Sunday, May 10, 2009

Singing the Lupang Hinirang

I feel sorry for Martin Nievera. Considered one of this country's finest, he represented the country by singing the national anthem during Manny Pacquiao's momentous bout against Ricky Hatton. The match was well-publicized, and everybody looked forward to seeing it with unmatched anticipation.

He rendered the Philippine national anthem with a melody and arrangement so characteristic of him: you wouldn't mistake anyone else singing it.

But what should have been a matter of national pride turned into blatant criticisms of sorts. The National Historical Institute (NHI) pointed out that he did not sing Lupang Hinirang properly: it's a march and should be sung that way. Martin also ended with a higher, prolonged note. If you've been watching the news, you'll see the performance repeated time and again.

If not for this and the accusations that other singers in the past had faced, the public would not have been made aware of the existing law called RA 8491 (The Flag and Heraldic Code) which states that the national anthem must be sung according to the original specifications put forth by Julian Felipe, the composer.

Now charges are being pushed against Martin. The NHI has asked him to issue a public apology, but the singer refused, saying he meant no disrespect. Some lawmakers also expressed concern in amending the existing law: artists must be given some artistic freedom.

Clearly a violation has been committed, and a public apology seems more reasonable than a court hearing. But it makes no sense that the reactions towards the situation have been rather over-the-top. Why this fuss?

I say this in light of all the other violations that have been committed that did and still do not merit the proper punishment. For instance, were charges ever pressed and pursued against politicians who exceeded the television-time allotment during the campaign period of last elections? Why don't we hear protests of sorts against leaders who use public funds to make posters with their faces blown-up, bigger than the congratulatory messages they're supposed to give?

Martin's case must be treated with grace. It's best to move on—there are bigger issues to pursue. At least our singers now know better. Otherwise, by exaggerating the issue, we look as if, after more than a hundred years of independence, we still have insecurities about our national identity.

4 comments:

  1. I once sat near a little girl on a bus.
    Her rendition of the National Anthem was anything but "official". Rhythm was offbeat. Pitch was monotone. Lyrics were out of place.
    Should I sue her?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Precisely. The essence of that law is to protect the Anthem from possible abuse. But people these days are becoming too legalistic—kaksuhan agad.
    Kaya exercise grace in judgments, di ba? :D

    ReplyDelete
  3. Like butchering the anthem doesn't happen all the time...

    ReplyDelete

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