Whether you follow Manny Pacquiao's fights religiously or simply tuned in to watch his fight against Oscar de la Hoya, you have heard the all-too-familiar Philippine National Anthem "Lupang Hinirang" at the opening of his fights. But who exactly are these Pinays chosen to sing at these fights? Here is a list of some of these songstresses, along with videos of their performances:
Jennifer Bautista - Pacquiao v. Morales II (1-22-06)
Bautista was an up and coming artist at the time, having just launched her first album a few months prior to her Vegas performance. She is infamous for going off-key on the song's last word, taking too much "vocal liberty," and giving an overall so-so performance. However, she is not the only singer to receive such criticism...
Sarah Geronimo - Pacquiao v. Morales III (11-18-06)
Former PBA commissioner Rudy Salud suggested child star turned pop princess Sarah Geronimo to sing the Philippine anthem to his good friend Manny Pacquiao, to which he immediately agreed. Like Jennifer Bautista, Geronimo was criticized for her performance. Davao City councilor Nilo Abellara stated that her interpretation was "kundiman [love song]-like." He filed a resolution the public that the "proper" way to sing the anthem is mandated by a law created in 1998 stating that a "rendition of the National Anthem, whether played or sung, shall be in accordance with the musical arrangement and composition of Julian Felipe,” the anthem's original composer. Singers who break this law can be fined up to P50,000, be imprisoned for a year, or both.
Geneva Cruz - Pacquiao v. Solis (4-14-07)
Geneva Cruz is one of the many members of Philippine show business' "Cruz Clan," consisting of various talents like actress Sunshine Cruz and actor Rayver Cruz. Critics dealt Cruz a variety of blows, with some claiming she sang it like a love song and others remarking that it sounded like a funeral tune. A spokesman of the National Historical Institute reiterated what Abellara had said after Geronimo's performance, stating that the song is originally meant to sound like a "brisk march," with "vigorous singing, a full-throated song that begins and closes in one minute."
Kyla - Pacquiao v. Barrera II (10-6-07)
Born Melanie Hernandez Calumpiad, Kyla started doing amateur singing competitions at the age of 10 and won her first major contest when she was 12. With seven albums and countless awards, she is often dubbed the "R&B Princess," though she is also known for singing pop and soul and is highly acclaimed for her versatility. After being chosen to sing the anthem for Pacquiao, she promised that she would sing a "correct version" of the song, "one that Filipinos would relate to," most likely in light of the attacks on previous performances. Many critics say she held true to this promise by singing "Lupang Hinirang" more "traditionally" and not rendering it into a pop song.
Ciara Sotto - Pacquiao v. Marquez II (3-15-08)
Although known mainly for her work in television, Ciara Sotto received highly positive reviews for her rendition of "Lupang Hinirang". Just months after her performance, she launched her second album If You Love Me. Sotto comes from a "prominent show biz family": her mother is actress Helen Gamboa, her father is comedian and former senator Tito Sotto, her uncle is actor Vic Sotto, and her cousin is singer/actress/talk show hostess Sharon Cuneta.
[Sotto's Performance] (starts at 2:15)
Karylle Tatlonghari - Pacquiao v. De La Hoya (12-6-08)
The daughter of Philippine icon and singer Zsazsa Padilla, Karylle was handpicked by the Pac-Man to open his most recent fight. She is an acclaimed singer, having been awarded various awards for her music. She also has experience as an actress in film, television, and theater, such as her performance as Maria in the Philippine production of West Side Story. Despite her success, she admitted feeling nervous during her rendition of "Lupang Hinirang," and some say this showed in her performance.
With all that said, what are your opinions on these various interpretations of the Philippine National Anthem? Who would you like to see perform "Lupang Hinirang" for Pacquiao's next match? Why haven't any male singers been chosen to open Pacquiao's fights?