Keep coming back to Manila
VERBAL VARIETY - Annie Perez (The Freeman) - December 3, 2019 - 12:00am

Since I wasn't able to watch the opening of the Southeast Asian Games live, I opted for a replay. A few minutes in, I was in owe and in wonder at the rich beautiful culture that we had. I was cheering for the pintados who (to my understanding) represented the Visayas islands. It was a good show for those who wanted to appreciate progress of civilization in the Philippines. It was even an eye-opener to those who never believed that there was any civilization here before Spanish colonizers came.

Halfway through the show, I was already up on my feet lauding the participants and the athletes from other ASEAN countries. Until the Philippines made its grand entrance and then the background music changed. They were playing "Manila" by Hotdog. What, Manila? When did Manila represent the whole Philippines? I couldn't help but raise my eyebrow at the unpleasant song that was playing. What made it worse was looking at the Philippine athletes try to jive to it.

Yes, it may be a petty thing but I felt offended as a person from the Visayas. Don't get me wrong, I love Manila despite its horrendous traffic. It is only that the song doesn't represent the country. I would have hoped that the organizers went for a neutral-sounding song something like Bamboo's "NoyPi" or's "Filipino," both are cool, funky, upbeat and send a strong message. But an old song that only speaks of one fourth of the entire country, doesn't really represent the rest of the Philippines.

My mind is thinking this is Manila being Imperial Manila all over again. They are trying to maneuver everything into their own capacity because they are Manila. I wish they would give credit to where it’s due - to the people that make up the other islands in this beautiful country. Don't you get it? This is the reason why we don't move forward together as one into progress, because we think one region is better than the others.

I feel like we are being robbed of the glory of our nationality because it is all being focused on Manila and those in Luzon. But the reality is, those in the northern part of the country don't really contribute to the bulk of the development of the country. It’s the Visayas and Mindanao that makes the Philippines great, we just don't see it from a hindsight.

We can never take back the music that was played that day, but I hope this will be an eye-opener for the organizers to give justice to the other Filipinos living in this archipelago. Maybe during the closing ceremonies they will play something more meaningful. It should speak from the heart of every athlete, of every Filipino, that we can win as one. After all, isn't that the motto of the games? If we want to be counted as one, then go for symbols (music included) that speak for the whole. Come on, we can do better than this.

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