'Bayan Ko' has a long history

Posted at 06/24/10 10:17 AM

MANILA, Philippines - On the inauguration of President-elect Benigno Aquino III on June 30, the song "Bayan Ko" will be heard again. The song has been a staple in rallies and holds a special place in the hearts of the Aquinos and Filipinos throughout the generations.

The most popular rendition of the song is the one immortalized by Filipino folk music icon Freddie Aguilar.

However, not many people know that the song has been around even before World War II.

Jose Corazon de Jesus wrote the poem in the 1920s which Constancio de Guzman set to music.

The song has been part of the revolutions and struggles of Filipinos, even at the height of the Japanese Occupation during World War II.

"Imagine mo wala pa tayo, kinakanta na yun. Ginawa nilang warning kapag may dumadating na Hapon. Sinisipol nila sa mga baryo para alam ng mga guerilla, magtago na kayo," said Aguilar.

During the First Quarter Storm, student activists made it their anthem at protest activities.

Former President Ferdinand Marcos thus banned the airing of "Bayan Ko" on the airwaves during martial law, but this did not deter Aguilar to record a new version of the song.

At the wake of former Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr., father of President-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, Aquilar sang the song "Bayan Ko."

"Parang may tumama sa akin kuryente mula ulo hanggang paa. Ayan kinikilabutan ako. At pagkagaling ko sa burol ni Ninoy sa Times, hindi na ako marunong matakot," said Aguilar.

Since then, "Bayan Ko" has occupied a special place in the hearts of the Aquinos.

Singer Leah Navarro still remembers how people would sing the song with much fervor during the rallies of Cory Aquino against Marcos.

"Whenever we would sing the song, iba talaga. The words came to life," she said.

"Bayan Ko" was not only sung in protest rallies. The song was also sung during the inauguration of President Cory Aquino at Club Filipino.

And during the necrological rites for Cory last year, as the Filipino people condoled with the Aquino family, internationally acclaimed singer Lea Salonga gave a stirring rendition of the song.

On Wednesday next week, on President-elect Noynoy Aquino's inauguration, the Madrigal Singers will sing "Bayan Ko" to mark another momentous event in Philippine history.

According to Aguilar, no other lyric can compare to that of "Bayan Ko" as it has figured much in Philippine history. It has stirred the hearts of Filipinos to love their country, has been part of every unforgettable moment of the Aquino family, and can be sung by every Filipino committed to fight for the country. -- Report from Marie Lozano, ABS-CBN News