Friday, May 08, 2009

Waking Up Early and the National Anthem

By some reason, I woke up early today, earlier than my regular wake up time of 6:00 AM. I opened my eyes around 5:00 AM, somehow instantly feeling alert.

Of course at that time, most of the world is still asleep. My kids were still snugly in their beds, sleeping the sleep of those who have no worries in life. With envy for their peaceful slumber, I decided to let them be and just look for other things to do to pass the time.

Unable to go back to sleep, I decided to turn on the television. Thank goodness for cable. I remember back in 1991, when my first born son was still a few months old and somehow chose to be awake during the unholy hours of the day, when I would be up at around 3:00 AM to take care of him. My wife and I took turns in caring for our baby, with me taking the 3:00 AM to 7:00 AM shift before I left the house for the day.

Back then, before the introduction of cable and 24 hour TV in the Philippines, being up at that time of the day gave you the feeling of being alive in a dead world, pretty much like Will Smith in I Am Legend. For those who lived at an earlier era, it would be like Charlton Heston in The Omega Man.

Going back to the present, I switched on the TV and flipped through the many channels (most of which I don’t watch but still pay for), not really watching anything in particular. I was really just passing the time, trying to get back to sleep. My wife was sleeping soundly so I didn’t want to wake her up. She needs it. When I feel asleep the night before, she was still working on something in her laptop, since she’s really a night person and usually goes to bed late.

As I was going for my Nth round of all the channels available in my Skycable account, I landed on one of the early morning shows on local TV. Pretty and handsome hosts all jolly and perky this early in the morning. I begin to wonder what their life must be like, probably waking up just a few hours after midnight, trudge to work and appear that energetic and pleasant. Hmmm….nope, I wouldn’t want their job.

Anyway, as expected, the show’s host started talking about Manny Pacquiao, since he was scheduled to arrive today. Along with the hype of his arrival are peripheral stories, one of which is Martin Nievera’s controversial singing of the Philippine National Anthem.

Indeed, it sparked a debate on whether or not what he did was right or wrong. Of course, if we consider the law, it was wrong. But some say the singer was just exercising his artistic right to perform the anthem in his own interpretation. Whatever.

As far as I’m concerned, I love the national anthem in the tempo and melody which Julian Felipe intended it to be. It evokes a spirit of nationalism and pride in me whenever I hear the Lupang Hinirang in the tempo of a march, especially if it is played by a marching band.

In the same manner that I am excited in hearing Bizarre Love Triangle as performed by New Order, the original performer, rather than the one performed by Frente, the remake, I am stirred more in hearing the Lupang Hinirang in the original, martial tempo than the other versions that I have heard it performed.

I do not see the point of singing the national anthem in any other manner than the one Julian Felipe intended it to be. To me, it’s like singing the funeral song in disco beat. It’s simply not what it’s supposed to be. For me, the lyrics of the national anthem is appropriately matched with the martial tempo, in that the song speaks about a nation’s pride and bravery. But that’s just me.

I do respect artists’ right of artistic expression. So I’m not pushing for Martin Nievera to be crucified. But there is a law and someone has the responsibility to impose it, which happens to be the National Historical Institute. And so they have spoken.

Going back to the morning show and Manny Pacquiao, the hosts continued to talk about the Lupang Hinirang brouhaha, and segue into a report on what Manny Pacquiao has to say about the controversy:

Reporter: “Manny, ano ang tingin mo sa kontrobersya tungkol sa pagkanta ni Martin Nievera ng Lupang Hinirang?”

Manny Pacquiao: “Ok lang naman. Tingin ko marami lang naiinggit at gustong pumapel kaya binatikos siya.”

I don’t know if Manny knows that it was the National Historical Institute which first raised the issue of how Martin Nievera sang the national anthem, but I doubt if officials at the NHI are envious of Martin Nievera and secretly wished they were the ones who performed that night in Las Vegas. Besides, isn’t it their duty to keep history intact and make sure that our heritage and culture is not mangled beyond recognition by pop culture?

(Sigh)…I switch the channel.

By the way, he’s running for congress.


Vic de Jesus said...

Nievera's sin is he sang badly

Many if not most Filipinos sing the national anthem badly.

Worse, they don't sing it at all with true feeling...if there's such
a thing. It won't be sane to hail every bad singer to court for thus breaking the law. We can't jail all 90 million Filipinos.

We're offended by Nievera's act because he sang badly. He tried to steal the scene by overreaching... and failed. We can forgive his stylistic approach under the rubric of artistic license. But his bad singing deserves condemnation.

Which is what he's getting.

Vicente Calibo de Jesus

Ruffy Biazon said...

I agree. His performance was one Simon Cowell would have torn apart.

baycas2 said...

Focus on the manner of singing was highlighted in MSM and blogs. How about this one…

For what purpose was the preview at Robinson’s Place Manila done?

"SEC. 38.The anthem shall not be played and sung for mere recreation,
amusement or entertainment purposes except on the following
(a) International competitions where the Philippines is the
host or has a representative;
(b) Local competitions;
(c) During the "signing off" and "signing on" of radio
broadcasting and television stations;
(d) Before the initial and last screening of films and before
the opening of theater performances; and
(e) Other occasions as may be allowed by the Institute.
(Emphasis mine.)

Martin’s pre-fight boastful promotion of his performance was even on print media last Saturday. Online edition here: