How “UP Naming Mahal” Came to Be

Sometime in the early 1920s, a contest was held to give expression to that elusive thing—the “UP Spirit.” A contest was held to select the lyrics to be put to music, and both words and notes were to move both students and alumni to recall what it meant to belong to the University of the Philippines. The winning entry was written by Teogenes Velez, a Liberal Arts student.

Then another contest was held to set the winning poem to music. Legend has it that a student at the Conservatory of Music, Nicanor Abelardo, had just returned home from a town fiesta in Pampanga and his wife reminded him of the contest’s deadline, which was noon of that same day. Whereupon the young man sat down and in just one hour had the piece ready, and was able to submit it on time.

The song, “UP Beloved,” was first sung before a UP audience in 1917. And from then on it has been a party of all UP activities.

The Filipino version, “UP Naming Mahal,” is a composite from seven translations received by a screening committee, which found none of them fully satisfactory, and contributed some lines themselves. Today, the song is as much an emblem of the UP spirit as the famous Oblation.

(The original key of the composition is B Flat major, which is too high for the average vocal range. Professor Hilarion Rubio of the Conservatory of Music suggested that it be in the key of G major and should be sung in the original tempo of eighty quarter notes in one minute.)

U.P. Naming Mahal

U.P. naming mahal
Pamantasang hirang
Ang tinig namin
Sana’y inyong dinggin

Malayong lupain
Amin mang marating
Di rin magbabago ang damdamin
Di rin magbabago ang damdamin

Luntian at pula
Sagisag magpakailanman
Ating ipagdiwang bulwagan ng dangal

Humayo’t itanghal, giting at tapang
Mabuhay ang pag-asa ng bayan
Mabuhay ang pag-asa ng bayan

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