Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lupang Hinirang

There is so much brouhaha over Arnel Pineda and other artists' version of Lupang Hinirang, which, has received so much flak. It goes without saying that Pineda, like some other artists in the past are about to be crucified, stoned to death, or left hanging out to dry this Lent.

Let's make a short review of the artistic versions and or performances of the Philippine National Anthem in Pacman's bouts.

The most interesting random post on Facebook as a blogger wonders is "Maybe Manny Pacquiao should ask someone from the National Historical Institute to sing 'Lupang Hinirang' in his next title bout. If it's still no good, then the pound-for-pound king should pound the offending singer to bits right there."

In the last bout of Pacquiao vs Clottey, it was Arnel Pineda's turn to sing with pride the Philippine National Anthem. But like his predecessors, Pineda, a Pinoy of the hit American rock band Journey had his own version.

Interestingly all of Pacquiao's fights had singers that wanted a shot at the national anthem as well. They had their own, ahem....artistic version so to put it.

1. Lani Misalucha (Pacquiao vs Morales I, March 19, 2005) one of the country's greatest divas migrated to the US a few years back. I bumped into her at the NAIA II airport, sans sunglasses and all that heavy make-up. I nearly did not recognize her as she was in jeans, a light jacket, and kids in tow. They were pushing some carts which looked like they were not going on vacation, but leaving the Philippines for good. And so her story as an immigrant to the land of plenty or milk and honey began. The only time I ever heard of hear again was that she was in LaLa land. Crooning in bars in Vegas. And yup, you said it - singing the national anthem for Pacquiao's greatest fight with Morales. It was the only fight that Pacman would lose before his successive fights of winning all other fights. After this bout, he would never turn back to losing a fight again. Sad to say, this was the last time Misalucha, Asia's nightingale songbird, would ever sing in the ring again. Her rendition of the anthem wherein she sang it too slow was such a bore that it would be a prelude to her career as well. And she would be soon forgotten...going...going...going...

2. Jennifer Bautista (Pacquiao vs Morales II, January 22, 2006) is (or was) an upcoming singer whom I cannot even recall. The last words of the song was given "vocal liberty" and she sang off key! Talk about hitting the high notes and her career hitting rock bottom after that!

3. Bituin Escalante (Pacquiao vs Larios, July 2, 2006) has the voice to belt out a song and her rendition of the song was akin to Jen Bautista. While Escalante did not sing off key, her rendition provided the problem of "artistic liberty" like her predecessors. And the road to a call for proper singing of the national anthem was being paved. Until the next Pacquiao fight.

4. Sarah Geronimo (Pacquiao vs. Morales III, November 18, 2006) sang the national anthem for the penultimate fight of Morales. Talk about masochism, Morales is one guy who needed the adrenaline rush of getting beaten up by Pacquiao twice in a year. And what better way to go down in history that have pop princess Sarah sing the anthem Kundiman (love-song) style!

Right after her performance, Davao City councilor Nilo Abellera went on a frenzy to file a resolution that the national anthem should be sung in accordance with the composition and arrangement of Julian Felipe, the anthem's original composer. Should the singer violate this rule would be fined P50,000.00 per performance.

5. Geneva Cruz (Pacquiao vs. Solis, April 14, 2007) erstwhile wife to Paco Arespacochaga, whom they have son Heaven, separated from him and shacked up eventually with KC Montero, gave a boring rendition of a slow and boring tune to the national anthem. Most of the critics thought that she was singing to the tune of a funeral march. This time, the National Historical Institute came out with their own statement that the anthem should sound like a "brisk march" and sung "with vigorous singing, a full-throated song that begins and closes in one minute."

6. Kyla (Pacquiao vs. Barrera II, October 6, 2007) is Melanie Calumpiad in real life. After hearing all the flak of her predecessors, the R & B princess vowed to sing the anthem the traditional way. She did not falter on her promise.

7. Ciara Sotto (Pacquiao vs Marquez II, March 15, 2008) comes from the Sotto showbiz clan. Parents Tito Sotto and Helen Gamboa must have been proud of her performance as she received great raves on her national anthem performance at Pacquiao's fight.

8. Nicole Angela Judalena (Pacquiao vs Diaz, June 28, 2008) is the youngest singer (and most unknown) at 17 years old who sang for a Pacquaio boxing match. She came in recommended by a friend of Manny P. Her rendition was one of the most heartfelt and genuine as it was as authentic as a national anthem could be.

9. Karylle (Pacquiao vs de la Hoya, December 6 2008) is the daughter of Zsa Zsa Padilla. Her thespian singing style was probably one of the reasons why she was handpicked for this performance. And while she may have the experience, she definitely showed her nervousness in the ring when she gave her rendition of the anthem. Nevertheless, she sung it the way it was supposed to be sung.

10. Martin Nievera (Pacquiao vs Hatton, May 2, 2009) is the ever popular recording artist husband of Pops Fernandez. A Fil-Am in reality, Nievera broke into the limelight of the Philippine media industry after being discovered in a singing stint in the US. His rendition of the national anthem received one of the worst reviews. Aside from being the only male artist in the stable of Pacquiao's pick of the lot to sing the national anthem, Nievera carries gazillion recording hits to his name - only to be maligned for giving one of the worst renditions under the guise of "artistic freedom". He sang the anthem like a ballad and then some - repeated the lines again and again. The last lines were worst! He changed the notes, only to show off to the crowd that he could hit the higher notes! He thought he was still a contestant to a singing contest giving his own rendition of the anthem. This was in stark contrast to Tom Jones singing the national anthem of England. This was not a Nievera-Jones singing match.

While Pacman and many other Filipino artists came to his defense, it was a losing bout for Martin. This is one round Pacman lost.

11. La Diva (Pacquiao vs Cotto, November 16, 2009) is a pop R & B all Pinay girl group composed of Jonalyn Viray, Aicelle Santos and Maricris Garcia. Of course, they come from the GMA Artist center where Pacman is also a mainstay in the stable of wannabe actors and actresses. And because the three girls have different ranges (alto, soprano and mezzo-soprano), there was premonition that they would show off each of their vocal abilities. Voila ! They changed the melody. And this stirred the hornet's nest after the Nievera fiasco. The National Historical Institute, however, was not as angry or bitter over their rendition as they were over Nievera.

Last but not the least is Pinoy superstar Arnel Pineda. The 42 year old Pineda was a surprise last pick over Charice Pempengco, both of whom were featured and discovered by Oprah and Ellen Degeneres. Charice was rumored to be the opening salvo of the Pacquiao-Clottey match held last March 14, 2010 in Texas. When Pineda opened his mouth to sing, the song was headed for a disaster. Pineda said he couldn't hear himself singing because there was too much noise around, and according to him, he was singing from the heart. Pineda's version had stirred the angry mob at the National Historical Institute and the politicos at home, including erstwhile DENR secretary and Pacman buddy Lito Atienza had scathing remarks ala Simon Cowell over Pineda's rendition of the national anthem. "It was not a rock concert nor a final song contest for American Idol".

What gets me is that while our artists claim "vocal liberties" at song renditions, the national anthem IS NOT some hot number that needs a vocal rendition or a make-over. It is a song that talks about the nation's pride. It is to be sung in a manner befit that of respect and dignity. Which is also why I can't get over the fact that these tone deaf fans are there to defend the artists rather than the song! It is not how melodramatic the song is sung, or how much heart is put into it, or how well we showcase the Filipino talent, but how the song should be sung because it is, after all, the Philippine National Anthem.

Once in a blue moon, we showcase to the world the Philippine National Anthem.

And sing with pride we must, even if it is a rowdy boxing match of a national boxing icon in the likes of Manny Pacquiao. Every time we raise that flag, we must rise to the occasion of respecting it, even if our government officials do not.

As a nation, we owe it to ourselves to make the statement that we are Filipinos.

And that we intend to make the world realize that there is one version, and one voice, and one tune to singing the Philippine National Anthem.

And this is our pride. It's all we have left.

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