independence day philippines

Ang Laya Mo’y Babantayan: The History of the patriotic song, Pilipinas Kong Mahal

Not much could be gathered of the famous patriotic song, Pilipinas Kong Mahal. Sung in numerous state events and in Philippine flag ceremonies, it doesn’t invoke the usual unfeeling tune performed by marching bands. This was understandable because these songs were designed to rouse the fighting spirit and sound the call to arms. But Pilipinas Kong Mahal stands out. When one observes the tune, one could feel a tinge of sadness that wraps up in a powerful resolve to defend Pilipinas, redeemed at such a high cost.

*The raising of the Philippine flag at the Independence Flag Pole at Rizal Park, Manila (taken last June 11, 2017).

The song itself surprises us. Its inspiration is foreign, the song, aptly rooted from the Philippine colonial experience. It arose at the time when the Philippines was under American rule. By virtue of Act No. 1696 enacted by the American-led Philippine Commission on August 23, 1907, the display of the Philippine flag, and all symbols of the First Philippine Republic, including the Katipunan flags, emblems, and the Marcha Nacional Filipina (our national anthem) were strictly prohibited. Violators were fined, or imprisoned from 3 months to 5 years.

As part of the American apparatus of pacifying the islands, Prescott F. Jernegan, an American civics teacher at Philippine Normal School (now Philippine Normal University), composed a hymn to replace the Marcha Nacional Filipina with a national hymn entitled, “Philippines, My Philippines.” The hymn was inspired by “Maryland, My Maryland,” the official anthem of the U.S. State of Maryland. 

I love my own, my native land

Philippines, my Philippines

To thee I give my heart and hand

Philippines, my Philippines

The trees that crown thy mountains grand,

The seas that beat upon thy strand

Awake my heart to thy command,

Philippines, my Philippines


Ye islands of the Eastern sea

Philippines, my Philippines

Thy people we shall ever be

Philippines, my Philippines

Our fathers lived and died in thee

And soon shall come the day when we

Lie down with them at God’s decree

Philippines, My Philippines


Yet still beneath thy ardent sky

Philippines, my Philippines

More numerous sons shall live and die

Philippines, my Philippines

In them shall breathe the purpose high

The glorious day to bring more nigh

When all may sing without a sigh

Philippines, My Philippines

The anthem was included as part of the music textbook Philippine Progressive Music Series for the Primary Grades in 1914 and taught to Filipino children. Sources suggests it was quite similar to the Maryland anthem that inspired it, which in turn was inspired by O Tannenbaum, a German Christmas song. There was nothing wrong with the lyrics, but since it’s in English, and the feel of the music was American, there was a certain distance between the common Filipino and the song being sung.

In 1930, Filipino musical composer and the first Filipino director of the U.P. Conservatory of Music and known “Father of Kundiman,” Francisco Santiago, set out to compose the melody for Philippines, My Philippines. The music that came out, evoked the musical tradition of Kundiman (in ¾), the type of Tagalog music from the late 19th century that is characterized by sad, rhythmic and smooth undertones, it’s lyrics often fatalistic, often portraying a heartbroken lover willing to bear his all just to get the heart of an unreachable beautiful maiden. Kundiman comes from “Kung hindi man” (if it’s not meant to be) making it sad and beautiful. Santiago’s music was original and truly Filipino.

*“El Ciego” (The Blind Man) (1929) by Fernando Amorsolo

The exact date was lost to us in history but probably sometime in the post war years, poet Ildefonso Santos Sr., translated, shortened, and tweaked the lyrics. By this time, the song–music and lyrics– has transformed into a Filipino favorite. In effect, we have transformed something that was designed to subjugate us into something that became inherently ours. Since then, it has become part of the line up of patriotic songs in state ceremonies. Consider the simple lyrics that was sung up to the 70s. It begins with the cherishing of a country (“Ang bayan ko’y tanging ikaw…”) with a promise that our heart and life would be willingly offered to her without hesitation.

Ang bayan ko’y tanging ikaw

Pilipinas kong mahal

Ang aking puso’t buhay man

Sa iyo’y ibibigay

Tungkulin kong sinumpaan

Ang lagi kang paglingkuran

Ang laya mo’y isanggalang

Pilipinas kong hirang

Listen to the song HERE performed Philippine Constabulary Band and the Philippine Constabulary Choral Ensemble, circa 1970s. 

During the country’s experience under the scourge of dictatorship, the song further evolved, being sung among a host of other Filipino patriotic songs in massive protests that led to the EDSA People Power Revolution in 1986. There was a small addition to the lyrics, but the song became more powerful.

Ang bayan ko’y tanging ikaw,

Pilipinas kong mahal

Ang puso ko at buhay man

Sa iyo’y ibibigay

Tungkulin ko’y gagampanan

Na lagi kang paglingkuran

Ang laya mo’y babantayan

Pilipinas kong hirang

It is such a wonder that such a song with a few words could stir such emotion. I’ve wondered about it when I listened to it being sung and performed at yesterday’s Independence Day rites at Luneta and at Quirino Grandstand. 

The song captures the story of the nation that has, time and time again, brought itself up to its feet from the tyranny of the oppressor (whether foreign invader or dictators). Now that we have celebrated our 119th Independence Day, may we always cherish this freedom that was bought at a high price. Let us never belittle it or take it for granted. Let us guard it with our lives, as did the Filipinos who’ve gone before us.

Indeed, “Ang laya mo’y babantayan, Pilipinas kong hirang!”


Maligayang Araw ng Kalayaan sa ating lahat! (Photo taken at last night’s Philippine Independence Day Celebration, from the Manila Pavilion Hotel).

“Ang kislap ng watawat mo'y
Tagumpay na nagniningning;
Ang bituin at araw niya,
Kailan pa ma'y di magdidilim”

[“Thy banner dear to all our hearts
Its sun and stars alight,
Oh, never shall its shining fields
Be dimmed by tyrants might!”]

June 12, 1898- Philippine Declaration of Independence (Filipino: Pagpapahayag ng Kasarinlan ng Pilipinas)

Maraming salamat po![Thank you so much!] 


Huwag po nating kalimutan ang totoong dahilan kung bakit natin ito ipinagdiriwang….[Let us not forget the true reason as to why we celebrate this certain day…]


Maligayang Araw ng Kalayaan po sa inyong lahat![Happy Independence Day to you all!]
;;u;;

はたふってパレード フィリピン版
Cioccolatodorima (cover)
はたふってパレード フィリピン版

Since it’s Philippine Independence day here, I sang a Hatafutte Parade

English Translation:

In my right hand is LAMBANOG! INIHAW in my left!
Eating and Drinking in the festive Parade!
Towards the enchanted world, TARA NA!

A spinning world while we hold hands
 As long there’s MERIENDA, it’s okay!
 ASUL, PULA, PUTI, TATLONG BUTUIN, ‘SANG ARAW
While I’m alive there’s hope! He-ta-li-a

“AAA~ it’s great to sleep under the shade of the tree during afternoon~
I wonder what’s the MERIENDA? haaaa~
AHHH-AH, wait, wait! I’m going to be late!”

Come on, join the festive Parade~!
 Sound the band, let’s march!
 If everyone here unite on the same melody,
The one and only song is now complete

And among the RONDALLA is the Philippines!

“Ah! There’s surely beautiful maidens watching this!”

Every corner has a history
Let’s ride on a big KALESA
l fly to faraway places or ride on a beautiful VINTA~

(Hetalia
SIPAG AT TIYAGA!
SIPAG AT TIYAGA
!)

Sipag at Tiyaga 2x

 SIPAG AT TIYAGA! While I’m alive there’s hope!
 SIPAG AT TIYAGA! Do not frown, smile~
SIPAG AT TIYAGA! Do not worry, leave it to me~
Join the PIYESTA!

Let’s go, join the festive Parade~!
This melody is universal
In 5 continents and the 7 seas
With this energetic tempo, it will reach all!

This is the non-stop PIYESTA
 Release the joy~

“ Ah~ I wonder what food is prepared?”

ASUL, PULA, PUTI, TATLONG BUTUIN, 'SANG ARAW
While I’m alive there’s hope! He-ta-li-a

“Ahh~ That was fun… I’m tired~
Ahh! I should eat first before sleeping~ Yawn…
Let’s do it again tomorrow…”

___________________________________

Notes:
Lambanog- alcohol drink from coconuts 
Inihaw- barbeque (Chicken or Pork or anything) 
Rondalla- a string ensemble 
Merienda- Snack/ Light Meal
Kalesa- a horse-drawn carriage, widely used during Spanish Period. Still used in historical places
Vinta- a colourful boat 
Sipag at Tiyaga- Diligence and perseverance
Pag May Tiyaga May Nilaga- a saying that if you persevere, you will see great results
asul, pula, puti, tatlong butuin, 'sang araw- Blue, Red, White, 3 stars and a sun ( the Phil. Flag)

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NYC Philippines Independence Day Parade 2015

It’s that time of year again where the Pilipinx community across NY, the East Coast, and even some groups elsewhere in the states, come together and celebrate the annual NYC Philippines Independence Day Parade along Madison Ave.

For once this is the first year where either I wasn’t walking in the parade or had to leave the parade early to go to the stage area and take photos of family and friends who were asked to perform. It’s the first year where I simply just watched, enjoyed, and took photo’s and videos of the full parade and managing to find and see some friends both old and new.

There were representations of many ethnic groups and organizations participating in the parade from the Ivatan, Kalinga, Ilokano, Cebuano, Apayao, Maranao, Maguindanao, and of dances groups, activist groups, cultural organizations, high school and college clubs, and more.

However I will stop right here as I am saving the rest of my coverage of the parade to be read in the first issue of Kapwa Magazine being released in July. So if you want to read more on the parade and see more pictures look out for my story on the NYC Philippines Independence Day Parade, the history of it, and why despite celebrating our independence day, we are still struggling for true freedom today.

If you managed to see me today it was nice seeing and talking with you guys! And to the few people who recognized me during the parade it was nice getting a chance to meet you guys! :D

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“And holding up this flag of ours, I present it to the gentlemen here assembled…who solemnly swear to recognize and defend it unto the last drop of their blood.                           –Philippine Declaration of Independence

Maligayang ika-118 Araw ng Kalayaan! (Hunyo 12, 1898–Hunyo 12, 2016)