Analyzing `Paano Mahalin ang Katulad Mo,’ ‘Ikaw ay Sapat’ and `Iisa’

I should start by apologizing to Lila Rosa for this much-delayed review. In her comment to an old post, she requested a review of three love songs, namely “Paano Mahalin ang Katulad Mo,” “Ikaw ay Sapat” and “Iisa.” The first is from the musical Lean (1997) while the other two are from the album Rosas ng Digma (2001) by Musikang Bayan.

Suffice it to say that Lila Rosa likes these songs very much for reasons both political and sentimental. And who can blame her?

“Paano Mahalin ang Katulad Mo” (interpreted by Cookie Chua, former lead singer of Color It Red) shows the dilemma one faces when he or she falls in love with an activist. A person in love undergoes an “emotional crisis of sorts” when he or she is reminded that the partner-activist’s life is always in danger.

He or she has two choices – either he or she discourages the partner-activist from pursuing the political work the latter does or supports the partner-activist and then prepare himself or herself emotionally for the worst that could happen.

What does one do when faced with this dilemma? Please analyze the lyrics now.

Paano Mahalin ang Katulad Mo

Di ko maikakaila ang pag-aalala
Na sa tuwi-tuwina’y dala-dala
Nangangamba, nangangamba
Na baka mapahamak ka

Dapat sarilinin ko na lang
Kay rami-rami mong pasan-pasan
Baka lalo ka pang mabibigatan

Itatago ko ang aking kaba
At ikukubli ang pangangamba
Ngunit sa dilim
Ay napapansin mo ang takot ko

Ang dinadaing koy para sa iyo
Ang unti-unting matutunan ko
Paano mahalin
Paano mahalin ang katulad mo

Di ko maikakaila ang pag-aalala
Ngunit di ba mas mahalaga
Ang dinggin ka, intindihin ka,
Samahan ka sa bawat pasya

Paano ba ako makakagaang
Paano ba ako makakatuwang
Paano kung ako ay nasasaktan

Itatago ko ang aking kaba
At ikukubli ang pangangamba
Ngunit sa dilim
Ay napapansin mo ang takot ko

Ang dinadaing ko’y para sa iyo
Ang unti-unting matutunan ko

(Counterpoint)
Paano ba ako makakagaang
Paano ba ako makakatuwang

Paano mahalin
Paano mahalin ang katulad mo

(Interlude)

Paano mahalin
Paano mahalin ang katulad mo

The message is clear: Activists have a very dangerous life and there is cogent reason for their loved ones to worry. The kind of understanding, affection and attention one gives to an activist should therefore be very different from someone who lives a “less dangerous” life (or to put it more bluntly, someone who opts to “sell out” to the system).

While the song is very inspiring, a deeper analysis shows that it is ideologically wanting. First of all, is it logical for a person in love to just keep to himself or herself the worries he or she has (Dapat sarilinin ko na lang/Kay rami-rami mong pasan-pasan)? Communication is the cornerstone of any relationship whether bourgeois or proletarian. If one is not transparent about what he or she is going through (including his or her emotional crises), his or her relationship (and even disposition) could be compromised in the future.

That one’s worries are being kept secret in the hope that he or she does not unnecessarily distract the partner-activist from important political tasks is a reflection of being mechanistic and a misinterpretation of dialectics.

A person in love with an activist should realize that the latter, given the nature of his or her political work, does not make the activist any less human. A partner-activist has feelings too, though in a more circumspect and level-headed manner.

This brings us to the dangerous tendency of making distinctions between the personal and political, and their consequent subjection to dialectical analysis. An activist knows that there is no distinction between the personal and political. The personal is political in the sense that an activist does not see the movement as simply a part of his or her life. Instead, the activist sees himself or herself as part of the movement.

It is therefore not advisable to hide one’s worries (Itatago ko ang aking kaba/At ikukubli ang pangangamba) just to “lessen the worries” of the partner-activist. In order to assuage one’s fears, it is best that he or she inform the activist about them.

The next song, “Ikaw ay Sapat,” could be considered a progressive interpretation of a popular saying nowadays between two people in love: “You complete me!” Unlike “Paano Mahalin ang Katulad Mo,” this song clearly makes no distinction between the personal and political, as the love one professes for another is seen as part of the overall struggle for meaningful change. Please analyze the song’s lyrics below:

Ikaw ay Sapat

Umaawit ang puso ko
Naglalakbay patungo sa ‘yo
Dumadalaw man ang nakaraan
Sa piling mo ay handang maghintay

* Kahit malayo, panahon ay salat
Ikaw ang kulang na sa aki’y sapat

** Pagkat ikaw ang pag-ibig kong tunay
Sa ating sumpa ay tapat
Pagkat bahagi ka ng aking buhay
Kasama sa paglayang hangad

Pag-ibig ko’y di magbabago
Magtagal man ang digmaang ito
Ating pagkilos at pagmamahal
Anong alab ma’y handang magbigay

(Repeat *)
(Repeat **)

Pagkat ikaw ang pag-ibig kong tunay
Sa ating sumpa ay tapat
Pagkat bahagi ka ng aking buhay
Kasama sa paglayang ganap

Kahit malayo, panahon ay salat
Ikaw ang kulang na sa aki’y sapat

Don’t you notice how integral love is to the activist? He or she gives a clear message that the loved one is part of his or her life and is integral to the freedom desired (Pagkat bahagi ka ng aking buhay/Kasama sa paglayang hangad). The word hangad (desired) is noticeably changed towards the end to ganap (completed). This shows the seriousness on the part of the activist to nurture the relationship as he or she works towards attaining genuine freedom.

I think this is what distinguishes a hopeless romantic from a committed activist. The first has a tendency to fall out of love as quickly as he or she falls deeply into it, while the second has a more pragmatic and serious view of love (Pagkat ikaw ang pag-ibig kong tunay…).

The only issue I have with “Ikaw ay Sapat” is the following lines: “Kahit malayo, panahon ay salat/Ikaw ang kulang na sa aki’y sapat.” The loose translation of the last line is “You are the one missing which for me is enough.” In my opinion, there is something awkward about how the last line is phrased. I am sure that the activist does not mean to give a message that it is okay with him if the object of affection is not by his or her side.

I think the intended message is the actual title of the song, i.e., that the loved one is enough for an activist to be motivated to continue living a life of countless sacrifice and hardship. This is unfortunately now clear in the line “Ikaw ang kulang na sa aki’y sapat.”

The last song “Iisa” shows how those involved in the armed struggle prefer to be married (i.e., in front of the red flag or bandilang pula). Just like “Ikaw ay Sapat,” there is no distinction between the personal and political, as love between two people is appreciated in the context of their political tasks.

Iisa

Ihaharap kita sa bandilang pula
Tanda ng aking di magmamaliw na sumpa
Sa ‘yo at sa pakikibaka

* Pagmamahal, pagkaiingatan
Kagaya ng aking tanging pagpapahalaga
Sa ‘yo at sa pakikibaka

** Hindi mag-iisa pagkat laging magkasama
Ang ating pagsuyo’y bahagi ng iisa

(Repeat *)
(Repeat **)

Ikuyom ang mga bala sa ating mga palad
Saksi ang mga masa sa ating paglalahad
Na hindi mag-iisa at palaging magkasama
Ang ating pagsuyo’y bahagi ng iisa

One cannot be blamed if this song is considered too serious (or in activist lingo, GND or grim and determined). Those who have decided to take their struggle seriously are naturally expected to take love also seriously. They profess their love for each other not just in front of relatives and friends but also in front of the masses in whose name they struggle for change.

These three songs should motivate the blogger to analyze the intended message of songs both alternative and commercial. Thank you for reading.

5 thoughts on “Analyzing `Paano Mahalin ang Katulad Mo,’ ‘Ikaw ay Sapat’ and `Iisa’”

  1. this is such a great review prof.danny. Thanks for granting my request. I agree on you on the part of Sapat,those very same lines c0nfused me when i first heard the s0ng but nevertheless it still remains as one of my fave s0ngs in the album. Your review sort of explain/elab0rate why I am very much into these s0ngs. Again,thank you and m0re power. :) il b ar0und reading your blogs as usual

    Reply: You’re most welcome. I wish you and your loved one all the best!

  2. the review is worth reading. but, unlike lila (my daughter’s name is leela…),x the line “ikaw ang kulang na sa akin ay sapat” never did confused me. it made me ask my self why i never wrote that simple yet profound line.

    all those 3 songs will surely forever be an all-time favorite for me, among others.

    Reply: Thank you for your comment. I guess my “confusion” arises from trying to interpret the line more literally than figuratively. Yes, there is something profound about that particular line but I just wonder why most of the other lines in the song are more literal than figurative, at least in my opinion. If we were to refer to a song that’s profound, “American Pie” by Don McLean and “Questions” by Manfred Manns come to mind. Most, if not all, of the lines of the two songs can be subjected to various interpretations. In any case, I thank you for your valuable input.

  3. hay..sobrang mahal namin ang kantang “ikaw ay sapat” , “rosas ng digma” at maging ang kanta ni joey ayala na ” Walang Hanggang Paalam”.. Iba talaga magmahal ang mga aktibista. Akala mo puro sigaw lang at puro bayan ang alam mahalin ngunit kung tutuusin mas malalim silang magmahal (opinyon lang po) :) Saka naiintindihan nila ang sitwasyon mo..mahirap lang talaga magkaroon ng karelasyong hindi mo kasama sa pakikibaka. :)

    *ang late ng comment ko.:)

    Sagot: Maraming salamat sa komento. Mabuhay ka!

  4. I would just like to point out the error in Iisa’s lyrics. It’s “Kagaya ng aking tanging pagpapahalaga”

    :D thank you

    Reply: Thanks for your comment! I appreciate it.

  5. i was also an activist way back in my college days i was a graduate student from well known school of activist: PUP
    ever since i was in highschool i’m really interested in activism. but unfortunately when i enter college i took up business education course. were joining any progressive organizations is strictly not allowed, but as time goes by.. when i was in my 2nd year my friend introduced me in certain organization, we talked about school and political issues. i really like joining them but our college is really strict about activism our college professors are against to our school activist. the fear to my professors failed me to attend any rally and educational discussion our group should attend. but when my 3rd year comes the fire in my heart keeps on burning, and i find myself walking to our organization’s cubicle. from then i was an active activist. there i met “bob” a new member of our org, a philisophy student he’s simple and cute and the passion in what he is doing made me admire him. i’m always with him, in every rally, discussion, activity and also outside organizations activities. i like him. i really do, but unfortunately he is in a relationship with a not activist girl from other university. he used to sing me “rosas ng digma and iisa” which mademe remind him everytime i hear that song. when he and his KR (karelasyon) broke up i already has a mutual relationship with a guy from our university but also not an activist. when i lost communication with that guy bob told me that he and inday are now in good terms again. it seems time is not with us. i know we feel the same way but never had a chance to talk about it. until i graduated college and he was left in our university, i lost communication with him i also heared that he already went there. i know from the start he was my soul mate, eventhough were not together i know sumday, sumwer we will. the song ” i could have said” is a song for him every letters and words of that song i dedicated to him. the line “But before you have left to the hills and the mountains I wish I could have said, “I love you.” really describes what i feel for him. now i’m no longer an activist but i still consider myself cause i still believe in our principle. serve the people! serve the country! now i’m in a relationship with the guy i have mutual understandng i have mentioned a while ago. and bob is a full time activist. but still the feelings and memories i had with bob is still burning as well as my passion in serving the country.

    Reply: Thank you for sharing this story. All the best!

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