Mnemonic Entrepreneurship and Trans(articu)lation of the Philippine National Anthem

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Patterned after the Spanish and French national hymns; the Philippine national anthem; the Lupang Hinirang; was originally composed as an instrumental piece on which lyrics in Spanish were later added. Then translated into English until its current version in Filipino; the song is now canonised by law and rituals. In this essay; I discuss translation and memory into two sections: one that looks into the visible and official facets of the anthem; another that scrutinises its spectral and archival characteristics. The first part analyses aspects of the “Lupang Hinirang”s inter-linguistic translations; its evolution from archive to canon and its status as lieu de mémoire. As such; I draw mainly from Michael Coroza; Theo Hermans; Aleida Assman; and Pierre Nora. In the second section; I re-examine the anthem by drawing from theories of translation as afterlife and survival; and memory as trace and archival. I argue that the Philippine national anthem is a product of mnemonic entrepreneurs and mnemonic trans(articu)lation. Mnemonic entrepreneurs include translators; people and institutions that intervene in discursive positions that determine what is to be remembered and forgotten. Mnemonic trans(articu)lation combines the aspects of memory; translation; and articulation. Articulation; as coined by Stuart Hall; implies the ways in which one is positioned by and how one positions others within the shifting powers in socio-politico-cultural relations. As such; mnemonic trans(articu)lation indicates how memory and translation politics and practices travel and thrive within cultural and historical hegemony. Lastly; since a national anthem is expected to represent a nation; I conclude with some reflections on the re-translatability of the nation.