When Philippine RnB princess Kyla was interviewed after she was chosen to sing the Philippine National Anthem during the Manny Pacquiao-Marco Antonio Barrera tiff in Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas last Oct. 7, 2007, she said she would come up with the correct version of the song, one that Filipinos would relate to. She made good her promise.
Kyla’s voice has always been good and deceiving. Because it sounds fragile, you’d think it would break when it is forced to soar to higher pitches. Her build is deceiving as well. Beautiful but petite, she reminds you of a girl that is so vulnerable you’d want to protect her. But she is strong-willed, obviously, as shown by her showing in Mandalay Bay.
When Kyla, wearing a white gown, moved to the center of the ring after she was introduced as a recording artist from the Philippines, I remembered the other singers that did the job before her. Most of them were so-so while at least one got out of tune. All of them missed the point, turning the national anthem into a a pop song and believing that vocal gymnastics was the best way to sing it.
When Kyla sang the first lines, I immediately felt the sincerity and noticed the familiar 4/4 beat of old. It was a bit slower but unmistakably measured. Halfway through the song, the Filipinos in the 10,000 plus audience started to sing along, apparently transported back to their school days when they associated the national anthem with untainted loyalty.
Kyla is an RnB princess for nothing. But that Sunday morning (Saturday night in Las Vegas), she did it not to show off, like what previous singers of the national anthem did in major sporting events like this one. No vocal flourishes, only simple singing. But don’t be deceived by the seeming simplicity because the feat needed lots of vocal control and Kyla’s voice is truly exceptional.
For the first time since I watched Pacman’s fights, I connected with the national anthem. In the end, I was almost teary eyed.
–Bong O. Wenceslao, October 9, 2007