Should NHC interfere in creative treatment of GMA-7's cinematic version of Philippine national anthem?

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Some historical scenes featured in GMA-7's cinematic version of "Lupang Hinirang"—(clockwise) Marian Rivera playing a nun's role during EDSA Revolution, Dingdong Dantes as Gregorio del Pilar, Richard Gutierrez as Manuel Quezon, and Marvin Agustin as Dr. Jose Rizal.


"Erroneous advice."

This is how GMA-7 called the decision of National Historical Commission (NHC) regarding the network's cinematic version of "Lupang Hinirang," which is now showing in SM cinemas and airing on television.

The advice was issued by NHC Chief of Heraldry and Display Section Teddy Atienza, who—according to the Kapuso station's letter dated November 30 and addressed to NHC Chair Dr. Ambeth Ocampo—intervened in the "synchronization of the National Anthem with the cinematic images."

The original version would show that "the National Anthem starts playing at some later point and continues to play until the last frame, thus encompassing the scenes of GMA personalities standing at attention with their right palms over their left chests."

It was initially approved by Atienza, according to GMA-7, then pulled out subsequently because the stars in the video were not singing "Lupang Hinirang."

The video showed reenactment of historical highlights—such as Lapu-Lapu's victory over Magellan, The Cry of Pugadlawin, the execution of Jose Rizal, the Proclamation of Independence Day, the Hero of Tirad Pass, the Commonwealth Government, World War II, and the EDSA Revolution—featuring GMA-7's brightest stars.

Atienza's advice compelled GMA Network to edit the material so that the anthem is completed before the TV personalities appear.

Thus, in the current version, "the National Anthem starts playing after Dr. Jose Rizal's execution scene and ends as the 1986 People Power scene ends.

The subsequent scenes show GMA Entertainment and News and Public Affairs personalities standing at attention with their right palms over their left chests but with only a drum sound for the background," GMA said.

Upon review, however, GMA-7 found no legal basis for Atienza's withdrawal.

Section 38 of R.A. 8491 or the "Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines" states: "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."

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GMA-7 said that "the requirement in the law that the anthem be sung when it is played is directed to the attending public, meaning those present in a public gathering where the anthem is played. The term 'attending public' refers to warm bodies, not images on video. Since the audio-visual material is intended to be played in SM cinemas, the attending public in these venues are the moviegoers. The GMA personalities shown in the audio-visual material are part of the audio-visual material and are not part of the attending public."

Lastly, GMA-7 asserted that Atienza "saw a problem when there was none," and that Atienza's "expanded application of the provision" interfered with its right to artistic expression.

To get NHC's side, PEP (Philippine Enetrtainment Portal) sent an email to the two addresses listed in the website. We have not received any feedback to date. As soon as we get word from them, PEP will readily publish it.


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