Sunday, May 3, 2009

That strange logo after Martin Nievera's version of the Philippine national anthem

Those of us who sat glued to the edge of our seats awaiting the Pacquiao-Hatton match on TV might have been caught off-guard by the logo that appeared after Martin Nievera sang his rendition of the Philippine national anthem at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas last May 2 (May 3, Philippine time).

Pictured above, the logo belongs to the National Historical Institute (NHI), an arm in the culture and development agenda of the government, whose mission includes promoting Philippine history and cultural heritage through research, dissemination, conservation, sites management and heraldry works. It is responsible for the conservation and preservation of the country's historical legacies, and includes among its tasks ensuring the proper use of the national anthem in accordance with Republic Act 8491 (Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines). I guess the logo simply indicates that Nievera's version is acceptable, unlike others including those sung in previous Pacquiao fights.

It will be recalled that Councilors in Davao raised their eyebrows after Sarah Geronimo sang the Lupang Hinirang before the November 2006 battle between Pacquiao and Erik Morales. The slow and kundiman-like rendition was seen as a bastardization of the national anthem, prompting Councilor Nilo Abellera to file a resolution reminding Davaoenos on the proper way of singing the song.

But Geronimo is not the only one to put her spin on the anthem. In the first Pacquiao-Morales fight (March 2005), and in the Pacquiao-Larios match (July 2006), Lani Misalucha and Bituin Escalante, respectively, also took liberties with the song. Meanwhile, in the January 2006 re-match between Pacquiao and Morales, Jennifer Bautista fell awkwardly off-key in the anthem's last lyric. And who could forget Christian Bautista's abbreviated version during the Gerry Penalosa vs. Bernabe Concepcion event in 2007? The string of events prodded NHI's Teodoro Atienza to remind Kyla (whom Pacquiao handpicked to interpret the Lupang Hinirang during the October 2007 rematch between Pacquiao and Marco Antonio Barrera) about the mandatories of singing the national song.

But what are these mandatories? R.A. 8491 specifies that the Lupang Hinirang "shall be in accordance with the musical arrangement and composition of Julian Felipe." This means the anthem should carry a brisk and martial mood and tempo; after all, the original music was intended to be a march in duple time (2/4 meter)--and thus the emotional kundiman approaches are deemed unfaithful to the original spirit of the song. If properly rendered, the anthem should sit comfortably between 53 to 60 seconds. It should also be sung in the national language regardless of where it is played. Apart from these, R.A. 8491 prohibits the performing of the anthem for mere recreation, amusement, or entertainment except for the following occasions:

1. International competitions where the Philippines is the host or has a representative;
2. Local competitions;
3. During the "signing on" and "signing off" of radio broadcasting and television stations; and
4. Before the initial and last screening of films and before the opening of theater performances.

So apparently the NHI prescreened and approved Nievera's rendition of the national anthem. Good for the artist as singers who do not follow the guidelines set for the use of the song can be fined P50,000 or be imprisoned for 1 year, or both. But whether I liked the version or not is a different story. For now, you be the judge:


Emilio said...

Good Bloog my friend!! Congratulations!!

good luck!! See you!

wongie said...

It is sad how artistic freedom is so compromised by people who have no sense of what art and culture is. I remember Lucio San Pedro's acappella arrangement of Lupang Hinirang which the Ateneo Glee Club always sung to perfection and literally always gave you goosebumps. This is now "against the law" because it opens with a slow dramatic build-up using the repeated first verse. How sick is this law and the people who try to enforce this anyway?