Changing of our flag and national anthem ill-timed

September 21, 2018

Amid all the problems our country is currently confronted with and at a time when we are grieving over the loss of so many lives -- even as many are still missing, believed to have been buried alive during the mudslide in Itogon, Benguet -- as a result of the onslaught of Typhoon Ompong, some lawmakers are bringing up issues like changing the lyrics of our national anthem or the design of our flag.

Senate President Tito Sotto III had suggested to change the last line of the ‘Lupang Hinirang’ from ‘ang mamatay nang dahil sa ’yo (to die for you)’ to ‘ang ipaglaban ang kalayaan mo (to fight for your freedom).’

On the other hand, Senator Richard Gordon wants to incorporate into the national anthem the line made famous by the late Senator Benig-no Aquino Jr. or ‘Ninoy’ Aquino: ‘The Filipino is worth dying for.’ 

He also proposes that from eight, the number of sun rays in the Philippine flag must be nine. While the eight rays represent the first provinces which revolted against Spain in the late 19th century, the ninth, according to him, will represent the Muslims who also fought against foreign invasion.

The last two lines of our national anthem goes, ‘aming ligaya na pag may mang-aapi, ang mamatay nang dahil sa ’yo.’ This means that as Filipinos, it would be our joy to give up our lives in defense of our country’s freedom. It is an expression of how far we are willing to go to defend our country and its sovereignty. That the ultimate sacrifice of death would give us joy if it would mean freedom for our country.

The last line was apparently meant to strike a patriotic note among us, Filipinos. Just like in a speech or a joke, it is the so-called ‘punch line’ so it has got to come on strong.

Using Ninoy’s famous line, as suggested by Sen. Gordon, has the same effect as the original lyrics. It is maybe worth pondering on why this line even became famous.

It’s simply because nothing is more patriotic than dying for one’s country.

Our elders of the past have put their heads together to come up with our national anthem and the design of our Philippine flag, taking into consideration the very events that led to our freedom and the conditions of the times then. We should maybe show the respect they deserve by leaving the national anthem and our flag alone.

Touching on the matter may even open the floodgates to a host of weird suggestions such as changing the tempo of the national anthem to pop or rap, just to make ‘Lupang Hinirang’ in keeping with the times.

As it is, several artists have come under fire for changing the tempo of our national anthem and for alerting or ‘playing’ with its tune. Some artists think that the national anthem is just like any other song that they can interpret the way they want.

Not because this is allowed in other countries like the United States, it means that the same can be done here, too. There are countless other songs to play around with, so why dwell on the national anthem which is expected to strike certain sensitive chords with many, if not majority, of Filipinos?

I don’t think this is gonna sit well with most of our countrymen, along with the proposals to change the lyrics of the national anthem and the design of the Philippine flag, specially during these times when the country is facing a host of other more pressing issues like inflation, surging prices of basic commodities and the ‘Ompong’ aftermath.

There is a time for everything. Simply put, the proposals just come at a ‘wrong
timing.’

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