Monday, November 18, 2013

Philippine National Anthem Joey Ayala Version

Photo from Inquirer
The Philippine National Anthem today wasn't made to be the song to stir patriotism in the hearts of every Filipino. Its lyrics came from the poet Jose Palma and the arrangement came from Julian Felipe. Neither was it intentionally put together to be the National Anthem as Julian Felipe created his marching music in 1898 while Jose Palma made his poem in Spanish during 1899. Through the years after the revolution, while we were forming our identity, the current version was ratified and used ever since.

There's a lot of fierceness, pride and passion in the words and music of our National Anthem. Even after so many years of singing and hearing it, the stir of patriotism is always being awakened. Or maybe that is just true to people who don't take the words of our anthem for granted. But at the very least, hearing the national anthem play or singing it makes Filipinos proud in one way or another.

Joey Ayala, the musician known for his music and lyric's deep roots to our culture, presented a few changes to how the Philippine National Anthem is sung. Well, he has been doing this, performing his version for quite a long time ago. But this time, it would gain a lot of attention, given the sentiment of all Filipinos because of the typhoon Yolanda. See the video below, it is somehow refreshing:

On a cultural stand point, many people don't agree with changing the word "mamatay" to "magmahal." First of all, the lyrics won't match. "...aming ligaya nang pag may mang-aapi, ang "mamatay" ng dahil sa iyo" is still perfect rather than "...aming ligaya nang pag may mang-aapi, ang "magmahal" ng dahil sa iyo."

Image from
Second, "magmahal" loses the poetic side of the anthem. In technical terms, to die for something is the ultimate expression of love. But it doesn't necessarily mean dying or giving up life. Sometimes it may just mean giving up something for a purpose. Bachelors give up their life for a woman he loves in marriage. A mother gives up sleep to nurture babies at night. A government teacher exchanges a career in the private sector to teach underprivileged children. A priest surrenders to celibacy to serve the laity. Sacrifice is an expression of love, and to sacrifice one's life is the ultimate expression of love.

Third, is the context of the line. To tell the people to love those who oppress is overwhelming. On a Christian point of view, yes, that might be a core value to work for but this one is prone to misinterpretation. Further arguments on this one will take a long time so let's just leave it as it is. Besides, with the current situation of corruption and the issues we're dealing with right now, encouraging to love the oppressive and corrupt people might not be a very good idea.

Photo by Jobaraccuda
Bottom line, Joey Ayala is one of the most admirable artist the Philippines had ever seen. His contributions in keeping ethnic Filipino music mainstream are immense. His intentions are good. And his rendition is ultimately logical and refreshing. For a change, yes it might work. To inspire, yes it feels good to listen. To fire up pride, nationalism, and the courage to fight...people may need more time to warm up to the idea.

Joey Ayala is correct when he performed during the TEDx Diliman, our music of love is rhythmically soft and non-confrontational. But love for the country may need a more stronger, passionate and upfront genre to send the message of urgency. We are always at war. At war with ourselves, with our survival, with the matters of everyday life. Perhaps someday when people have learned more about peace and love, when there's no need of calling to fight for our way of living or our freedom or the things that we hold dear, then many people may come to appreciate some changes in our National Anthem.

On a personal note though, his version is an awesome one. Somehow it just sounds right.