WATCH: Artists revive Ryan Cayabyab's patriotic song 'O Bayan Ko'

Mario Dumaual, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 13 2020 02:55 PM | Updated as of Jul 13 2020 03:16 PM

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MANILA -- It was first performed to wide acclaim at the 1998 centenary of Philippine independence at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Twenty-two years after, a new artist collective has revived National Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab’s song “O Bayan Ko”, still ringing with the same patriotic fervor. 

Posted this weekend on Facebook and other social media, the 5-minute clip in black and white produced by the Gabay Kalikasan advocacy also highlights a stirring rendition of the national anthem 
"Lupang Hinirang." 

Under the musical direction of Cayabyab’s daughter Krissa, the video showcases several theater artists and singers like Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, Sheila Francisco, Gian Magdangal, Gab Pangilinan, Jamie Wilson, Jon Santos, Cacai Bautista and others in their interpretation of “ O Bayan Ko,” highlighted by following lyrics: 

“O bayan ko
Kailangan ka mamumulat?
Ang totoo'y nakikita na, pumipikit ka pa
Kailan pa?
Kapag wala ka nang magagawa?
Kapag wala ka nang ibubuga?

"O bayan ko,
Kailangan ka matuto?
Kung ikaw ang kalaban mo, ikaw rin ang susuko
Ngunit kailan?
Kapag wala ka nang magagawa?
Kapag wala ka nang ibubuga?

"O bayan ko
Kailan ka tatayo?
Kay rami nang dugong inalay sa 'yo
O bayan ko
Ang oras ay malapit nang maubos
Bangon na, o bangon bayan
O bayan ko

"Kung magkasama-sama, tinig na sabay-sabay
Susulong ka! Sugod na!
O bayan ko
Kailangan ka tatayo?"

Santos said it was an emotional time for the artists who recorded their portions of “O Bayan Ko” and the whole length of the national anthem earlier this month. 

“Some of us had difficulty finishing it," Santos told ABS-CBN News.” Si Cacai sobra ang luha! Nakakaiyak kasi talaga. I felt privileged that I was part of the ensemble na bumirit ng pagmamahal para sa bayan.”

The composition evokes love of country and the need to make a stand amid silence and apathy on urgent national concerns. 

The work was first performed at the Kulturang Handog para sa Bayang Pilipino at the CCP to celebrate the centennial of the country’s independence. It featured among others Martin Nievera, Rachel Alejandro, Audie Gemora, Cocoy Laurel, Nolyn Cabahug, Edward Granadosin, Monique Wilson, Dessa, Randy Santiago, Grace Nono, Joey Ayala, Roselle Nava, Carlo Orosa, Carol Banawa, Geneva Cruz, Charlene Gonzales and the late Rico Yan. 

In its various iterations in the last two decades, "O Bayan Ko" was utilized in fundraisers for the victims of typhoon Yolanda; and the construction of medical facilities of the University of the Philippines. 

Last May 2020, the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra collaborated with the Ateneo Chamber Singers to give it a new twist in a Zoom video showcase.

In his comment in Sheila Francisco’s Facebook account, Cayabyab said that the song will always have an impact to listeners because it speaks to the heart. 

“Nakakaiyak yan. LAGI!” said the National Artist in his account name Myran Etorsa. 

Lea Salonga also interjected in her comment, “I think we’re going to be singing this song for a long time to come, and look forward to the day we won’t need to anymore.”