The National Historical Institute said Sunday it was filing a complaint against Journey lead singer Arnel Pineda for changing the tone and tempo of the Philippine national anthem when he sang it before the Pacquiao-Clottey bout in Texas.
Pineda sang "Lupang Hinirang" (Beloved Land) during Pacquiao’s successful bout against Joshua Clottey of Ghana on Saturday (Sunday in Manila), his powerful, high-pitched voice filling the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
But Teddy Atienza, chief of the Heraldry Section of the NHI, was not pleased. A "24 Oras" report quoted him as saying that they would file a complaint against Pineda before the Department of Justice for his "wrong" version of the national anthem.
The NHI is the government body tasked to ensure respect for the national anthem, Philippine flag and other national symbols.
Under Section 37 of Republic Act 8491 or the Flag and Heraldic Code, the national anthem must be sung in accordance with the original musical arrangement of composer Julian Felipe, who gave it a marching tempo. Violators may be fined P5,000 to P20,000 or jailed for a year.
Pineda, for his part, defended his version, saying he had sung it with all his heart. He said he would ask his lawyer to deal with the complaint once it is filed.
Pineda, who rose to fame in 2007 when members of the US-based band discovered him on YouTube, belted out before a crowd of almost 51,000 boxing fans his somewhat slow rendition of "Lupang Hinirang."
The singer, wearing a brown long-sleeved polo with native prints, started well in the song but faltered when he tried to raise the pitch — a practice frowned upon by NHI — of the final part of the anthem. The crowd cheered nonetheless.
Cheers and jeers
"What happened to your voice and to the anthem?" asked a fan of the singer on his Facebook fan page.
"Ba’t iniba mo ‘yung [last notes] ng anthem (Why did you change the last notes of the anthem)?" asked another. "Parang malalagutan na ng hininga (You sounded like you were running out of breath)," still another said.
Some, however, praised Pineda for a job well done.
"Good job Arnel! Your patriotic rendition of ["Lupang Hinirang"] was awesome. You made me so proud to be Pinay," a fan said. "I love you Arnel Pineda. Beautiful anthem, beautiful voice," another said.
The institute has criticized a number of Filipino singers who had sung the Philippine national anthem in recent fights of Pacquiao for supposedly creating their own interpretation of the song.
Crooner Martin Nievera’s rendition of "Lupang Hinirang" in Pacquiao’s fight against British Ricky Hatton in May 2009 caused an uproar for its deviation from the prescribed musical arrangement.
Aside from Nievera, pop girl group "La Diva" also received a failing grade from the National Historical Institute for its version of the anthem during Pacquiao’s match with Puerto Rican Miguel Cotto in November 2009.
"I’m sure you guys will be proud," Pineda told GMA News before his fight with Clottey.
The NHI earlier noted that if properly sung with a two-fourths beat and 100 metronomes, the national anthem should last 53 seconds. Pineda’s version was 89 seconds long.
Among the singers reprimanded by the NHI for deviating from the song’s original form were Charice Pempengco, Jennifer Bautista and Christian Bautista. The latter is remembered for leaving out several lines of the anthem during a boxing match of Gerry Peñalosa in Muntinlupa in 2007.
All three singers have apologized, claiming they had not intended to change some notes.
Singers like Sarah Geronimo, Lani Misalucha and Kyla, whose versions of the anthem at different Pacquiao matches had lasted for over a minute, have also been criticized by the NHI for turning the national anthem into a ballad. — with Norman P. Aquino/KBK, GMANews.TV
I actually expected this to happen. When will Filipino artists learn? We just CAN'T sing the national anthem in whichever way we would want to sing it! There is a law that prescribes how we should sing it. Don't turn it into a ballad! "Lupang Hinirang" is not "Star Spangled Banner", for God's sake!