Lost in Translation? Here's the 'Lupang Hinirang' Explained, Phrase by Phrase
Gari Sy Rivera | June 11, 2020
Starting out as incidental song commissioned by President Emilio Aguinaldo for the Philippine Declaration of Independence from Spain in 1898, Lupang Hinirang has stood as the Philippine National Anthem that sings of the liberty and beauty of the country in metaphors and personification. Its composition was inspired by three musical pieces: an Italian opera song, and national anthems of France and Spain. Lupang Hinirang was first titled as “Marcha Filipina-Magdalo (Philippine-Magdalo March)" and later revised as "Marcha Nacional Filipina (Philippine National March)."
The lyrics to the national anthem were adapted from José Palma’s 1899 Spanish poem Filipinas, which were translated from Spanish to English in 1919, and English to Filipino from the 1940s until 1956 where the anthem was officially called Lupang Hinirang (yes, not Bayang Magiliw) for the first time.
Sung and honored by Filipinos over the decades, many may have forgotten its true message, the meaning behind the song, and each of its stanzas. Here’s a breakdown of the anthem and what we may understand and extract behind each line today.
“Bayang magiliw, perlas ng silanganan. Alab ng puso, sa dibdib mo’y buhay.” The first line of our anthem seems to describe the country and the spirit of its people. It describes the warmth of the Philippines, whether if it’s emanating from the hot tropical climate of the country or the hospitality of the Filipino people. Following the lyrics of “Perlas ng Silanganan” that literally honors the Philippines as the precious Pearl of the East, the fire and passion in the Filipinos’ hearts are expressed to live on within us, “Alab ng puso, sa dibdib mo’y buhay.”
“Lupang hinirang, Duyan ka ng magiting. Sa manlulupig, ‘di ka pasisiil.” The second stanza of the national anthem describes the reigning land of the Philippines as a hammock or shelter to its brave heroes who have tirelessly fought for the country’s freedom against its colonizers. The Filipinos have taken a stand to no longer be oppressed by any conquerors and to not have their motherland invaded, as represented in its lyrics, “Sa manlulupig, ‘di ka pasisiil.”
“Sa dagat at bundok, sa simoy at sa langit mong bughaw, may dilag ang tula at awit sa paglayang minamahal.” The freedom to speak or fight for the betterment of the country is highlighted here, an act that our heroic forefathers have undertaken to lead the Philippines into independence. The line describes the value and beauty of our words, whether written, spoken, or sung, within our seas, mountains, blue skies of breeze, and all throughout the nation, done out of the love for the country and nation.
“Ang kislap ng watawat mo’y tagumpay na nagniningning. Ang bituin at araw niya, kailan pa ma’y di magdidilim.” The Filipino triumph over conquerors is indicated, being able to wave the Philippine flag, shining with the light of victory. Neither darkness nor oppression shall overcome the stars and the sun in the Philippine skies, also seen on the Philippine flag, and the nation that lives beneath it. No longer shall the nation be kept in the dark, oppressed without power.
“Lupa ng araw, ng luwalhati’t pagsinta, buhay ay langit sa piling mo. Aming ligaya na ‘pag may mang-aapi ang mamatay nang dahil sa ‘yo.” To live in the land of the Philippine sun, glory and love would be heaven, as conveyed in the anthem’s climax. To lay our lives for the nation in the face of oppressors would be an honor for any Filipinos and to live and die for the country would be his or her greatest joy: this is the message it delivers.
The beauty and strength of our land, our nation, and our heroes shine in the Philippine national anthem, ultimately depicting how freedom is ours to continually protect, commemorate, and honor, along with the story of how we won our independence. The next time we place our hands on our chests and sing our anthem’s song, let us not let its lyrics simply escape our lips but acclaim our Philippines with full hearts and spirits.
""Bayang magiliw", handa, awit."