Christian Bernard A. Melendez
Senior Shrine Curator, Museo ng Katipunan-PMS

We are all familiar with our National Anthem – the Lupang Hinirang. Ever since we went to school, we were taught how it should be sung and when it should be played. The anthem was played for the first time after the proclamation of Philippine Independence in the residence of Emilio Aguinaldo in Kawit, Cavite. The music, without any lyrics, was composed by Julian Felipe. Only after a year were the lyrics written by Jose Palma.

Unbeknown to many, there is a song that should have been our national anthem, written earlier than the one we have right now. The Marangal na Dalit ng Katagalugan was composed by Julio Nakpil, while the revolution was on-going. Because of the power struggles within the Katipunan, this hymn was never adopted by the revolutionary government.

The Composer and His Situation

Julio Nakpil was a professional pianist and musician. Prior to the revolution, he taught music and played in Malacañan on many occasions. He had also written numerous musical compositions before and after the revolution. When the sons of the nation revolted against the Spaniards, Julio Nakpil joined the Katipunan and served as the General of the revolutionaries in the north of Manila.

Because of his mastery with music, Andres Bonifacio asked Nakpil to write a song for the revolution when they were in Balara in November 1896. Three months after, on 13 February 1897, when Bonifacio was in Cavite, he sent a letter addressed to Nakpil telling him he did receive the hymn.

The Replacement

What happened next in the Katipunan’s history after a month, Bonifacio received the hymn during the infamous Tejeros Convention. As this convention ended with Bonifacio’s nullification of the election results, the rift between the Magdiwang and Magdalo factions became apparent. It became a battle of supremacy between the old Katipunan led by Bonifacio and the newly-formed Revolutionary Government led by President-elect Emilio Aguinaldo. And the succeeding two months of internal rift within the group resulted in the death of Andres Bonifacio.

With his death and the assumption of leadership by Emilio Aguinaldo, everything turned around especially for those allied with Andres Bonifacio. Julio Nakpil’s composition was not officially used as the revolution’s hymn but rather the Marcha Filipino Magdalo, which later became the Lupang Hinirang.

Appropriation and Rendition

There are two versions of song written by Nakpil. First is the Marangal na Dalit ng Katagalugan, while the second version replaced the word Katagalugan in the title to Sangkalupaan to make it inclusive of all Filipinos from other regions. Alterations to the lyrics were also done as seen below:



Mabuhay, Mabuhay yaong Kalayaan, Kalayaan
At pasulungin ang puri’t kabanalan
Kastila’y mailing ng Katagalugan
At ngayo’y ipagwagi ang kahusayan
Mabuhay, Mabuhay yaong Kalayaan, Kalayaan
At pasulungin ang puri’t kabanalan
Kastila’y mailing ng Katagalugan
At ngayo’y ipagwagi ang kahusayan



Mabuhay, mabuhay ang Sangkalupaan

At ngayo’y ipagdiwang ang Kalayaan,

Ang pamimiyapis siyang pagsikapan

At Kastila’y mamatay sa Kasamaan.

Mabuhay, mabuhay ang Sangkalupaan

At ngayo’y ipagdiwang ang Kalayaan,

Kayang wagayway bandilang Kamahalan

Kastila’y maining ng Sangdaigdigan.


Although it was set aside after the death of Bonifacio, Julio Nakpil reused the composition of the Marangal na Dalit ng Katagalugan later on. During the eighth year commemoration of Jose Rizal’s martyrdom, Nakpil re-wrote the hymn and changed its title to Salve Patria. The revised song was first performed at the Teatro Zorilla on 30 December 1904. 170 musicians performed the song and it was critically acclaimed by the audience. This score was written with twenty-six bars and two main sections. The first section is in the key of C while the second section is in the key of F.

Unfortunately, the remaining copies of the score were destroyed during the World War II Battle of Manila in 1945. Julio Nakpil, in his eighties, reconstructed the song through his memories.


The Leader’s Choice is the Nation’s Voice?

The struggle for independence, alas, became a struggle for supremacy—whomever is victorious dictates the direction of the nation’s policies. The ideologies of the triumphant leader will shape and affect the nation’s sense of nationhood—from selecting national emblems to implementing state and international policies. Aguinaldo’s preference of the Lupang Hinirang over the Marangal na Dalit ng Katagalugan is an example. But in today’s world, there are more serious policies and principles a leader can implement to direct and influence the nation’s well-being—which the sons of the nation should examine and be cognizant of.

If in an alternate universe, Bonifacio remained as the leader of the revolution, Filipinos nowadays would have been humming a different tune. They would have memorized a different set of lyrics and sung a different melody.

But that’s an intriguing speculative viewpoint in the fictional annals of alternative  Philippine history.



The Light of Liberty: Documents and Studies on the Katipunan, 1892-1897; Jim Richardson

Saysay Himig: A Sourcebook on Philippine Music History, 1880-1941; Arwin Q. Tan, Editor

Kasaysayan: The Story of the Filipino People, Volume 5 Reform and Revolution