August in the Philippines is the celebration of “Buwan ng Wika.”

This pandemic school year, we chose to learn this famous patriotic song, which is often considered as the unofficial second national anthem of the Philippines.

It was originally penned in Spanish by the Revolutionary general José Alejandrino, and translated into Filipino some three decades later by the poet José Corazón de Jesús. It was a protest song against the Americal occupation at that time.

It then became popular as a propagandist song against the Marcos dictatorship, and it became so significant that public performances of the song were banned and artists faced jail time for singing it. It was sung in Senator Benigno Aquino Jr.’s funeral in 1983, and in 1986, it became a song of the EDSA Revolution. Artist Freddie Aguilar sang it and crowds joined in — and has since been associated with anti-government protests.

More recently, this song has been sung again as a call for protest against the nation’s government led by President Duterte. While it is true that God tells us to obey the authorities (Hebrews 13:17) and pray for those who are in authority (1 Timothy 2), God also tells us to, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8-9)

Let us pray for our nation, our government, our leaders. Let us encourage one another to “Hate what is evil; cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9).  May we be united and love our country in word and deed, for it is the only one we have.