The national anthem’s “rape” by the Tagalogs commissioned by President Magsaysay

CEBUPEDIA - Clarence Paul Oaminal - The Freeman

Part 2

Our national anthem’s lyrics was originally written in 1899 as a poem entitled “Filipinas.” A year after the march, which was purely instrumental, was played on June 12, 1898 in Kawit, Cavite, it was translated into English in the 1920s by Camilo Osias assisted by A.L. Lane, an American woman.

Filipinos in the 1920s were singing our national anthem in English as we were under the Americans from 1898 up to 1946 (though we had our first elected president in the person of Manuel L. Quezon on September 16, 1935) our independence was unilaterally granted by the Americans on July 4, 1946. CEBUpedia quotes (for brevity) the first four and last four lines:

Land of the morning,

Child of the sun returning,

With fervor burning,

Thee do our souls adore.

Beautiful land of love, o land of light,

In thine embrace tis rapture to lie,

But it is glory ever, when thou are wronged,

For us, they sons to suffer and died.

The English translation had a closer translation of the lyrics of Jose Palma, yet it has not fully captured the spirit of the poem. This is understandable as the translators were never there to experience the burning desire of a nation to be finally free from foreign domination. The march entitled “Marcha Filipina Magdalo” was a battle march while the poem of Palma entitled “Filipinas” was the spirit molded into words of the birth of a nation, pledging to be eternally independent. It was in 1956 when President Magsaysay commissioned three Tagalogs to translate the poem of Jose Palma. Our nation’s blunder was abolishing the Spanish subject in our college curriculum as it allows the Filipinos to understand our past, as the purity of our history and heritage are written in Spanish text through the official records just like our national anthem.

President Magsaysay never had the chance to correct the translation by the Tagalogs he commissioned as he died in Cebu on March 17, 1957 in a plane crash at Gaas, Balamban. The Tagalog translators deviated from the spirit of the words of Jose Palma. Expectedly, this was the result as they were not warriors. Magsaysay’s effort to translate our anthem from Spanish to Tagalog was to appeal to the masses. It had the erroneous premise that Filipinos were not literate in English or Spanish. It divided the nation by choosing a language forced upon the people of the provinces that such is the superior and dominant language of the country. (To be continued)

vuukle comment


  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with