Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Filipinos To Be Fined For Singing Off-Tune Anthem

This is amusing:
"Philippine MPs have proposed a law against off-key singing of Lupang Hinirang (Beloved Land), the national anthem...

The Philippines' lower house voted 196-0 in favour of the measure on Monday...

The proposal has been put forward as the MPs felt that Filipino artists had been changing the anthem's military march melody and beat. The change in the anthem's tune was noted when it was sung at the boxing matches of Manny Pacquiao.
God I hate populism. You know how you can tell when something is nothing but populist claptrap? Because a governmental body will always vote 196-0 in favor of it... because no politician is stupid enough to get caught voting against something that, even though patently useless and unenforceable, makes all of their constituents feel either proud and patriotic, warm and fuzzy, or safe and secure.

You can't sing The Philippines national anthem out of tune? Even the little school kids every morning? (Oh buddy, you should hear them.)

Or does the law really state that you can't change the melody and beat? That's more likely.

Wikipedia says:
At present, the 1998 Republic Act (R.A.) 8491. (the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines) regulates the usage of the Philippine national anthem.

R.A. 8491 specifies that Lupang Hinirang "shall be in accordance with the musical arrangement and composition of Julian Felipe." However, when literally followed, this means that the national anthem should only be performed by a pianist or by a brass band, as these were the only versions that were produced by Julian Felipe. Moreover, because the original version was composed in duple time (i.e. in a time signature of 2/4) as compared to the present quadruple time (4/4), it is uncertain if this will either slow down or even double the music's speed, making it difficult for singers to keep up with the music. Regardless of this, the national anthem is still sung with the lyrics. R.A. 8491 also states that Lupang Hinirang "shall always be sung in the national language" regardless if performed inside or outside the Philippines, and specifies that the singing must be done with fervor.

But is it even constitutional to apply laws restricting the expression, usage, and arrangement of something that is almost certainly in the public domain? It's basically saying that artistic license is illegal. It most certainly raises some free speech issues.

It's absolutely a gray law... and gray laws always suck: With such a law, essentially anybody can be arrested for singing The Philippines national anthem. All somebody has to do is make the charge that a certain performance "wasn't in accordance with the orignal" or it wasn't sung with enough "fervor", and who could argue?

Somebody could be arrested because, being unable to hit the high notes, they moved their performance down a few keys. Somebody could be arrested for flubbing the lyrics. Somebody could be arrested for, yes, singing out of tune. Somebody most certainly (since it was the example Congress was specifically thinking of, as stated in the article) could be arrested for singing the national anthem too slowly.

The law also prohibits putting the flag of The Philippines on clothing... yet another dilly of a law considering that half of the T-Shirts sold to tourists promoting the Philippines have the flag on it. I think that all of my Eagle's shirts have the Flag Of The Philippines on them in some way, shape, or form.


Luc said...

When things go wrong in you're country, start the nationalistic tune and let your people march behing the flag. Next, blame the rest of the world.

WillyJ said...

You foreigners better not sing along with us, coz you are certain to mispronounce the words and be jailed for that too. :-)

If at all, this would jack up the talent fees of singers contracted to sing the anthem. Must be more than enough to pay fine or bail. But maybe from now on they should just play an old recording.