I have always enjoyed going to the movies, especially to watch foreign films. The latest Tagalog films with English titles are a complete turnoff. But I am not averse to watching a local movie for as long it is good and entertaining like “Oro, Plata, Mata.” The fact is, I have seen some indie films which I thought are worthy of my time. But that is not why I write today.
SM Clark in Angeles, Pampanga, has six theaters. After each intermission, the national anthem—“Lupang Hinirang”—is played, followed by the different trailers and the main feature.
I have been away for a few decades, and I am not aware if there have been any changes in the way we honor our flag and in the demeanor during the singing of our national anthem.
I remember when I was growing up: In public elementary schools, every morning before the school day started there was a flag ceremony—a singing of the national anthem and the recitation of the “Panatang Makabayan.” We sang and stood at attention, and if one wore a hat or a cap, it was removed.
I was therefore flabbergasted, annoyed and angry when I noticed some viewers, Filipinos and foreigners alike, did not stand up during the playing of the anthem. Some talked, some played with their phones, and some seemed they just did not care. I asked myself, “Why?”
Have we fostered a culture of indifference, if not disrespect? If Filipinos show a total disregard and disrespect for our anthem, should we expect differently from foreigners watching movies in our theaters?
This letter is not to indict SM, the schools, the parents or any establishment, this is to suggest solutions to stop the disrespect. In the case of the movie houses, they can flash a “Please stand up” sign on the screen in Filipino, English and Korean. The schools should educate their students on the proper demeanor whenever and wherever the national anthem is played. The parents should remind their children to stand at attention.
I hope the disrespect is a local phenomenon occurring only in Angeles.