The National Anthem (Pambansang Awit)

The Philippine flag, flown with blue on top if at peace and with red on top if at war.
The Philippine flag, flown with blue on top if at peace and with red on top if at war.

“Bayang Magiliw…” meaning “beloved country” is the first line of the Philippine National Anthem entitled “Lupang Hinirang”. Any Filipino knows this national anthem by heart and can sing it on a moment’s notice. The anthem is sung at the start of any formal meeting or event and every Monday morning at my office, along with flag raising. Singing of the national anthem is done by the collective group, meaning that everyone actively sings (rather than mouthing ‘watermelon’ in the background like grade school chorus concerts).

This brought to attention some cultural differences during training, when all of us Peace Corps trainees were expected by Filipinos to follow their “Lupang Hinirang” with the Star-Spangled Banner as an honor to America. However, only an estimated 40% of all Americans can recite all of the words. And because our national anthem ranges three octaves it is particularly difficult to sing. Furthermore Filipinos never clap, following their anthem contrary to our American practice.

I have had many conversations in Tagalog where I explain these cultural differences to surprised Filipinos. American citizens do not know the words to their own national anthem?! And it is only sung at sports games!?!!

So for those of you now interested to learn more about our national anthem, here is a program from the Smithsonian Channel (, but feel free to find your own video on YouTube and practice singing to your computer to ensure that you fall within the 40% of anthem-capable Americans. Props to Nikki, my Canadian friend, for being able to sing O Canada on a moment’s notice. Finally, my younger sister Breanna is currently available to anyone requiring a national anthem vocalist at any upcoming parties, events or games!

2 thoughts on “The National Anthem (Pambansang Awit)”

  1. I went to a hockey game just last week….and in Calgary, hockey fans know the full American Anthem because they like to sing along and shout out such parts as “oh say can you “C!”…. (for “Calgary”) and another part: “and the rocket’s “RED!” glare”…(for the red on their jerseys). it’s funny when thousands of fans yell out those token words when singing…I’m sure the American fans are just like “what is wrong with these people!?!?”
    haha so there ya go…I know both Canadian and American anthems (and I was taught the Kiwi anthem one night when we were all wasted on a kayak trip…so that almost counts as a third, right?…” 🙂

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