While her 74-year-old dad grooved to the music during the opening ceremony of the Southeast Asian Games on Saturday, presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio complained that the pop song “Manila” from the 1970s was inappropriate because it did not speak to the entire nation.
In an Instagram post Sunday, Duterte-Carpio said, “We should be inclusive when we want to encourage our countrymen to cheer.”
She seemed defiant in the face of criticism that might be thrown her way.
“I am a Filipino but I don’t have one drop of Tagalog blood in me,” she said, taking pride in her southern roots.
The song “Manila,” a song popularized by eighties Filipino band Hotdog, was played as Team Philippines entered during the parade of athletes at the opening ceremony of the games at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan on Saturday.
The song is about a man who has spent some time overseas but is longing to return home to Manila, the country’s capital.
The crowd danced and sang as the song played. Even President Rodrigo Duterte swayed to the music and clapped his hands as the Philippine delegation filled up the stage.
But in her post, Duterte-Carpio questioned the use of the song when the athletes represented the entire Philippines, not just Manila.
“Weren’t they bringing the Philippine flag?” she said in Filipino. “Why would you play the song Manila? Did Lapu-Lapu (the Cebuano chieftain who defeated and killed the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan in the Battle of Mactan in 1521) die for Manila?” she said.
The mayor’s remarks, though well-intended, seem surprisingly parochial. They fail, for instance, to take into account that often, a country by convention is represented by its capital. Thus Paris has come to represent France, London, the United Kingdom, and Tokyo, Japan. The French, the British and the Japanese who do not live in these cities do not complain that they are being misrepresented or under-represented. They are sophisticated enough to understand that this is the way of the world.
The song itself is innocuous, and speaks to the longing for home that millions of Filipinos working abroad feel, regardless of whether they actually live in Manila.
Finally, on a historical note, the mayor should know that Lapu-Lapu did not die at the Battle of Mactan. In fact, there are no records of how or when he actually died. We do know, however, that regardless of how he died, it probably wasn’t for some grand vision of nationhood; that was to come much later, when Filipinos learned to set aside their parochial concerns in favor of a greater good.