A stylisitical analysis of music from important moments in filipino history

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6 MAY 2005

Table of Contents


Introduction 1

History of the Philippines 3

History of Filipino Music 10



Bayan Ko – Constancio de Guzman 20

Pakiusap – Francisco Santiago 25

Folk Music

Anak – Freddie Aguilar 31

Ako’y Isang Pinoy – Florante de Leon 35

Conclusion 37


Appendix A 39

Musical Examples

Appendix B 40

Original Scores


Music in the Philippines is a force that is a strong, influential aspect of Filipino daily life. Well before the Spanish arrived, music had everyday uses. The music would vary from province to province, of course, but there were three main types: the lullaby, occupational songs, and occasional songs. Occupational songs were often heard in the rice fields, and used to pray for good fortune, to heal the ill, and pray for a good harvest. Occasional songs are associated with the cycle of life: birth, marriage, and death. However, because of colonization and the impact of the Spanish tradition, most of theses songs have disappeared.

Today, Filipinos turn to music mostly for entertainment. A good party revolves around a guitarist while the others sing along to either popular Filipino music or iconic American songs. Karaoke and karaoke bars have become a part of Philippine culture. Filipino television more than illustrates this. At any given moment, one can watch a variety show or vocal competition where young Filipino talents sing current American pop hits. Also, there is an influx of Filipino entertainers emigrating to Japan to boost their careers. Because of their ability to mimic American popular music, Filipino musicans are sought out all over Asia (Lockard, 133). This tradition of “copying” or using westernized genres stems from the arrival Spanish and the subsequent colonization of the Philippine Islands.

Although much indigenous music was virtually washed out because of three centuries under their colonial rule, the emotion and passion of the Filipino spirit in their music is still evident. The place where it is most obvious is in the works that were used to inspire revolution.

Filipinos would use songs to protest against Spanish colonial rule and later American occupation and the Marcos dictatorship. Many of these songs became anthems for revolutionary groups. The almost ironic aspect of these songs is that they are based on westernized forms of music. The belief is that it would be able to better reach the Filipino people since this type of music became so prevalent in culture and society. This thinking proves true in the examples highlighted in this paper.

Thus, this paper will illustrate how the Filipino people used westernized music forms, sometimes in combination with indigenous instrumentation and music, to circumvent censorship, to give a voice to Filipinos against colonialism and dictatorship, and to inspire revolution. Following this introduction will be a synopsis of the history of Filipinos under colonial and dictator rule and their revolutions, and the music that was most influential during these times.

Afterwards, the author will be doing a stylistical analysis of four pieces of music that best illustrate and represent the music during important revolutionary periods: The fight against Spanish colonial rule and American occupation, and the revolution overturning the Marcos administration. An analysis of the methods used by the composers to communicate the text and emotion of these pieces will create a better understanding of the reasons why they inspired a frustrated population to take to the streets in protest.

History of the Philippines

In 1521, the Spanish explorer Ferdinand Magellan, on a mission to circumnavigate the globe, arrived on the islands of the Philippines. His visit ended when a tribe leader, Lapu Lapu, decapitated him. This event would mark the bitter struggle that would come between the Filipino people and colonialists. Forty-four years later, another expedition from Spain would make itself to the islands.

Miguel Lopez de Legazpi’s arrival in 1562 was the first step towards the colonization of the Philippines, which would last three centuries. During this time, the Spanish would make Manila, capital of the Philippines today, an international port for the galleon trade between China and Mexico (Rodell, 11). The Catholic priests, in addition, would spread out to other cities to start religious conversion and building schools to teach European ideology to the “savage” indigenous people.

The main goal of the priests was to convert the Filipino people to Catholicism. By 1898, their goals would be met, as over 80% of the population was Catholic. However, not everyone was subject to this europeanization. Muslim populations in the south and isolated tribes in mountainous areas were not affected, but these groups would not make any real efforts to challenge the Spanish.

From the 17th to 19th centuries, tension continually rose between natives and colonials. One voice that was the most prominent was that of Jose Rizal. His novel, Noli Me Tangere (1887), was pointedly anti-Spanish, particularly against the Catholic clergy. Rizal had the idea of a Philippine national identity separate from the Spanish thinking that had been forced upon them (Rodell, 13). Another leader who took more violent means to express dissension was Andres Bonifacio. Bonifacio founded the revolutionary society, the Katipunan, in 1892.

After Rizal’s execution in 1896, Bonifacio lost his control of the Katipunan society, and was executed as well. The new leader, Emilio Aguinaldo, was the first to declare the Philippine’s independence in 1898. The latter events occurred because of the Spanish-American War. American Commodore George Dewey liberated Manila Bay from the Spanish. Then the Treaty of Versailles was signed, which not only made the Philippines the first Asian democratic government, but at the same time, ceded the legal rights of Spain to the United States. Thus, the independence of the Philippines was rather short lived. The following year, the Philippine-American war was declared.

Naturally, the Filipino people were enraged with the United States. Rebel forces began to engage in guerilla warfare with the American troops. Unfortunately, their efforts became futile as American forces continued to dominate. In 1902, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt declared the war over, and the Philippine Assembly first convened in 1907. Although the rebel fighting was over, the struggle for independence was not.

It would not be until 1948 that another large rebel movement would manifest itself. Until then, the Philippines became more and more reliant on American economic and military support. This was apparent after WWII when the Americans had to, once again, liberate the Philippines from outside forces, this time, and Japanese imperialist armies.

Although in 1946 the United States gave the Philippines back its independence, they would still be present since they maintained military bases around the northern island, Luzon. These bases were a controversial topic for many decades. In 1948 a rebel group, the Hukbalahap (nicknamed the Huk), was formed.

During this time, as the economy began to fall and the disparity between rich and poor widened, a congressman, Ferdinand Marcos, came onto the political scene. Marcos won the presidency by an overwhelming margin. He made promises of land reform and increased food production. In 1969, Marcos’ re-election campaign “emptied the national treasury and was widely believed to be the most corrupt in history” (Rodell, 19).

In reaction to Marcos’ spending, the Huk was revitalized. It joined with the Communist Party of the Philippines and formed the New People’s Army. At the same time, students began to organize themselves in protests. These protests were given the name “First Quarter Storms.” As these new groups start forming, massive demonstrations and later bombings began as well. In reaction to the violence, Marcos declared martial law in 1972.

At first, there was support for martial law because it ended the spontaneous violence. However, unwarranted arrests and seizures of opposition leaders and anyone linked to them began to occur. The most famous of these was the secret arrest and imprisonment in 1972 of Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, who was the loudest anti-Marcos voice. When Aquino was released to the U.S. for heart surgery, he stayed at Harvard University until 1983. He returned to the Philippines that year to face Marcos. Upon his arrival, he was assassinated.

In 1986, pressured by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and political opposition, Marcos held “snap” elections (Rodell, 23). Controversy surrounding ballot counting led to Marcos’ re-election. But the election drama would not end there. Upon hearing of their arrest orders, Minister of Defense Juan Ponce Enrile, and Armed Forces Vice Chief of Staff General Fidel V. Ramos barricaded themselves in Quezon City with a few armed soldiers. Their arrest seemed inevitable, until Archbishop Sin asked the Filipino people to rally around these military leaders. The following events were referred to as “EDSA” (Epitanio de los Santos Avenue).

Hundreds of people, rich and poor, nuns and businessmen, created human barricades in the street. Their actions would then inspire other military leaders and units to defect (Rodell, 23). While all this was happening, Cory Aquino was sworn in February 1986. The Marcos dictatorship was finally over.

Currently, the Philippines is known officially as the Republic of the Philippines. The government is much like the American model: one president and vice president, a bicameral legislative branch, and a judicial branch. Even though the Philippines has reached a point of normalcy, the government continues to be run by corrupt and unqualified officials.

Jose Rizal

Jose Rizal grew up in a loving family of 11 siblings and two well-educated, prominent parents. Born in Laguna on June 19, 1861, Rizal witnessed the effects of Spanish colonialism and especially Spanish religious power. Their control of the Filipino and their neglectful attitudes towards Filipinos would shape Rizal’s opinion on Catholicism, education and political reform, and his sense of morality.

One can think of Rizal as a wunderkind: he wrote his first poem (about his love of Tagalog) at the age of 8, he graduated with bachelor’s degree at 16, he spoke 22 languages fluently, and mastered some 25 professions from musician and poet to economist and sociologist. He achieved all of this in only 35 years of his life. But it was be his writing and journalism that would make him a national hero.

Noli Me Tangere (“Touch Me Not,” 1887) was Rizal’s published novel. Written in Europe, the story revolves around Ibarra, a young man returning home fresh from his studies in Europe. Full of ideas, he proposes to the Friars of his town to build a school where Filipinos can be educated and learn to speak Spanish. But a malevolent friar, Fray Salvi, attempts to sabotage Ibarra’s efforts. He organizes a revolt in Ibarra’s name in order to get him imprisoned.

Aside from the drama, which also includes a love story, Noli criticizes keenly the interrelationship between church and state. Rizal accuses Spanish government of using the Catholic Church to miseducate and demean the Filipino people, so that they may be free to legislate as they wish without any opposition. Of course, these ideas came under harsh attacks from the Spanish government and the Catholic Church. Consequently, Spain exiled Rizal and threatened to behead him if he returned from Europe.

Others critisized Noli for being full of problems and no solution. What they did not know was that Rizal had plans for another novel, the El Filibusterismo (The Subversive). This book offered the answers to the questions in the Noli.

When Rizal did arrive, Spanish officials quickly arrested him and banished him to live in Dapitan on June 16, 1892. The charge was that they found anticlerical propaganda in his sister’s luggage. However, Rizal’s time in Dapitan was a rather peaceful one. He was able to teach, cultivate land, and write music and poetry. However, six years later at the beginning of the Philippine revolution, Rizal was imprisoned aboard a ship off the coast of Cavite. On September 2, 1896, Rizal was executed. He was only 35.

It is interesting to note that Rizal was actually against this revolution, which was instigated by Bonifacio and the Katipunan. Rizal believed the only way to influence change in the Philippines, was peacefully. In this sense, Rizal was more of a reformist than a revolutionary.

The Hukbahalap

Philippine Communist organizations were born out of frustration with oppressive land policies during the American Regime which lasted from the end of the Spanish-American War (1898) until the promised date of full Philippine independence (1946). Specifically, farmers were growing tired of being exploited by absentee American landlords. These landlords would charge farmers 50-70% of the harvest for rent and seed. Farmers would be left with little or nothing to support their families, and often starved.

One of the first of these organizations was the Kapisanang Pambansa ng mga Magbudukid sa Filipinas (KPMP), or National Peasant's Union, formed in 1924. It was a collaboration between Philippine Communists and Harrison George, a member of the American Comintern. Several other Communist organizations appeared after the KPMP: the Worker’s Party (1927), Partido Komunista ng Filipinas (The Communist Party of the Philippines) (PKP) (1930), Philippine Socialist Party (1932) and the Worker and Peasant’s Union (WPU). These organizations sought land reform in order to alleviate the exploitation by Americans on Filipino farmers. When the Japanese armies started to take over the Philippine Islands, the original Leaders of the KPMP (Luis Taruc, Isabelo de los Reyes, and Crisanto Evangelista) formed the Hukbahalap.

Hukbalahap is a shorthand for the phrase “Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon,” which means “Anti-Japanese Army.” The Huk first formed when Japanese armies forced them to seek refuge in the mountains. During that time, the leaders decided to engage in guerilla warfare to intimidate Japanese forces and run them out. Eventually they succeeded with the aid of American troops. But they would have to fight again.

American intelligence suspected Huk leadership to be part of a pro-Japanese effort known as the “Sakdalistas.” In addition to these suspicions, the president, Sergio Osmena, undermined the Huks control over certain areas on the island of Luzon. The efforts made by Osmena, Gen. A. MacArthur, and corrupt government officials led the Huk to go back to guerrilla tactics in asserting their power on the island. The Huk had two phases of insurrection in between 1948 to 1959, where the peak was in 1950. But ultimately, American and Philippine armies would defeat them.

An interesting aspect of the Hukbahalap is their support for local music. Lockard describes them as a “singing army.” Local music and updated old songs were used to recruit, in their propaganda, and in battle hymns (Lockard, 141). One famous song is “Buhay ng Gerilya” (“Life of a Guerrilla”). Their influence during the 1940s and 1950s was apparent not least because of their power but because of their ability to connect with the Filipino identity.

History of Filipino Music

The changes in influence and style in Philippine music can be directly tied to social and revolutionary movements in Philippine history. Corazon Canave-Dioquino, in her article “Philippine Music, A Historical Overview,” separates the history of Filipino music into three traditions: Indigenous, Spanish-European Influenced, and American Influenced. These separations clearly mark times in Philippine history when a shift in power had occurred. For example, indigenous music had almost been completely wiped out due to the colonizing forces from Spain. Three centuries later, American music began to saturate the radio waves and dance halls. However, for the purposes of this essay, the latter two historical periods will be emphasized.

Spain conquered more than just land when they colonized the Philippine islands. They also imposed their own culture, religion and politics. Thus, the music of these three centuries greatly reflects the power that they had. Beginning in 1565 until the Spanish-American War in 1898, Filipinos were unable to practice their own traditional music. Nor were they allowed to speak of their devotion to the Philippines. Instead, whenever nationalistic views were expressed, they had to be dedicated to Spain. This censorship had a profound effect on the music during the start of colonization, and especially at the end.

Religious music was the first taught to Filipinos; more specifically, Spanish friars introduced Gregorian chant. Eventually, the Catholic Church would transform traditional folk music and insert Christian symbology. Examples of this are the pabasa and pasyon (life and passion of the Christ), salubong (Christ is risen), panuluyan (search for an inn) (Santos, Forms). Each of these corresponded of course to the religious calendar. This music was also adapted and interpreted differently in other provinces and cities.

The pasyon is one of the better known chants played during Lent. It is usually sung in the homes, or outside in makeshift mangers or barrios. The form is very basic, and is based on several genres such as opera, folk songs, and plainchant. As noted before, each region had its own version. Most notable are the Ilokano, the Pampango, the Bicolano, and the Bisayan. The pasyon takes anywhere from sixteen to twenty hours to complete. However, Spanish influence was not limited to liturgical music.

Secular music was deeply rooted in Hispanic tradition. Instruments synonymous with Spanish music were widespread, particularly the guitar. The rondalla is good example of this. Patterned after the estudiantina and comparasa, the rondalla is a plucked string ensemble (Santos, Forms). Instruments that were used were the bandurria, laud, octaniva, guitar, and bajo de uñas. The repertoire consists of a wide variety of genres: marches, pasodoble (in two), medleys, overtures, concert music, and accompaniments to folk dances. Other forms of music include dances, based on Spanish dances: carinosa, balitao, pandanggo (fandango), polka, dansa, and rigodon. Dances that were accompanied by the rondalla are the banduria, laud, octavina, gitara and bajo. Theater and song also took Spanish forms.

One of the most popular types of songs in the Philippines is the harana. The term harana refers generally to serenades in Tagalog. The structure of the harana is based on the plosa, the form of Tagalog poetry. Furthermore, the harana is actually a series of elaborate courtship rituals. Firstly, the pananapatan would be sung at the window of the lady. It would not be until the second song that the serenader would be invited into the home. This invitation would also be sung, known as the pasasalamat. After the thanks and invitation, the courter would ask the lady to sing a song (pagtumbok), and immediately make a second request (paghilig). When all has been said (or sung), the pamamaalam, or goodbye song, would see the young serenader out the door. Fortunately, not all songs carried such pomp and circumstance.

The sarswela (zarzuela) is an important genre associated with Philippine dissention. Through the sarswela, and later the kundiman, Filipino people were able to circumvent Spanish censors. Originally, the sarswela is the Filipino interpretation of the Spanish zarzuela which is a play with music and dance. It was first introduced to the Philippines in 1879, and by the early 1900s it became widespread. Each province had its own take on the sarswela, and it was played in their respective dialects.

The sarswela would often begin with an overture. Acts would begin with an intermezzo and end with a grand tableau. Solos were very light, and lyrical, but for dramatic situations, a kind of recitative, known as the hablado, was used. Early on, themes revolved around family and love. Later, when tensions began to rise between the Filipino people and Spanish and American forces, nationalistic sentiments arose. Often these would be played out as encounters with opposition forces, where the Filipino would prevail. The most famous composers of sarswela are Bonifacio Abdon, Alejo Carluen, Franciso Buencamino, and Francisco Santiago.

This trend of Hispanization of Filipino music and way of life would last until the Americans took over. Although the Americans did not intend to cleanse the Philippines of its culture and implant their own, the result of their occupation was just as similar. Despite the American regime formally lasting from 1898 to 1946, its influence is still pervasive today. Between this time, a great upheaval of Spanish influence took place, and the Filipinos were indoctrinated in American culture and thought.

The tradition of classical music continued during the American regime. Compositions of the sarswela, kundiman, stylized folk songs, and instrumental music became even more prolific (Canave-Diquino, “Historical Overview”). Nicanor Abelardo created texturally rich instrumental pieces, and used unorthodox combinations of instruments. Neo-classicism greatly influenced the great pianist/composer, Lucresia Kasilag. Kasilag also incorporated native instruments in her music, for example in Her son, Jose and Oriental Suite for Piano and chamber and Philippine percussion instruments (Santos, “Contemporary Music”). However, not all Filipino music was so original.

The popularity of American rock’n’roll, pop music, dance, and disco comprise what is Pinoy pop today. Through low-budget films, Filipinos were exposed to American culture. This became the most effective way in which American pop culture became the culture in the Philippines.

Because of these influences, native Filipino music became almost lost. In order to compete with the rising popularity of American music, Filipinos created translations of the most popular songs. This was called “tunog lata” or “tinny sound” because of the poor recording quality. The term “bakya” was coined during this time as a way to describe the lowbrow, or low-quality type of entertainment enjoyed by many. Often these pieces would use a sort of pidgin version of Tagalog, or combination of Tagalog and English (Taglish). Songs sung in pure Tagalog (or what some refer to as “deep Tagalog”) were seen less and less. Lockard observed this trend in Philippine music as “three centuries in a Spanish convent followed by fifty years in Hollywood” (121). The emergence of Pinoy music became a great hope for Filipino redemption in popular music.

Pinoy can be described as a blend of rock, folk and ballad sung in Tagalog. The folk sound is attributed to the unavailability of synthesizers. But the theme of Pinoy music is much like that of American folk music. Most often, these musicians would sing about the Filipino identity, or lack of it. They would also lament the problems in Philippine society, such as unemployment, prostitution, and poverty, which they saw as a direct relation to neocolonialism. Through this music, the reality of their hardships was exposed.

During the declaration of Martial Law by Ferdinand Marcos in 1972, folk music was banned. Therefore, it was hard to gather support since it was not played at all on the radio waves. Musicians had to learn to be subtler in their criticism of Philippine institutions. Ironically, Marcos would later force radio stations to play at least one to three Pinoy songs a day on private radio stations in order to promote Filipino music.

Some artists who became famous as folk musicians are Florante de Leon and Hector Bartolome. The artist who became synonymous with Pinoy music is Freddie Aguilar. These artists’ work would inspire protest in campuses across the islands, and give momentum to anti-Marcos rebel organizations.


The origins of the word “kundiman” are varied. It could be an alteration of the phrase “kung hindi man” which means “if it were not so.” This phrase is said to have appeared frequently in kundiman pieces. Another more sartorial version is that it is named after a pair of bright red trousers called kundiman. Whatever the etymology of the name is, it now has come to signify a movement in Philippine history, and the passion of its people.

The first kundiman appeared in the 1800s and lasted until the 1930s. Although they are still sung and semi-popular today, their popularity was highest between those times. It is interesting to note that whenever tensions rose between the Philippines and an opposing force, the kundiman would be seen as much more than just a lover’s plea.

Traditionally, the kundiman is a courtship song, a type of harana. It would be sung at the bottom of a young lady’s window, and the intent would be to get this young lady to invite her serenader inside. Or, at least, acknowledge his efforts. When Western dance music became a widely used form, the kundiman would be set to its variety of rhythmic pulses, such as in the danza, the waltz, and the fandango (Besa, “Love Song”). More and more, the kundiman began to have a more established form.

The form is rather simple: it consists of two sections in contrasting modes. The first section would be sung in a minor mode, the second section in its parallel major. Often, they would repeat at the end of each section. Early on, the kundiman text was improvised. Now, it is usually based on a moving piece of poetry. Poets whose work often appeared as kundimans were those of Jose Corzaon de Jesus, Deogracias A. Rosario, and Jesus Balmori.

During Spanish colonization, the kundiman song was used to express nationalistic sentiments of the Philippines. Because of the widespread censorship during this time, singing about the love of one’s country, and not love for Spain, was forbidden. So, the text of the kundiman would take a double meaning: a literal one (amorous love for another person), and a nationalistic one. After Spanish rule, the Filipino people were more free to literally express their devotion to their country.

The 20th century brought on much change in the Philippine lifestyle, as well as in the caliber of music. Since the Americans changed the entire education system in the Philippines, music was incorporated into all levels of education, and most notably in higher education. Thus, the kundiman became a much more serious work. It became an art song. One could compare it to the German lieder. Although the sound was very rooted in Western tradition, it was sung in Tagalog.

The most popular composers of kundiman come from the 20th century: Francisco Santiago (1889-1947), Nicanor Abelardo (1893-1934), and Constancio de Guzman. Santiago is considered one of the most influential composers, and is credited with bringing the kundiman into art song status. Abelardo is said to have been influenced by Santiago in his own compositions (Besa, “Love Song”). Constancio de Guzman studied under Abelardo and more famous for his film scoring.

Famous works of kundiman come from all the different eras of its history. “Jocelynang Baliwag,” by an anonymous composer, appeared circa 1896. It was most popular among the rebels of the revolution. The literal interpretation of this song was a love song dedicated to a beautiful woman named Josefa “Pepita” Tiongson y Lara. But it was really about the struggle for freedom. Santiago wrote a humorous piece known as “Kundiman of 1800.” The text was changed to a more grave one which recounted the execution of Jose Rizal. In 1928, the song “Bayan Ko” by de Guzman became instantly famous and functioned as a second national anthem of the Philippines. It would be used again in the 1980s in a folk rendition by Freddie Aguilar against the Marcos Dictatorship.

In Craig Lockard’s book “Dance of Life,” he notes how Filipinos used idiomatic Spanish music in counter-hegemonic ways (116). The epitome of this observation is the kundiman. It was not only used during Spanish colonization, but also during the American regime, and somewhat recently during the Marcos dictatorship. Its evolution is marked by the changing influences on Philippine culture as well as by the revolutions. This is why the kundiman is so important to understanding the musical history of the Philippines, but also the history of the country itself.

Folk Music

Since the 19th century, folk music has been rooted in nationalism. That does not refer to the nationalism in Italy or Germany during World War II, but to a country’s cultural identity. Often, modern folk music seeks to create this identity. This is the case in Filipino folk music circa 1970. But its history is much more rooted in tradition and occupation.

Ethnomusicologist Jose Maceda classified folk music into six genres: lullabies, didactic/figurative, occupational, occasional, war, and love (qtd in Theissen, 17). None of these songs were ever written; they were passed on orally. What’s more, each province had their own interpretation. However, we still are able to document them for they fortunately were not forgotten.

Types of lullabies include the owiwi, dagdagay, oppia, lagan bata-bata, bua, and kawayanna. Didactic songs often recounted a debate between a peasant and a wealthy bourgeoisie where the peasant uses common sense to outwit the rich.

Examples of occupational (work) songs are the dinaweg (boar), the kellangan (shark-fishing), and the didayu (wine-making). Specific songs include “Magtanim ay Di Biro” (“Planting rice is no joke”), or “Bayuhan” (Pounding Rice). Interestingly, begging is also considered a profession, evidenced by “Palimos” (“Beggar’s Song”). Occasional songs were about the cycle of life: birth, marriage, and death. The balow is sung by a widow to honor her dead husband, and the didiyaw is a chant.

These songs were sung over five hundred years ago. For three centuries under Spanish rule, folk music in the Philippines was essentially Spanish folk music. The idea of a Filipino identity separate from the Spanish would not be brought up until 1887 by national hero Jose Rizal. Even then and after his death, the bitter struggle by Filipinos to claim the Philippines as their own would not be realized until they were given full independence in 1946. This is why it was not until the 1960s and 1970s that a real movement in nationalistic music began.

An important aspect of folk music is language. For hundreds of years, most people sang and spoke in Spanish. When the American educational reform in the Philippines began, English was enforced. Consequently, music was affected by this change. The popular music of the Philippines was American music. Folk musicians reacted to these trends by dedicating themselves to singing only in Tagalog. Thus the Pinoy movement was born.

Pinoy has western characteristics based on rock, folk and ballad. But they are not to be confused with the tunog latas and bakyas (as referred to on page 13) who essentially were copying American music and trying to exploit their popularity. These artists composed their own music and words and were aiming towards a more cultivated audience.

Recording studios began to open their arms and ears to more folk musicians, but the music never seemed to reach real popularity. There were many different types of folk-like music at this time such as “Manila Sound,” “Pinoy Rock,” or “Pinoy Folk.” Therefore, there was not a real sense of leadership among these musicians. Nevertheless, it did not stop artists like Freddie Aguilar and Florante de Leon from having lasting careers. Pinoy truly flourished during the Japanese occupation and later the Marcos dictatorship.

A major audience for folk musicians was students. These were often the people who would actively protest against Filipino oppression. Older songs were reset to updated political texts. The song “Awit Ng Pakikibaka” (“Song of the Struggle”) is an example of this, as well as “Babaing Walang Kibo” (“Oppressed Women, Unite and Fight”). These songs expressed anti-Japanese sentiments in reaction the Japanese occupation. During the Marcos administration, though, protest songs changed to reflect communist or socialist inclinations.

Many songs dealt with the Filipino identity itself, as well as the social ills of the Philippines. Kapwa is used frequently to indicate the Filipino individuality as well as commonality with his brother. “Digoman” (“War”) by Florante deals with this word in terms of struggles against others, and also in “Ako’y Isang Pinoy” where he celebrates his own language. Hector Bartolome sang about poverty in his “Buhay Pinoy” (“Filipino Life”) and forced prostitution in “Nena.”

Despite the proliferation of folk music, most of it was not even played on the radio. Martial law affected everything from daily life to the music heard on the radio. Marcos did not want anti-establishment songs infecting the minds of the people. Therefore an underground music scene was created. After the fall of the Marcos administration, music was free to do as it wished.

Stylistical Analysis

Constancio de Guzman – Bayan Ko

Although composing was not his first career choice, Constancio de Guzman was a prolific musical composer. He wrote over a thousand compositions published and unpublished. Most of his works appear in movies, whose titles have unfortunately been forgotten. However, one composition of his stands the test of time.

“Bayan Ko” was written during the Philippine-American war to express the feeling of imprisionment by the Filipino people. It became an instant hit, and was considered an unofficial national anthem of the Philippines. His song would be used once again against a modern political backdrop: the Marcos dictatorship. Freddie Aguilar, a folk singer, re-arranged “Bayan Ko” and took this song to the streets in protest. Perhaps because of its simplicity or because of its poetry, “Bayan Ko” has become an anthem for the Filipino people during times of struggle and warfare.

“Bayan Ko” was composed by Constancio de Guzman to a poem by Jose Corazon de Jesus. This poem reflects the frustrations of a people who have been under constant colonial rule for over three centuries. The poetry describes the charms of this country, and how foreign lands were “intoxicated…by her beauty.” The Philippines is described metaphorically as a caged bird that must be freed. This piece has the typical elements of the kundiman, but also has the simplicity and directness of a song about revolution.

Ang bayan kong Pilipinas
Lupain ng ginto't bulaklak
Pagibig ang sa kanyang palad
Nag-alay ng ganda at dilag.

At sa kanyang yumi at ganda

Dayuhan ay nahalina
Bayan ko binihag ka
Nasadlak sa dusa.

Ibong mang may layang lumipad

Kulungin mo at umiiyak
Bayan pa kayang sakdal dilag
Ang di magnasang maka-alpas
Pilipinas kong minumutya
Pugad ng luha ko at dalita
Aking adhika
Makita kang sakdal laya!

Text by Jose Corazon de Jesus

My country, the Philippines:
Land of gold, garden of flowers
Endowed with love,
Gifted with beauty and radiance,

Intoxicated because of her beauty,

Foreign lands were drawn to her.
My dear country, they came and conquered you
And you suffered in misery.

A bird that is free to fly

Put it in a cage and it cries.
What other country, so full of radiance
Would not want to be free?
Philippines, my beloved,
Nest of tears and suffering,
My wish for you
Is to set you totally free!

Translation by Philippine Study Group of Minnesota

“Bayan Ko” is for voice and piano accompaniment. Its time is 3/4 and has a consistent moderato tempo. The first section (A) begins in d minor then modulates D major in the second section (B). The tessitura of the A section lies between F4 and Bb5 and has a range of C#4 to G5. By contrast, the B section has a range from F4 to F5, with the tessitura being A5 to D5.

This piece can be classified as having parallel periods in both sections, with an introduction and a conclusion at the end of each. In the A section, the first period and second period begin with the same melodic and rhythmic statement. These characteristics are exactly the same in the B section. New material at the end of each period can be called conclusions, as they reflect the general melodic and rhythmic theme of the piece, but are not entirely similar. The periods can then be organized into two bar motives.
Example 1.1

The melody of this piece is rather easy to follow. There aren’t any jarring leaps as diatonic motion predominates. However, there are 3rds, 4ths, and 6ths that are used sparingly. In the A section, high notes are sung rarely, while in the B section the high notes are a focal point in the melody. This shift is mostly guided by the text’s images: the exotic qualities of a strange new land, its subsequent enslavement (A section) and the cry for freedom (B section).

The overall motion of the piece is sweeping in the A section and lilting in the B section. There is also rising and falling, more notably in the A section, in the vocal line. Because the rising and falling occur in mostly stepwise motion, there is also a feeling of tension and release (Example 1.2). The B section’s movement has a bouncing feeling because of its repetition of notes (FF-EE-DD) and m2 alternations (A-G#-A-G#-A-C). This movement is also reflected in the text. The words of the A section are mournings, thus the sweeping-then-lilting motion are like deep sighs. Flying characterizes the B section with its lilt resembling a bird’s flight through light winds.

Example 1.2

Dynamic levels act also as an element that gives more depth to the textual imagery. The A section begins in piano until the conclusion with the statement “Bayan ko!” where it crescendos quickly to forte, then just as suddenly it diminuendos. Although the B section begins in mezzo forte, the gap between dynamic levels is equaled to the A section with a fortissimo at the end of the piece. However, right before the ff in the B section, there is a measure and half of p right before the crescendo. It can be assumed that this dramatic drop from mf to p serves to give even more momentum and drama towards the exclamatory ff.

There are two rhythmic themes used throughout the piece, which are varied only by the melody (Example 1.2 and 1.3). Differing patterns occur around the cadences. Except in the first cadence (mm 6-8) of the A section, these new patterns seem to be variants of the predominating theme. Again, we see how these direct elements combine to make the even more clear and memorable.
Example 1.3

Example 1.4

There is no significant juxtaposition between the vocal line and piano accompaniment, as the piano doubles the voice throughout the entire piece. While the piano does double, it is not playing just what the voice sings. The melodic line in the accompaniment is harmonized in thirds or sixths, adding depth to the vocal line. Waltz-like broken chords in the piano’s bass line dominate in the A section, while alternations between broken chords and Alberti Bass mark the B section.

Harmonic coloration is important to the message of this piece. The minor mode in the A section serves the plaintive words of a country conquered and living in misery. The relative major is used in the B section to exclaim the need for freedom from the bondage of colonialism. The directness of the chord structure and sequences better cement the message of the text. The chords follow a simple I-V-I progression, with f#m and g/G making small appearances. There are no half- or deceptive-cadences in this piece; there are only imperfect or perfect cadences. These qualities create the simplicity of the song, aiding the political message of the text to cut through.

Constancio de Guzman chose simplicity over complex chordal figures in bringing this piece to life, which has become so important to Filipino history. This song is easy to sing, and easier to remember than even the national anthem of the Philippines. Although it takes much of its harmonic cues from Spanish influences, the feeling of the Filipino plight is very evident in the words.

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