DAVAO City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio Sunday (Dec. 1) riled over the choice of the song “Manila” by Hotdog at the opening ceremony of the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan. Filipino athletes marched, dancing and swaying to the 1970s song as they paraded.
“Why Manila?” she lamented on Instagram.
Her objection was that it was “not inclusive” when “we want to encourage our countrymen to cheer.” The song hails and celebrates Manila alone and the people in the Philippine delegation (1,115 athletes, 753 coaches and officials), come from all over the country. They were carrying the Philippine flag, “for chrissake.” (No, minus the curse but it could sum up the mayor’s feeling.)
Of, for, about Manila
Indisputably, the song is “of, for, and about” the city of Manila alone. It tells of a Manileño who traveled abroad (“walked the streets of San Francisco,” “tried rides in Disnelyand”) but couldn’t forget Manila. He missed the city, not mentioning, even as second choices, Cebu and Davao. So badly he wanted to come home (“no place like Manila”) since dating “a million girls in Sydney” couldn’t ease the homesickness.
The credited writers of the song–Dennis Garcia, “Hotdog” singer and lead guitarist, and his brother, the late Rene, bassist and songwriter–were inspired by the songs “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” and maybe “New York, New You” and “Georgia On My Mind.” They thought Manila needed a “national anthem” of its own.
Manila is the capital city that many provinces and cities, especially those that envy the lion share of national funds and other and resources, regard as “imperial.” Manila is the seat of government powers that most local government units (LGUs), except Manila, want decentralized.
Insensitive or plain neglect
It was insensitive of organizers to pick the “Hotdog” song that glorifies the place that most of the countryside don’t exactly look up to with affection.
Or it could be plain oversight or neglect. It just escaped their mind. With the thousand and one problems afflicting preparations, which the pre-Games glitches and lapses exposed, who’d think people would notice about a freaking song?
Well, one critic did and is no ordinary critic. Mayor Duterte-Carpio who fired the shot is the President’s daughter and not just the President’s daughter but also a probable next president. She’s the founder and leader of Hugpong ng Pagbabago, a regional party with apparently national aspirations. She shook the House tree in July 2018 and the speaker, Pantaleon Alvarez, fell and Gloria Arroyo climbed up.
Mayor Sara rejected the “excuse” for the choice of the Hotdog song: namely, “it was upbeat and danceable.” Never mind that it must be so infectiously stirring that her dad President Duterte reportedly swayed to the song as the Pinoy athletes marched by, obviously not thinking about the lyrics and how it must offend “provinciano” leaders like his daughter.
A more plausible explanation for the choice was exploitation of opportunity through family ties. The brothers who wrote “Manila” are reportedly sons of the chief of Base Conversion and Development Authority, or BCDA, which has a lot to do with the New Clark City, the major sports venue.
Not for country or Cebu
How about the mayor’s argument that Lapulapu didn’t die for Manila? That would a bit lame since Lapu-Lapu City’s hero did not kill explorer Magellan over a country; he and his people didn’t have one yet at the time. The place he held dear and defended with his life didn’t go beyond the part of Maktan island where he ruled as a chieftain.
But still, Lapulapu didn’t take his sword and his men for Manila, not even for nearby Cebu. Mayor Sara’s message is clear. They didn’t do it for the city that the traveler in the Hotdog song “missed like hell.”