top of page

Pray vs Pray

I remember when an esteemed senator suggested to change the last couple of lines of the national anthem. It was not long before the public was all over him. To the credit of the good senator, he did not insist further on the idea. The common public sentiment then was the lack of relevance and necessity of the proposition, especially in consideration of the nation’s more pressing social problems. If we think about it, would there be a time when lyrics of national poems would be the most important issue in the country over poverty, peace and order, or pollution? Maybe that would happen if some Bicolano strikes massive oil deposit that is enough for the government could afford not to collect tax. But then again, nations like Russia, Saudi Arabia or Brunei still have their share of social problems which are certainly more important than words in songs. Some nations even have national anthems without lyrics.

In the limited known contemporary vocabulary of Tagalog which some learned linguists have decided to label as “Filipino”, not many words have synonyms. There’s “maganda” and the uncommon “marikit”. There’s “daan” and “kalsada”. There’s ”silya” and “upuan”. We often get away with it by taking the words derived from Spanish as synonyms. It is rare that we have words like “dasal” and “dalangin” which are really synonymous. To the best of my knowledge and experience (and I believe, most Tagalog speakers would agree with me), the two words could be interchanged in usage. A person could use one or the other and not change the meaning of a statement even in the slightest bit

I never realized that the term, “dasal” is rooted in Spanish. For the longest time, it sounded and felt native. Is not the Spanish word for prayer, “oracion”, and the cat of praying is “orar”. “Dasal” seems to be a far cry from “oracion or “orar”. I try to say the words: dasal, oracion and orar to myself to get some connection, but I can’t seem to hear any significant similarity. Well, there’s the “a” sound. Dasal and oracion both have “s” sound, but then again, Castillean Spaniards would pronounce “c” as “th”, so that breaks the similarity. (This may sound trivial, but when a word is derived from another word, it would retain some sound of the original derivation as with tsuper from chauffeur, silya from silla, kabayo from caballo.) But if experts say the term, dasal is rooted in Spanish, okay. I’m not an expert. They say, the term, dasal is intertwined with Catholicism. Is it? I’m not Catholic. Never have I felt alienated, offended or uncomfortable with the term dasal . As a matter of fact, I would comfortably use the term in referring to my personal prayers and our church’s corporate prayers. Certainly, our congregation would not mind. But I guess if Muslim leaders embrace “dalangin” more than “dasal”. Okay. I suppose, it is more inclusive for other religious groups. They say, “dalangin” is more spiritual. Really? How so? Is the prayer which is supposedly rooted in Spanish and intertwined with Catholicism, less spiritual than the prayer that is rooted in native inhabitants in this group of islands that the Spaniards resolved to call “Philippines”. How does one word become more spiritual and less spiritual? Is there a gauge for level of spirituality? Since the change of term is based on the desire for inclusion, it intends to cater to people of different interpretations of spirituality. Therefore, the level of spirituality (if ever there is such a thing), would depend on each person’s understanding of what is spiritual. Then, what is more spiritual or less spiritual would be subjective and personal if not relative to religious group.

So, what now? Do school children have to learn the Panatang Makabayan again with the new single word? Do we have to stop playing videos or audio recordings of the pledge with “dasal”? Do we have to record new videos of the all-new Panatang Makabayan ? I suppose so. How does a teacher explain the change to the pupils? How does a teacher explain the significance and relevance of the change?

What bothers is me is the implication that this is the sort of thing that government people busy themselves with in their meetings in their offices. This is the sort of thing that they come up with as contribution to the total development of the nation. I suppose a change like this went through a series of deliberations. Did they spent time and resources over this?

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” -Ephesisans 5:15


bottom of page