I find it rather strange that in all of Manny Pacquiao’s fights, not one of those who sang the “Lupang Hinirang” passed the standards of the National Historical Institute (NHI). It is a sad fact, indeed, that the NHI criticisms have always dampened what otherwise should be an undiluted national celebration of a Pacquiao victory. On the other hand, I still have to hear of any American, Mexican or Briton airing any comment, good or bad, on how their respective anthems had been rendered by different artists, each one of whom, common sense simply dictates, must surely have his or her own singing style and interpretation. Aren’t we becoming extremely, and unduly, puritanical in this respect?
Of course, the NHI takes refuge under Republic Act 8491, which provides that “the rendition of the National Anthem, whether played or sung, shall be in accordance with the musical arrangement and composition of Julian Felipe.” RA 8491 punishes the failure or refusal to observe such provision with public censure, as well as with one-year imprisonment or P5,000-fine, or both, at the discretion of the court. (Inquirer, 5/03/09).
Unfortunately, the sheer mention of that law only inevitably brings to worldwide rebuke another of this country’s many “national embarrassments,” to wit: our propensity to make laws that we cannot implement. Why? Simply because practically all the artists who sang the “Lupang Hinirang” in Pacquiao fights before Nievera did not follow the original musical composition and arrangement of Felipe; yet not one of them has ever been formally indicted. Also, that perception is not only highly debatable; even the NHI has not actually demonstrated how the anthem is to be perfectly sung. Neither did our grade school teachers teach it to us as they did English or Arithmetic. Let’s admit, we all learned our national anthem essentially “a la oido.” And so, we would probably have to resurrect Felipe to sing and record it in a diskette, or to have graduates of the Conservatory of Music to correctly interpret it, if we are to implement RA 8491 to the letter.
I am not a musician, but methinks none of the artists who had sung the “Lupang Hinirang” in past Pacquiao fights may be said to have maligned the spirit of patriotism that it connotes. Comparatively, the harm done, if any, is not as much as the Church might have “murdered” the originality of the “Ama Namin” by re-inventing that prayer in as many tunes and variations as we have parishes.
Alack, to such extent that, if similarly done to “Silent Night,” for example, we would no longer feel the coming Christmas when that song begins to fill the air as early as September. But that is entirely another matter.
—RUDY L. CORONEL,
I’m not a big fan of Valentine’s Day, to be honest. And when it comes to music, the typical Pinoy tendency towards saccharine sentimentality somehow manages to get kicked up a notch (in Spinal Tap terms, it goes up to 11) during this season of pink candy hearts and overpriced flowers.
Luckily, an article by Edwin Sallan —entitled “Can’t Stand Losing You”—reminded me that there should be more to this day, music-wise, than the usual sappy crap. “With so much great music out there, do you really want to be humming along to the greatest hits of Michael Bolton and Celine Dion at this time every year?” he asks, before listing fourteen songs as “alternative soundtracks for Valentine’s Day.”
Here’s my alternative soundtrack for Valentine’s Day—nine songs, instead of fourteen. I’d like to claim it’s a play on the Michael Winterbottom movie of the same name, or a play on the year we’re in (nine songs for 2009), but really, it’s just because I’m frakkin’ lazy. Besides, I hated that movie.
1. Paper Moon. “What Are You Going To Do With Me?”
Not being a teenager any more, I should be immune to this song’s charms: the ostensibly shy but actually forward female persona, the giddy guitar lines and perky bloops and beeps, the sha-la-la’s, that does-he-or-doesn’t-he vibe of maybe-love that pop-rock can capture so well. Needless to say, it charms me anyway. And I love the line “I can give you a clue if you give me a try.”
2. Dinosaur Jr. “I Live For That Look.”
J Mascis sings like a wounded weasel and his lyrics kind of stumble all over themselves like drunks, but his awesome guitar growl and pop chops cannot be denied. He has never sounded more happy-hopeful than on this song, which I kind of assume is a love song (“Hey, I live for that look”), but as with any Dinosaur Jr. track, it’s a little hard to tell.
3. Bagetsafonik. “Clarity (Remix by N:ua).”
“I’ll be your guiding star.” A beautiful electronic reimagining of an already-strong song. Dreamlike yet sharp, touching but not cloying, I listened to this over and over last year and I’m still loving it. (You can get the whole Travel Agents remix album at http://qed.acid42.bluechronicles.net).
4. Colin Blunstone. “Say You Don’t Mind.”
A simple, sweet, strings-driven thing, from the solo career of a member of The Zombies. Sounds remarkably fresh, especially considering that it came out before I was even born. And that, you know, it was sung by a Zombie.
5. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. “(I’ll Love You) Till The End Of The World.”
“It was a miracle I even got outta Longwood alive,/ This town fulla men with big mouths and no guts,/ I mean, if you can just picture it,/ The whole third floor of the hotel gutted by the blast,/ And the street below showered in shards of broken glass,/ And all the drunks pourin’ outta the dance halls,/ Starin’ up at the smoke and the flames,/ And the blind pencil seller wavin’ his stick,/ Shoutin’ for his dog that lay dead on the side of the road.” It doesn’t sound like a love song, does it? It sounds like an apocalyptic freakout, is what it sounds like. But believe me, this is one of the most romantic numbers on this list, especially when Nick Cave hits the chorus with his deep dark gravedigger voice. Thank you, girl.
6. Aztec Camera. “The Gentle Kind.”
My love for Aztec Camera marks me forever as a child of the 80s. “Somewhere In My Heart,” horn-blasts and all, is the usual favorite, but I prefer this one, from the Stray album —a little quieter but no less catchy, with simple, sincere sentiments that have not diminished over the years. “Took my hand, said nothing much/ No lesson learned, just a gentle touch/ And I am coming round,/ I am coming round again.”
7. Pet Shop Boys. “Liberation.”
The Pet Shop Boys are sometimes depicted as clever smirking songsmiths dripping with irony —this is largely because unlike most pop stars, they are genuinely intelligent (and yes, they do sometimes slip into that scathingy satirical mode once in a while). But they’ve also crafted some of the most straightforward, quietly joyous, heart-melting songs ever —like this one.
8. Ciudad. “Until It’s Cool.”
Sad words, soaring tune. Ciudad may have “abandoned their happy-happy-joy-joy way of writing songs” (according to their MySpace), but they have become the masters of sugarcoating the bitterness of failed love. You’ll be singing along to the heartbreak.
9. Blue Sky Black Death + Jean Grae. “Away With Me.”
“We could be forever, see whatever we make bloom/ Just afraid I could be playing out a replay tune.” Sweetly hypnotic, sexy yet sincere: this song’s a real killer. And for anyone out there who might still retain any doubts about hip-hop being able to strike you straight in the heart, just get a load of this. Jean Grae gives it to you straight — hopes and fears, love and tears. And it doesn’t get more direct than “What’s best for me never seems to ever be what’s next to me/ Exception: you.”
Drop by Mag:Net Katipunan tonight, February 14, at 8:30 if you want to catch singing, piano-playing sensation Isha perform songs for “14 Lovers.” Send questions and comments to Luis email@example.com.
Author: Luis katigbak