (not cannot) pronounce these words correctly if s/he fails to do so; it is possible when accurate enunciation is given enough attention.

But what about the word “tagumpay”? Clearly that word is mispronounced with the marching beat of “Lupang Hinirang” and Ayala is right Suuuure. So was it a downside in trying to lay words translated from the Spanish to incidental music? Well, does it matter? The problem with Mr. Ayala’s criticism is it would only be cogent if at the time the national anthem was composed the Filipino language already had a fixed accent. However, “tagumpay” was a Tagalog word (the dialect of the Taga-ilog); whether the songwriter neglected provincial accent or not doesn’t matter. What matters is he attained national solidarity in his piece. Period.

The last line is relevant.

Dapat positibo.
Pwede namang ‘ang magpayaman ng dahil sa’yo’!”

Joey Ayala

According to Ayala, the last line of the Philippine anthem is rather disturbing. But what kind of national anthem would “Lupang Hinirang” be if it weren’t patriotic? Unworthy, I presume. A national anthem should have a sacrificial flavor, evoking and praising the history, traditions, and struggles of the Filipino people; it should have an appeal for commitment to national freedom—for heroism, and heroism in the deepest sense is martyrdom. Ayala wants to substitute “magmahal” for “mamatay”, but this replacement wouldn’t be beyond awkward and pitifully out of context, it would also cancel the declaration of battle (which “mamatay” so distinctly coveys) that must be emphasized when the people are facing external threat. It would destroy the very essence of the anthem. Furthermore, “ang mamatay ng dahil sa’yo” is related to other war words and phrases mentioned in the song such as “magiting”, “manlulupig”, and “’di pasisiil”, and wraps up the song perfectly.

Decades have passed no Filipino has dared change the concept of the last line. The form may change when translated to other dialects and languages, but the meaning remains the same (e.g., Tagalog [World war II]: Aming bangkay ang siyang hahadlang/Kon mamatay man sa ngalan mo; Cebuano: Ang kamatayon sa ngalan mo; Hiligaynon: Ang mapatay nahanungod sa im; Bicolano: An buhay mi si-mo idusay; Panggasinan: Diad akualan mo muet akuen day patey; English: To die for you). Naturally, failure to recognize the historical framework of the anthem leads one to misunderstand its meaning (as well as the aspirations of our forefathers). Our heroes and heroines literally gave up their lives for our freedom. Death is sweeter than bondage for slavery gives birth to all kinds of evils, such as forced labor and rape. To give up the greatest thing you have—your life—for something or someone is love, exactly what God demonstrated on the Cross: “that while we were yet still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

If you would like to help the victims of Yolanda but doesn’t have much to spare, you may download my original song PAGBANGON on opm2go.com for only 20 pesos by clicking HERE. All proceeds will be given to GMA Kapuso Foundation.

No doubt, “Lupang Hinirang” is one of the best, if not already the best, national anthem. Its artistry is recognized even by other nations, and to change its poetic parallelism and metrical arrangements would ruin the anthem’s beauty.

How about you? What do you think of Mr. Joey Ayala’s rendition?
 Jashaél's Autograph
Jash Bagabaldo
Singer-Songwriter

November 21, 3013

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One response to “MUSIC REVIEW: Joey Ayala’s Rendition of “Lupang Hinirang”

  1. Pingback: “I Got in the Top 100″: Why I Didn’t Enter Philpop 2014 | Jashaél·

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