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BLIND SPOT: Ang Mamatay nang Dahil sa iyo

I’ve been singing the line, “Bayang magiliw” since the time I had been wearing blue short pants, standing on a file of my classmates, but never really grasped what the ‘magiliw’ means. The root word, “giliw” is used as a term of endearment in love songs, so maybe it means “love”. If so, “magiliw” could mean lovely. (I guess.) But when I hear the word being used in conversation in rare occasions, by context, it seems that the word denotes cheerfulness or a happy disposition. Oh well.

The lyrics to “Lupang Hinirang” as we know it today is a version revised by Felipe Padilla de León. This version which is in Tagalog have been confirmed by Republic Act No. 8491 (the “Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines”) in 1998, abandoning use of both the Spanish and English versions.(Yes, my dear millennials, there are Spanish and English versions. In fact, the original poem by Jose Palma is in Spanish.). It had undergone minor revisions in the 1960s. The Tagalog version, “Lupang Hinirang” was first sung on May 26, 1956; as brought about by a commission formed by Education Secretary Gregorio Hernández, during the term of President Ramon Magsaysay. ( So, if you’re very concerned with the sanctity of the national anthem and due reverence to the lyricist, the Philippine government had actually authorized its revisions; and yes, there had been a number of revisions.

“The national anthem, like other national symbols of a country, represents the tradition, history, and beliefs of a nation and its people. Hence, it helps evoke feelings of patriotism among the country’s citizens and reminds them of their nation’s glory, beauty, and rich heritage. It also helps unite the citizens of the country by one single song or music. During the performance of the national anthem, citizens of a nation, despite their ethnic differences, rise up in unison and listen attentively or sing the song with great enthusiasm. “ ( On the other hand, some people would consider it a nuisance when they had to stop when it plays in the middle of traffic on Ocampo St., between the two naga Central Schools, or you have to put your popcorn aside before a movie starts, and interrupt your comfortable reclining position. Some Filipinos would continue walking. Some would stay seated, waiting for the movie to start. Yet, some patriots would be indignant when witnessing such behavior. That’s Filipino patriotism. Hey, are you aware that many years back, the local congregation of a Christian sect petitioned the courts that their members not be required to pay respect to the Philippine flag, and I suppose that includes the national anthem, in the belief that such reverence is only rightful to God. To each his own. Well, they were granted their requested excuse. So, don’t get too surprised if someone would confidently disregard the flag or the national anthem.

Come on, let’s cut some slack for Tito Sen. The Senate President has already “conceded on his suggestion of changing the last line of the Philippine national anthem after drawing flak from those who oppose it.” In an interview, Malacañang spokesman Harry Roque (which if I may just intersect, is a refreshing replacement for Martin Andanar) expressed respect for Congress’ prerogative regarding the matter, but exhibited obvious irritation when he said something like, “Grabe pang matitinding problema…”, which was echoed by many Filipinos. Renowned Filipino ethnic musician, Joey Ayala agreed with Sen. Sotto in the need for a more positive final lines of the national anthem. ( ) Yes, I, you and we’ll all say it’s downright unnecessary, especially now, that prices of carrots and sayote are shooting up in unbelievable heights. But they revised the song lyric in Ramon Magsaysay’s time, and several times in the 60s. So how is it any different today? My guess is that during those times, Filipino identity was in the process in coming to terms of its own in distinguishing itself from Spanish and American influences. But today, “Lupang Hinirang” has long been cemented on Filipino character that suggestions on its revision almost seemed sacrilegious, (despite the indifference and unwillingness to suspend the hurried walking or the body weight in the refusal to stand when the anthem is played.)

Begging to differ from the shared sentiments of the Senate President and the celebrated musician from Davao, the final line, “ang mamatay nang dahil sa iyo” echoes the true struggle of the Filipino across history. Negative it may seem, but it raises in dignity the valor of Filipino freedom fighters who fearlessly stared death in the eyes in daring defiance, all for the love of this country which they stubbornly could not get out from under foreign flags. Come on, Filipinos, long before they were called Filipinos have been dying for these islands since the 16th century, and in all honesty, none of their deaths were really successful in achieving their intended ends. Admit it or not, independence was handed to the Philippines by the Americans after some schooling, not through heroic deaths. “Ang mamatay nang dahil sa iyo” summarizes the Filipino freedom fighters’ struggles, great sacrifices which I believe should inspire the Filipino in this present age, to burn with this same fervor, even if efforts come unrewarded.

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord”

Psalm 33:12

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