Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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Love, joy, service

Last Wednesday I wrote about the last stanza of our national anthem “Lupang Hinirang,” from which two words had been chosen as the theme of UP Diliman’s “Linggo ng Parangal,” a week during which we hand awards to faculty, students and staff for various achievements.

Reading that column, I realized how obsessed I might have seemed, looking not only at how the national anthem has evolved but also at the Spanish original and its English and Filipino translations. But that’s the way academicians work, and I want to show today what all that work can do, in practical terms.

The two words that sparked all this discussion were “Lualhati’t pagsinta,” and as a starter for today, let’s review the four versions of the national anthem:

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The original lyrics, by Jose Palma, written in 1899: “Tierra de dichas, del sol y amores, En tu regazo dulce es vivir. Es una Gloria para tus hijos, Cuando te ofenden, por ti morir.”

An English version by Camilo Osias, late 1930s: “Beautiful land of love, o land of light. In thine embrace ’tis rapture to lie. But it is glory ever, when thou art wronged, for us thy sons to suffer and die.”

I’m skipping the first Tagalog translation, ironically done during the Japanese Occupation, and moving on to this post-World War II version: “Sa iyo Lupa ng ligaya’t pagsinta, tamis mabuhay na yakap mo, datapwa’t langit ding kung ikaw ay apihin, ay mamamatay nang dahil sa iyo.”

Finally, we have today’s official anthem: “Lupa ng araw, ng lualhati’t pagsinta. Buhay ay langit sa piling mo; aming ligaya na pag may mang-aapi, ang mamatay nang dahil sa iyo.”

Joyful, romantic

As I noted last Wednesday, “lualhati” does not appear in the early versions, but we find that even in the original Spanish version, there is reference to bliss (dichas) and love (amores).  There is, too, the sweetness of life and gloria, the glory of dying for the country.

We find, in the first Tagalog translation “ligaya’t pagsinta,” which finally becomes “lualhati’t pagsinta,” but ligaya is used to describe the joy of defending the country.

“Lupang Hinirang” is a joyful piece, both in terms of music and lyrics. In grade school at Xavier, were Chinese is taught, we were exposed to “Lupang Hinirang” as well as “San Min Ju I,” the Taiwan anthem.  My father would joke about how “San Min Ju I” sounded like a funeral hymn, sung slowly and with very solemn lyrics. (It’s on YouTube.) He liked “Lupang Hinirang” much more, even if he never really understood the lyrics.

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“Lupang Hinirang” has ligaya and lualhati.  Ligaya comes closer to being merry, as in maligayang pasko (merry Christmas), still different from masaya, which is being happy.  But lualhati tops them all.  Prof. Jem Javier of the Diliman Information Office describes it as carrying “glory and splendor,” which is interesting because the original Spanish lyrics talk about gloria, a term that we use in many connotations for great joy, including, incidentally, the sexual.

Lualhati is the opposite of dalamhati.  Note how both terms use “hati,” which is Malay for the liver, the seat of emotions.  (Today, Malaysians and Indonesians use hati to refer to the heart as well.)  “Lual” is outside and “dalam” is inside.  Extreme sadness, then, comprises the emotions kept inside, emotions that consume the individual.  That’s why when someone dies, we make sure the bereaved relatives are always with people, and the wakes are almost festive, all to prevent dalamhati.

At the last awarding ceremony we had in UP Diliman, we gave one to fine arts professor and sculptor Rita Badilla-Gudiño for her “Pagluluwal” project, which uses childbirth as a metaphor for life.  Pagluluwal is the word for birthing.

Lualhati, then, refers to emotions that go outward or, more specifically, a joy that moves outward. Think of how it relates to so many needs in educational institutions.

We recently had a UP system workshop to deal with the psychosocial needs of our students, faculty and staff, which have become more difficult to deal with in our times. Last week I wrote a column, “Home alone,” talking about the irony of living in times where people might be surrounded by all kinds of gadgets in their homes, yet end up feeling so very alone. It is made worse by the way these new media are used as new forms of assault on other people. Unfortunately, academicians get caught here, thinking they excel when they use words to attack and hurt people.

The system workshop ended with a synthesis by Dr. Anselmo Tronco, head of psychiatry at UP’s Philippine General Hospital, who noted how the discussions suggest that we might want to transform UP into a university that upholds not just honor and excellence but also compassion.

To serve others

Our national anthem is not just joyful, but romantic. The original talks about our being a land of the sun, and of loves (yes, plural). The Filipino versions use “pagsinta,” to love.

There seems to be a deliberate choice of pagsinta, rather than pagmamahal.  Mahal is more generic, of lovers as well as all the other significant others in our lives, parents, teachers.  Pagsinta is more intimate, an intriguing choice.

In daily conversations, love of country translates as “pagmamahal sa bayan.” We would never say, even in theater, O Bayan, O Sinta!  But then, why shouldn’t we? It might help us to move from empty rhetoric and mindless singing of “Lupang Hinirang” to a deeper love of country and of fellow Filipinos that emphasizes, especially for leaders, serving others.

Love. Joy. Compassion. These are words we avoid in scholarly articles and exchanges. Too emotional, I was told when I was studying. Yet when scholars comment on other people’s work, in journals or through Facebook, there is no lack of emotions, including the vicious ones.

“Lupang Hinirang” teaches us to recognize the importance of love and joy in our daily lives. I thought of the retiring staff who we honored in a special ceremony, including people who had been with UP for more than 40 years, serving as cooks, waiters, or security personnel. They must have found joy, love and pride in what they did.

Lualhati is joy made ebullient by the love put in serving other people. That demands courage, too, and commitment, in the face of pressures to leave government service, to seek greener pastures. We stay because we are inspired by others, and because we continue to hope for better times.

From the 1970s onward, “Serve the people” was a clarion call in UP, borrowed from China. Through the years, it has become almost a cliché, an empty slogan. Perhaps it’s time to revive its spirit, rephrased so serving can be serving people, nature, the nation, whatever we believe in. Serve, with love and joy. Lualhati’t pagsinta.

mtan@inquirer.com.ph

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TAGS: Filipino songs, Lupang Hinirang, National Anthem
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