Bayang Magiliw … Ready? Sing. We all know what comes next. We’ve all gone through Monday morning flag ceremonies in school and even in government offices, sung the anthem before watching a movie or a play, before starting some official function. We all know how the anthem is sung. Why don’t our pop singers?
They can’t say they are not aware of the law regulating how it should be sung. First: Ignorance of the law excuses no one. Second: It’s of common knowledge that no one can alter the National Anthem. You think you can alter the flag and claim freedom of expression? Certain things are obviously sacred to a nation. Case in point: there was much uproar when a local pop singer forgot the lyrics to the National Anthem. And there isn’t even any law penalizing that.
How to Sing the National Anthem
We can’t say it better than the relevant provisions themselves, namely, Sections 34 and 20 of RA 8491:
Sec. 37. The rendition of the National Anthem, whether played or sung, shall be in accordance with the musical arrangement and composition of Julian Felipe. [italics supplied]
How does Julian Felipe’s composition sound like?
Sec. 20. The observance of the flag ceremony in official or civic gatherings shall be simple and dignified and shall include the playing or singing of the anthem in its original Filipino lyrics and march tempo. [italics supplied]
Still unsure? Then visit the home page of the National Heritage Institute which has uploaded the National Anthem for your listening pleasure. But most likely for everybody’s guidance. You can hear it in various instrumental and sung versions. All in the same arrangement. The same tempo.
Freedom of Expression
No freedom is absolute. Rights are curtailed by law all the time. No one can rightfully claim freedom of expression in performing a different arrangement of the National Anthem.
It doesn’t make sense to allow comparisons with other countries which are open to different versions of their national anthems. They may not have laws relevant on the matter. Although, even if they don’t regulate such singing, it is a safe bet that their citizens will raise a howl if their anthem is sung differently. Certain things are sacred, remember?
Why can we not just go back to how we’ve been trained? We were trained to sing the National Anthem and those holding the microphone are meant to lead and not take the opportunity to show off. Concert king or not.
 "Flag and Heraldic Code of the