Revolution, love and joy
Last week, there were tarps all over the UP Diliman campus announcing that it was “Linggo ng Parangal,” a week when we give out awards to students, faculty and staff. Also on the tarps were the words “Lualhati’t pagsinta.”
I was puzzled, wondering where those words came from and what they had to do with the awarding ceremonies we had scheduled, so I texted Prof. Jem Javier, the deputy director of our information office, asking for more information.
The reply came quickly: the words come from our national anthem, “Lupang Hinirang,” and was meant to convey the message that at UP, we should serve the university, and the nation, with love (pagsinta), moving toward goodness and “glory and splendor” (kaluwalhatian).
I smiled, slightly embarrassed at not remembering where the words came from, especially because I get to sing it almost daily with all the ceremonial events I have to attend.
National anthems are important, something taught to us early in life. It lingers, becoming embodied. We hear strains of the music and we stand alert, put our right hand over our heart, ready to sing out.
Yet, we tend to sing it from rote memory, and know so little about its history. There are many who still refer to the anthem as “Bayang Magiliw,” which are indeed the first two words of the song but not the title. Others know it correctly as “Lupang Hinirang” but translate it as “Beloved Land” when it should be “Chosen Land.”
I thought of giving more information about the anthem, both its music and its lyrics, to better understand “lualhati’t pagsinta” and what it has to do with service.
I’ll be concentrating on the final stanza and I know I’m going to sound like a theologian dissecting biblical verses but it’s important to reflect on how even national anthems are shaped by different historical circumstances. Take this as a lesson in the complexities of translation as well.
Spanish to English to Filipino
“Lupang Hinirang” was actually preceded by Julio Nakpil’s “Marangal na Dalit ng Katagulugan,” sang during the brief presidency of Andres Bonifacio, at the height of the Katipunan-led uprising against Spain. (A long footnote: “tagalog” was used by the Katipuneros as an alternative word to “indio,” used by the Spaniards, in a condescending way, to refer to the “natives.” “Filipino,” on the other hand, was still largely reserved at that time for Spaniards born in the Philippines.)
Under Emilio Aguinaldo, Bonifacio’s mortal enemy, a new anthem was commissioned, “Marcha Nacional Filipina” again by Nakpil. The music came first and Nakpil said it incorporated strains from the Spanish anthem “Marcha Real” (Royal March), the French anthem “La Marseillaise” and the march from the opera “Aida” by Giuseppe Verdi.
The lyrics came later from Jose Palma’s poem “Filipinas.” His brother Rafael Palma is better known, having served as a UP president and after whom “AS building” (Palma Hall) is named. Jose Palma was physically frail, dying of tuberculosis at the age of 27, but he went on the battlefield, serving the other soldiers with his music. His life seems to be the stuff for a play, or even a movie.
Sorry for the detour.
Back to Jose Palma’s lyrics, which were originally in Spanish but curiously, there is no reference to what we would call “lualhati’t pagsinta”: 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.
The Spanish lyrics were translated into English as the Philippine Hymn late during the American colonial period and somewhat departs from the original Spanish for the first line. A literal translation should read: “Land of bliss, of the sun and of loves, in your lap, life is sweet.” Camilo Osias, who translated the lyrics into English with an American, took liberties to render that line into: “Beautiful land of love, O land of light. In thine embrace ’tis rapture to lie.”
The last two lines are more faithful to the original Spanish: “But it is glory ever, when thou art wronged, for us, thy sons to suffer and die.” Note the added drama in the addition of suffering to dying.
Anything connected with nationalism and aspirations for independence was considered subversive during the American occupation so it’s not surprising the 19th-century anthem nearly went into oblivion, and did not have a translation in our language.
Ironically, it was during the Japanese occupation that a Filipino translation did appear, departing from the original Spanish: “Hayo’t magdiwang lahi kong minamahal, Iyong watawat ang siyang tanglaw; at kung sakaling ikaw ay muling pagbantaan,
aming bangkay ang siyang hahadlang.”
My loose translation: “Let’s celebrate, beloved race, your flag our torch, and if you are ever threatened again, our corpses shall be your barricades.” I did wonder if the song passed the Japanese censors because it was wartime, and so a call to offer one’s life was acceptable if in the context of the Philippines as part of Japan’s Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere, which is what they called their wartime empire. A clue is the reference to “threatened again” which I am sure is a reference to how we were colonized by the Spaniards, then the Americans … never mind that the Japanese had invaded us, too.
After we regained our independence in 1946, a new Filipino translation appeared with the title “O Sintang Lupa”; now, this does mean “Beloved Land.” Here is the last stanza revised: “Sa iyo lupa ng ligaya’t pagsinta, tamis mabuhay na yakap mo, datapwa’t langit ding kung ikaw ay apihin, ay mamamatay ng dahil sa iyo.” There we have “ligaya’t pagsinta,” which expands dichas (bliss) to joy (ligaya) and love (pagsinta) and now uses langit (the heavens) to describe a sublime joy that comes with dying for one’s country.
Modifications were made in the 1950s and 1960s to produce
“Lupang Hinirang,” which was legislated as our national anthem in 1998. The last stanza now reads: “Lupa ng araw, ng luwalhati’t pagsinta. Buhay ay langit sa piling mo; Aming ligaya na pag may mang-aapi; Ang mamatay nang dahil sa iyo.” Again my translation: the land of the sun, of joy (as luwalhati) and love. Life is “heaven” in your arms. Our joy (as ligaya) comes if, when oppressed, we die for you.
Heavy stuff, right? But look at how two words for joy, ligaya and luwalhati, came up in different versions, while the Spanish original only had dichas, to mean a blissful state. Could it have been the revolutionary fervor of the Katipunan dominating above all else?
Thinking about it though, Jose Palma’s original poem already described the Philippines as a land of bliss, and of the sun and of love (or, he used amores, loves).
On Friday I will write more about that element of joy, ligaya and luwalhati, as it relates to loving … and serving. For now, I just want to underscore what the Katipuneros seemed to know: Revolutions can’t be all grim and determined.
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