Hotdog’s OPM classic Manila electrified the parade of Philippine athletes at the 30th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games opening ceremony at the Philippine Arena on Saturday, November 30.
Post-event, some questions were raised on the appropriateness of the song choice, whether or not it was inclusive enough to “unite the nation” to root for Team Philippines.
The song, titled after the capital of the Philippines, was written by Hotdog bassist Dennis Garcia and composed by his late brother and Hotdog lead singer Rene Garcia.
Seemingly reacting to comments that Manila was not “inclusive” or “representative” enough of the Philippines, Dennis took to his Facebook account to say his piece.
“Rene & I created Manila not thinking of ourselves as Tagalogs, Bisayans or Ilokanos but as Filipinos missing the Philippines,” he wrote in a public Facebook post on Sunday. It was addressed to no one in particular.
In a comment, Dennis also said that he had no intention of alienating Filipinos who are not from Manila.
“When we were teens, all planes from abroad landed in Manila, and only in Manila. So months after we landed from a year-long gig in Hawaii… my mindset in writing about missing the Motherland was… Manila. No intention of excluding any of my kababayans from the song’s sentiments.”
Beyond the “place-specific” title, the 1976 OPM hit has often been regarded as an ode to OFWs or Filipinos going overseas to work and pining for their homeland.
Nevertheless, presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio questioned the song choice in an Instagram post early Sunday, suggesting the song did not speak to Filipinos outside Manila.
“Di po ba Philippine flag ang dala? Why would you play the song Manila? Did Lapu-Lapu die for Manila? Wag po natin gawing excuse ang upbeat danceable song. Kami nagimbento ng budots. Kaloko man oie. We should be inclusive when we want to encourage our countrymen to cheer. Yes, nega ako, bakit? I am a Filipino but I don’t have one drop of Tagalog blood in me. Pure Vismin by birth and Ilocos by marriage. #bastabisayahilas add na natin German American for the glam.”
Based on yesterday’s SEA Games opening, President Duterte appeared to have no issue with the song.
He was seen joining in the celebratory mood at the 55,000 seater venue, where the crowd sang along and grooved to the beat of Manila while cheering on the Philippine contingent with Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach as muse.
This reception earlier delighted the member of the band credited for pioneering the Manila Sound phenom in the early ’70s, with now-OPM classics such as Annie Batungbakal, Bongga Ka Day, Beh, Buti Nga, Bitin Sa ‘Yo, Ikaw Ang Miss Universe Ng Buhay Ko, Langit Na Naman, among others.