'Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo' was composed in three minutes

February 25, 2011 marks the 25th anniversary of the People Power revolution at EDSA that ousted a dictator. To mark the occasion, ABS-CBN has been airing a music video using a rearranged version of Jim Paredes’s composition “Handog ng Pilipino” with  Martin Nievera, Gary V, Zsa Zsa Padilla, Vina Morales, Erik Santos, Piolo Pascual, Christian Bautista, Toni Gonzaga, Sam Milby, Juris, Aiza Seguerra, Yeng Constantino and Jovit Baldivino providing the vocals.

It’s interesting to note that aside from the first four names on this list and Piolo, who was already nine years old, the rest were mere toddlers during the EDSA phenomenon. Jovit was not even born yet.

The almost four-minute video is a glossy production that includes stock footage from the 1986 event and scenes specially shot for the occasion. One frame shows a listing of several countries who were influenced by our brand of People Power. The singers perform in front of colorful banners that capture the celebratory mood of the video. Gary V, Martin and Christian easily shone over the others.

I liked the introduction of kids joining the singing in a garden setting. Who knows, 25 years from now, they may still be around to observe the 50th year of EDSA I. What almost destroyed my appreciation for the Kapamilya project was the use of a few notes from the ABS-CBN jingle at the end of the video. Well, the network spent for this production so let’s give it to them.

I spoke to “Handog’s” composer two days ago and asked him to go back in time and recall how this anthem was created. Jim said it took him around three minutes to compose the song sometime in March when the euphoria over the triumph at Edsa was still at its peak. He explained that the idea for the song was probably gestating inside him months before Feb. 25. So when he sat down and played the first few notes on the piano, the melody and the lyrics just started rushing in:

‘Di na 'ko papayag mawala ka muli.
'Di na 'ko papayag na muli mabawi,
Ating kalayaan kay tagal natin mithi.
'Di na papayagang mabawi muli.

All the way to the song’s conclusion:

Mapayapang paraang pagbabago.
Katotohanan, kalayaan, katarungan.
Ay kayang makamit na walang dahas.
Basta't magkaisa tayong lahat!

The lyrics that stood out for me was “Kay sarap palang maging Pilipino.” which was how almost everyone felt back in ’86.

After finishing the song, he brought it to Apo’s recording company, WEA Records, which was putting together an album of patriotic songs. “Handog” was going to be the carrier single. Jim then invited singers who were identified with EDSA--Apo’s Danny Javier and Buboy Garrovillo, CelesteLegaspi, Kuh Ledesma, Ivy Violan, Subas Herrero, Noel Trinidad, Becky Demetillo, Edru Abraham, Lester Demetillo, Joseph Olfindo, Inang Laya, Coritha and Eric -- to record the song. Except for a few names, not exactly a star-studded line-up but it was their convictions that mattered.  Kris Aquino, a bubbly teeny-bopper then, surprised everyone when she showed up at the studio.

Jim had also asked respected film director Mike de Leon to shoot a music video. He had worked with Mike before in the movie, “Kung Mangarap Ka’t Magising.” What Mike came up with was a simple low-budget film tracing the Filipino’s struggle for independence against the Spaniards, the Americans, the Japanese and then later the Marcos dictatorship. There were shots of heroes like Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio and Apolinario Mabini then later prominent figures who fought Marcos like Jose Diokno, Lorenzo Tañada, Joker Arroyo, Rene Saguisag Joe Burgos and of course, Ninoy and Cory Aquino.

Jim admits that he was influenced by the music video “We Are the World” by the USA for Africa where several pop singers sang the composition of Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie. The “Handog” music video was played so many times on TV that year and years and decades later, several versions have surfaced on YouTube including the latest one by ABS-CBN.

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The views and observations of the author do not represent the position of Yahoo! Southeast Asia on the issue or topic being discussed.

Photo by NPPA Images

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