IT IS very sad that when the occasion requires it, we cannot sing our national anthem properly.

Here are some readers' observations:

From Atty. Patricia A.O. Bunye (my daughter):

"Two days ago, I attended a breakfast meeting hosted by the Makati Business Club where Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia, delivered the keynote address.

"Among the many things that struck me: As we began the proceedings with the national anthems of the Philippines and Malaysia, the Filipinos were largely mute, letting the canned version of Lupang Hinirang sing for them. On the other hand, the few Malaysians in the room sang their Negaraku loud and clear."

Another reader (MLC) echoed a similar observation:

"I went to DFA to renew my passport recently and my 7:30 a.m. appointment coincided with their morning prayer and national anthem singing. I was one of the maybe three singing the anthem amidst a sea of hundreds of Filipinos who are there for their appointment. So sad."

Reader Lino Sayson commented:

"Sa mga sinehan, hindi pa man natatapos ang national anthem, may ilan na umuupo na agad."

The national anthem is a national symbol. It was inspired by the spirit of patriotism, heroism and nationalism which should be imbued in every Filipino's heart and mind. The national anthem must therefore be accorded the respect due to it.

Republic Act (RA) 8491, otherwise known as the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines, provides the manner by which we can show our respect both for our anthem and our national flag.

"Section 38. When the National Anthem is played at a public gathering, whether by a band or by singing or both, or reproduced by any means, the attending public shall sing the anthem. The singing must be done with fervor.

"As a sign of respect, all persons shall stand at attention and face the Philippine flag, if there is one displayed, and if there is none, they shall face the band or the conductor.

"At the first note, all persons shall execute a salute by placing their right palms over their left chests.

"Those in military, scouting, citizens military training and security guard uniforms shall give the salute prescribed by their regulations.

"The salute shall be completed upon the last note of the anthem."

Prime Minister Mahatir Mohamad

Our recent visitor could not help but impress his audience during the Makati Business Club meeting where he was keynote speaker.

Reader POB wrote:

"PM Mahathir answered each question thoughtfully, choosing his words carefully and directly responding to sensitive questions (on the South China Sea, for example) tactfully and diplomatically. He even took notes on every question asked. Dignity and class. Sorely lacking among our own leaders."

Dr. Mahatir, at 93, is the oldest still in-office world leader today. Queen Elizabeth, at 92, is second.

When former President Fidel Valdez Ramos turned 90 last year, Mahatir sent PFVR a taped video message saying: "Welcome to the club."

The club obviously refers to former and current world leaders 90 years and above.

Rep. Lito Atienza

During a recent social gathering, I bumped into Buhay Party List Representative Lito Atienza and his wife Beng. Atienza once served as City Mayor of Manila from 1998 to 2007.

"I thought you were running for Mayor of Manila," I asked him.

"Yes, I planned to. But I was disqualified by Comelec."


"They said I was under-aged," Atienza said tongue-in-cheek.

Atienza is 77. He would have run against incumbent Mayor Erap Estrada, 81, and former Mayor Fred Lim, 89. But candidate Isko Moreno is even more "under-aged" at 44.

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