Much Brouhaha over Martin Nievera’s rendition of National Anthem

Well, his version of our National Anthem last week had no slip ups, and I was surprised The National Historical Institute (NHI) still had something critical to say this time.  The NHI have always been critical of the singing of the anthem during international events that were aired on TV and radio. They also criticized the renditions of singers Sarah Geronimo, Kyla, Lani Misalucha and Bituin Escalante in the past.

“Despite repeated reminders, some artists continue to make adjustments to the anthem, which is not an ordinary piece of music open to free interpretation,” NHI chairman Ambeth Ocampo reportedly said.

Meanwhile, Martin refuses to apologize and felt sorry that some people were not pleased with his rendition. “Well, it’s gonna be hard for me to apologize for something that I am not sorry for. I did not ask to do the anthem. Manny Pacquiao himself asked me to sing the National Anthem.” he said.

While for me, the message of the Anthem remained intact about national pride and dedication, the song itself is an art, hence should really be open for an artist's slight variation in rendition.  

Section 37 of the Republic Act No. 8491, also known as the 1998 Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines, provides that "the rendition of the National Anthem, whether played or sung, shall be in accordance with the musical arrangement and composition of Julian Felipe."

Felipe composed in 1898 the anthem's music, which has the tune of a march. It was played during the proclamation of the country's independence from Spain at Kawit, Cavite on June 12, 1898.

The time will come when nobody would want to sing our Anthem anymore for Manny Pacquiao's bouts for fear of this nonsensical reprisal by the NHI.  For me, the artist does not disrespect the rendition if he/she does not change the lyrics, does not perform disrespectful ridicule or mock the song, then the artist may change the pace and tone of the song.  Perhaps it is time to revise the latter part of that law "shall be in accordance with the musical arrangement and composition of Julian Felipe", and clarify what "accordance" really means, instead of nitpicking each and every singer. Better to find a solution to the problem instead of trying to find faults.  Pilipinas! Attitude like this might even put us over 175 years in terms of catching up to other countries! 



  1. jonatsgonats says:

    Do we see other singers from other countries making their own renditions of their country’s national anthem? I think only here in the Philippines do we disrespect the lyrics and the tune of the anthem. The national anthem is all about paying respect to your country, and who are we to change and modify it to our liking. Does that mean we are above the country just as what Martin did? By changing the tune he is insulting Julian Felipe and telling us that he can do a better version. Truly an insult. But you know what who cares right, Martin is rich, powerful and a celebrity so who gives a damn.

  2. chupitero says:

    Actually the US national anthem has been subject to various interpretations one of the most infamous was Roseanne Barr’s screechy performance followed by her spitting and grabbing her crotch afterwards. Google is such a useful tool, some people should learn how to use it.

  3. mat_bike says:

    I think, the point of NHI is that there’s a law that prohibits what Martin (and other singers) did. In that case, we should abide by that law. It’s not a question of whether he sang it well or otherwise, rather, did he followed the law or not.

    I’m not sure if USA have such law.

  4. mat_bike says:

    > Pilipinas! Attitude like this might even put us over 175 years in terms of catching up to other countries!

    Pardon me, but attitude like this (abiding by the law) will likely put us at par with progressive countries. What put us 175 years behind is the attitude of being selective on which law to abide by or not.

    Just my 2 cents. I hope I won’t get flamed.

  5. mat_bike says:

    I don’t think Martin’s rendition is insulting Julian Felipe. I think, JP will be honored and proud. I’m a software developer. If my work is used by someone else in his work, better or worse than how I used it, I’ll feel honored.

    The issue here is plain and simple respect for the law.

    Sorry folks. I just have to say my piece (the last on this issue).

  6. d.martins says:

    just adding to the vote.
    no to improvisations.
    yes to abiding by the law.
    and i read from the papers that before martin sang the anthem, ryan cayabyab had warned him about changing it.
    so i dont get why the next day, martin was acting all clueless and telling people that the artist should be
    informed of the law before he actually sings the anthem not after.
    as if, people are obliged to tell him.

  7. I am an American who loves the RP because I am married to the most wonderful person in the world who lives in Cebu. But I must admit the first time I really paid attention to the National Anthem of the Philippines was when I heard this rendition. I am very much not qualified to know if what Martin did with this wonderful song was right or wrong but I can honestly say that I felt a strong sense of pride for the Philippines when I listened to him sing the song with a feeling and emotion that came straight from his heart. Again, I humbly say that I am not qualified at all to say that it was right or wrong according to the Philippines law but it did stir good, strong emotions in me when I heard it. With much respect always, MW

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