Exploring the Soundtrack of Philippine History
Today is the 123rd commemoration of the Philippines’ independence from Spain.
I just finished Manuel L. Quezon III’s inaugural podcast episode of The Explainer, reviving his old show that presented current events contextualized by history, which aired on the the ANC Channel from 2016–2018. The podcast was aptly timed to launch today, and the first episode allows us to remember independence day through a unique musical narrative; a deep dive into the patriotic soundtrack of the our country’s history.
I won’t spoil it for you but one of the highlights for me was the musical forensic case made by MLQIII on how Lupang Hinirang, our national anthem, was inspired (liberally) by sections of Spain’s own national anthem, the Marcha Real; the Grand March from Guissepe Verdi’s opera Aida (which incidentally is the dependable go-to for graduation marches in the Philippines); and La Marseillaise, the national anthem of France.
Other bits of TIL nuggets include renowned revolutionary composer and general, Julio Nakpil falling in love and marrying Andres Bonifacio’s widow, Gregoria de Jesús; and how American colonial racism towards filipinos was immortalized in song and on film by no less than the actor John Wayne.
Meanwhile, the episode inspired me to look up Veteranos de la Revolución (subtitled Marcha Patriotica), a compostion my great-grandfather, Daniel M. Fajardo; dedicated to the revolutionary leader, and eventual first president; Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo. In another independence day post two years ago, I wrote about my great-grandfather’s own revolutionary exploits; translating from his own account that my family had discovered.
READ: Daniel M. Fajardo, a Revolutionary in the Family
After the revolution, Fajardo eventually became a pioneer member of the famed Philippine Constabulary Band under Walter Howard Loving; becoming its Assistant Band Conductor from 1933–1939, and arranging Loving’s composition, Marcha de los Collectivistas; dedicated to Pres. Manuel L. Quezon in 1937.
I did find a good quality recording performed by the UP Symphonic Band which I am sharing below. I also found a scan of the original sheet music. The march was included in a 3-CD compilation called Saysay Himig: An Anthology of Transcultural Filipino Music (1880–1941); released by the UP College of Music in 1998, to commemorate the centennial of our country’s indepenedence.
Daniel Fajardo — Veteranos de la Revolución — Veterans of the Revolution
Rodney Ambat conducting the University of the Philippines Symphonic Band
Like MLQIII says in the title of his podcast episode, Time is Music, and just like time, history can be created, recorded, and measured through the background symphonies that accompany the great people and events, to whom we owe our here and now.
Mabuhay! Maligayang Araw ng Kalayaan!
Listen to Manolo Quezon’s podcasts here, follow him on Twitter as @mlq3, and subscribe to his newsletter at https://www.getrevue.co/profile/mlq.3