Zyrene's take on Lupang Hinirang

STAR BYTES - Butch Francisco -

Each and every fight of Manny Pacquiao in this decade has become such important event that there is now even a sideshow to it: Aside from the boxing match on the ring, Filipinos sit up and wait if the singer chosen by Manny to render the Philippine national anthem before the start of the first round will do justice to Lupang Hinirang.

For his fight with Antonio Margarito on Nov. 13 (Nov. 14 in Philippine time) in Dallas, Texas, the singer who will be judged by the Filipino people and the officials of the National Historical Institute (NHI) is newcomer Zyrene Parsad, who was third runner-up in last year‘s Are You the Next Big Star? contest on GMA 7.

The truth is, singing is Zyrene’s only second interest — next to hosting, that is (she can do both in time). Before she could even finish her Mass Communications (major in production) course at the Assumption, she already had the chance to host a show on cable. Immediately after wrapping up college, she also worked as reporter for NBN-4’s One Morning.

She seems destined, however, to become a singer — a talent she discovered she had as early four years old. Parents Alejandro and Arlene, fortunately, had faith in her singing talent that they made her train with Susana Pichay. At 13, she joined the Metropop Star Search and was one of the finalists. Today, she is a Viva Records talent and only last Sunday she launched her self-titled album, Zyrene.

The road to Dallas, Texas where she will sing the national anthem during the Pacquiao fight began only a few months ago. A family friend, Eric Pineda, Pacquiao’s manager and father of StarStruck winner Enzo Pineda, invited her to sing the national anthem during one investors’ night Pacquiao organized at the New World Hotel for the businessmen of Sarangani. The prized fighter obviously liked what he saw — and more importantly — what he heard when Zyrene opened the event with her rendition of Lupang Hinirang. The next thing she knew, she was in Congress (where Pacquiao holds office as a legislator) and was being sized up another time. Even Jinkee Pacquiao approved of her selection to sing the national anthem in Pacman’s forthcoming fight.

The succeeding weeks became very stressful for Zyrene. For the investors’ night, she had to practice singing Lupang Hinirang many times over because that was the first time she was rendering it before a huge crowd. At St. Paul Parañaque where she spent the grades and high school, she only got to sing the national anthem with the rest of her classmates. She therefore had to study its melody and lyrics prior to the investors’ night — without a clue that she would become destined for bigger things (she’d be viewed by millions in Dallas, Texas).

As part of her preparation, she went to the office of the NHI where she was given a CD and a book on how to sing the national anthem — the proper way.

Basically a march, Zyrene has to master the cadence on how the national anthem should be sung — in 55 seconds (that’s how fast it should be).

The NHI also suggested that it would be best for her to hold the microphone on her left hand — with the right hand on her chest. She was also taught how to hold the flag correctly, which actually does not concern her anymore, but she took all that in and appreciates the help extended by the NHI people to her.

Of course, Zyrene is aware that there is already a bill that had been filed to make sure the Philippine national anthem is not bastardized anymore and those who are unable to comply with it face a possible one to two years imprisonment and pay a P100,000 fine. The very thought of jail time is enough to make her shudder. But no way is she running away from the challenge. She will leave on Oct. 29 for the US and will pack with her a Pepsi Herrera Filipiniana dress in red with Swarovsky crystals.

The past several weeks had seen her starting her day singing the national anthem as soon as she gets out of bed. She sings it in the bathroom (I hope there’s no law against that) or at any chance she gets, especially while trapped in Metro Manila’s traffic. Before retiring at night, she sings it one last time to end her day — making sure that she isn’t lacking in practice.

Pasted on the walls of their Las Piñas home are sheets of paper that contain the lyrics of Lupang Hinirang — and those are positioned all over the house — to make sure she doesn’t forget any word or stanza of the Julian Felipe work. Last Thursday, she also sought out Ryan Cayabyab, who had generously volunteered to train her on the correct way of rendering the national anthem.

You cannot fault her for not preparing enough for this huge responsibility. In Dallas, Texas, Zyrene admits that she only has to deal with stage fright, but she plans to overcome that by praying — and praying hard. We’ve suggested to her to seek the intercession of Padre Pio and she plans to visit the saint’s Manila shrine near Eastwood anytime now.

Zyrene is praying not only for a successful rendition of the Philippine national anthem in Texas — and for the NHI and the public to approve of it (otherwise she gets it in the Internet). She is also fervently praying for Manny to win for at least two reasons 1.) That is part of her patriotism and 2.) In this country where people are superstitious and believe in good luck charms, the last thing she wants is for everyone to say that she jinxed the fight — knock on wood!

But I believe so much in Zyrene’s talent. And with all the preparations she’s been doing, she’ll be able to pull it off impressively. She also swears that she isn’t about to sing her lungs out during the performance (read: no birit). To begin with, her forte is acoustics jazz and it’s not her style to do a Mariah Carrey.

Of course, the much ado about the performance of the singer rendering the Lupang Hinirang piece in the fights of Pacquiao had become hysterical.

However, if there is something positive that has come out of this, it is the fact that finally we are giving our Philippine national anthem some attention. 










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