The unofficial national anthem of the Philippines

During general assembly at school this morning, we were made to sing Lupang Hinirang several times this morning until we got it right. This brought to mind the national anthem version of Joey Ayala which I saw and heard him perform at the Malasimbo Music and Arts Festival earlier this month.

The Lupang Hinirang was written in 1898 by Jose Palma, commissioned by Emilio Aguinaldo for use in the proclamation of Philippine independence by Spain. The last line, “ang mamatay nang dahil sa’yo”  [to die because of thee] reflects the strong anti-colonial sentiments of Filipinos at that time. Sentiments so strong that they were willing to die for independence. The Lupang Hinirang was written as a march and we still sing it in that rhythm.

English versions of the anthem were sung during the American occupation. I can guess most school children, as today, didn’t really know the meaning behind those big English words. Joey Ayala recalls that he and his classmates would jump for joy at the thought of burning with a fever (“with fervor burning”).

Joey Ayala’s version is unofficial, but one of the best I’ve heard. It’s in 6/8, 3/4 time measure, what is said to be the most natural rhythm of the islands. He took the time to correct the mispronunciations in the song (dagat, dilag, kislap, tagumpay, ligaya). He also changed the last line to something less morbid and traumatic for children attending their first day at school.

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