Why Frank Hilario didn't stand up when the National Anthem was sung

clip_image002ASINGAN, PANGASINAN: 17 April 2013, Wednesday. It was the first time I ever went to a reunion; it was also the first time I ever objected to a presentation. In fact, I did it twice. None of the presentations met my criteria of correctness and appropriateness. And why did I suddenly become logically fastidious in a school reunion? You will see!

This was the Rizalian Reunion, actually organized by the Golden Jubilarians, Class '63 of the Rizal Junior College (RJC). I belong to the Rizalian Class '57. In those years, the RJC High School Department was one of the top schools in all Pangasinan. The man in the image is Alex Tanwangco, Class '65, the sponsor of the affair, doing  one of the things he likes to do best: singing. He's a good man, a good singer too! 

Roger Daranciang said to "Come as you are" and so I came, as Indiana Jones, my new incarnation, with the hat, shorts and shooter (camera). I came to enjoy, and I was enjoying the talk of some of my classmates' "good old days," even if I did not share the pranks of the boys' who had their willful fun. They told me my gang was girls. I don't remember those girls'-gang days but, yes, I have always liked to be part of a gang of girls:

Girls' gang, as a high school student (Rizal Junior College)
Boys' gang, as a college student (UP Los Baños)
Girls' gang, as a high school teacher (my students at Asingan High School)
Girls' gang, as a college instructor (UP Los Baños)

Sorry boys.

We were all enjoying the music and the dancing (even if I didn't dance - if I don't go with a partner, I don't dance). We had The Santiago Brothers Orchestra. Oh, the music, with all those girls dancing onstage, part of the act.

And then at 2 diferent points came the ground tremors, and we boys knew this was preventable tectonic shift.

1st disturbance

This happened in the singing of the National Anthem. The emcee asked a guest who happened to be a pastor to lead the singing; I'll call him "Saul" to protect the innocent. Saul read the program that said, "National Anthem, Asingan Hymn, Pangasinan Hymn" and he said what he knew the National Anthem was, was "Bayan Ko." At once I stood from my chair (from Table 3) and accosted the emcee. "Bayan Ko is not the National Anthem," I said. "That's not correct." The lady just raised her eyebrows. I did not pursue the matter further. Sometimes I can keep my mouth shut.

So, Saul sang what he considered the National Anthem, which was "Bayan Ko" and so I sat down. First words: "Ang bayan kong Pilipinas / Lupain ng ginto't bulaklak." Definitely not the National Anthem. I was complaining to my tablemates: Joe Delmendo, Edmundo Agsalud, Roger Manalili, Fidel Agsalud. The song wasn't right. I said, "Bayan Ko is the National Anthem of Freddie Aguilar!" I must admit that Saul's singing voice was good, so the song was right with him; however, it wasn't the right song with us. In most programs with public participation, which this reunion was, the Philippine National Anthem must be sung. First words: "Bayang magiliw / Perlas ng Silangan / Alab ng puso / Sa dibdib mo'y buhay." The first song is a ballad; this one is an anthem - you can't mix these songs unless you're mindless or out-of-touch of reality.

So, yes, let it be on record that when the National Anthem was sung during a class reunion in his hometown, Frank Hilario didn't stand up. It was the right act because it was the wrong song.

2nd disturbance

This happened not long after the first.

Some guests did not appear, so the emcee had the bright idea of using the time "to inject some spirituality into the affair." She introduced the fellow; it was the same guy who sang the right patriotic song at the wrong time. Perhaps Saul will do right by himself this time.

When he said, "How many are Christians here?" he counted 12 raised hands. Instantly I knew where he was going; If you heard one, you've heard them all. He was going to proselytize for Protestantism even if he wouldn't say so. He did say, "All you need to be saved is Jesus Christ." Sooner or later, I expected him to say, "Just accept Jesus Christ as your personal lord and savior and you will be saved." That's what they all say, those Protestants. Sola fide. Faith is enough. That is in complete contradiction to the Catholic faith: "Faith is not enough. Faith without works is dead." To the Protestants, the Bible is enough as a source of revealed wisdom. To the Catholics, the Bible is not enough; you need the concurrence or guidance of Holy Traditions and the Magisterium, which is the Teaching Authority of the Church represented by the Pope.
Before Saul read the gospel, he asked everyone to stand. I did not stand. I said aloud, "No, this is not mass." I was thinking, "This is not Catholic. You're not priest. You're not going to preach me Protestantism, the only Christian faith you know." A little more Saul and you can't make a Christian out of me!

He read the gospel about Nicodemus. I knew about Nicodemus. He was an officer of the Roman army. Once, his daughter got sick and no doctor could cure her. It came to the knowledge of Jesus. When Nicodemus met Jesus, Jesus asked him for directions to his house. Nicodemus simply said, to simplify, "Sir, simply say the word and my daughter will be healed." And Saul will then be tempted to say, "So, all you need is Jesus!"

I was not going to listen to the rest of the sermon. I said aloud, "This is going to be one long sermon. I don't like it. This is not correct." 

And then I heard Roger Manalili complaining loudly about the sermonizing. But Raffy Agsalud was louder. "Stop! This is Reunion, not Religion!" Saul laughed. Yes, he laughed. Raffy went forward 2 tables to the edge of the seating area in front of the stage and shouted even louder, "Stop! This is Reunion, not Religion!" Saul kept quiet and then the lady emcee said, "Thank you, Pastor. Some other time." In a little while, Saul realized he was the loser, so he gave up, quietly if not meekly. So I say, "Thank you, Raffy." It was the right act because it was the wrong time for religion.

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