School hymns and Mother Mary
I did not study at the University of the Philippines, although many of my friends did. But I love the school hymn “UP Beloved” (later “UP Naming Mahal”), composed by Nicanor Abelardo, arguably our greatest composer — although the admirers of Francisco Santiago might have something to say about that.
The anthem begins thus: “UP beloved, thou alma mater dear. For thee united, our joyful voices hear.” Later came the Tagalog version, in which the students and alumni vow to remain faithful to the school wherever they may wander: “… malayong lupain, amin mang marating, di rin magbabago ang damdamin.”
For me, grade school and high school were spent at Ateneo de Manila when it was an all-boys college and not the coed university it is now. By high school we were already committing to memory the untitled Graduation Hymn, although we were not yet graduates. Later the inspirational song would be played during NCAA then UAAP games; but I would not watch or altogether stayed away if the match was Ateneo versus La Salle (all that emotion gave me palpitations).
For some reason, I never learned the school hymn of the University of Santo Tomas, my second alma mater. I guess this comes with graduating after only three years, having obtained the required number of units due to three years of summer courses (my mother’s idea).
Reading, writing, and music have sustained me during this difficult period, the twin nightmare of COVID-19 and Dutertismo.
Here is our graduation hymn: “We stand on a hill between the earth and sky. Now all is still where Loyola’s colors fly. Our course is run and the setting sun ends Ateneo’s day. Eyes are dry at the last goodbye, this is the Ateneo way.
“Down from the hill and up the world go I, remembering still where the bright Blue Eagle flies. Through joys and tears, through the laughing years, we sing our battle song. Win or lose, it’s the school we choose. This is the place where we belong.”
This is the coda of the stirring hymn, whose lyrics were written by Fr. James Reuter, SJ: “Mary for you, for your white and blue. We pray you’ll keep us Mary constantly true. We pray you’ll keep us Mary faithful to you!”
We have been faithful to thee, Mother Mary, in our fashion. Keep this nation whole and true.
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Amadís Ma. Guerrero, 79, is a short-story writer, freelance journalist, and author who has been contributing to the Inquirer since 1992. The Erehwon Center for the Arts published last year his book “Philippine Social Realists.” Another art book, “SYM, Galicano and PASPI,” is underway.
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