By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – It has been a year since P-pop group SB19 released the song “Mapa,” a tribute to their parents and those instrumental in their journey to “world domination.” Yet their recent performance of the song, coupled with a new arrangement in the Wish Bus USA, triggered yet another wave of reaction videos online.
The story goes that while they were doing household chores, SB19’s leader Pablo asked his team: what do you want to tell your parents? He then wrote the lyrics and the P-Pop group later collaborated with Jay Durias (the music genius behind Filipino band South Border) to produce the song, which has now gathered 78 million views and counting.
In the song, “Mapa” is not only a portmanteau of “mama” and “papa” but it also refers to how their parents were their “mata” or eyes (Dahil ikaw ang aking mata. Sa t’wing mundo’y nag-iiba. Ang dahilan ng aking paghinga) and “paa” or feet (Dahil ikaw ang aking paa. Sa t’wing ako’y gagapang na. Ang dahilan ng aking paghinga) in the challenges they face, and how the lessons they learned from them will be their map that will guide them in their future endeavors (Pagka’t dala ko ang mapa, sa’n man mapunta alam kung sa’n nag mula).
But to answer the question – why did “Mapa” resonate with the people? One plausible explanation was the timing of its release. That while it pays tribute to parents, there is also a hint of goodbye in the song (‘Di ko na sasayangin pa’ng mga natitirang paghinga. Tutungo na kung sa’n naro’n ang mahalaga) to loved ones.
In the months leading to the uploading of the lyric video on their official YouTube channel, the Philippines was recording all-time highs in the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths – the second-highest in Southeast Asia after Indonesia around this time. The World Health Organization, in its April 2021 report, said most of the COVID-19 deaths belonged to the age group over 70 (35.3 percent) followed by the age group 60-69 years (27.7 percent).
Grieving was also difficult for those who lost their loved ones to other diseases, with strict mobility guidelines still in place such as funeral services being limited to immediate household members and not more than 10. (Kaya ‘wag mag-alala. Ipikit ang ‘yong mata, tahan na. Pahinga muna, ako na’ng bahala)
Apart from grieving for the death of a loved one, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that grief may also be experienced by other types of losses such as unemployment and loss or reduced support services. “These losses can happen at the same time, which can complicate or prolong grief and delay a person’s ability to adapt, heal, and recover.”
These the Filipino people continue to face, an all-time high of 7.7 inflation rate as of October 2022 while salaries remain low. Independent thinktank Ibon Foundation recently assailed how the Philippine government is trumpeting the so-called rapid growth in the country’s economy but “ignoring how millions of Filipinos are struggling to cope amid the poor jobs situation, low incomes, and worsening poverty, which are further compounded by high prices and lack of government support and assistance.”
For one, in the face of rising unemployment, Filipino students took it upon themselves to juggle either full-time or part-time work and online school, while their parents were either laid off from work or, worse, were afflicted with the dreaded virus. (Labis pa sa labis ang ‘yong nagawa. Mama/Papa, pahinga muna. Ako na).
SB19’s Pablo has since won the Composer of the Year award from the Village Pipol Choice Awards 2021. The song also received at least three recognitions from the recently-concluded Awit Awards namely the most streamed song, best vocal arrangement, and best performance by a group recording artist.
Rightly so, the song Mapa acknowledged and captured the grief that many Filipino families are experiencing. The song is a balm to the bruised hearts and dreams of young Filipinos, but at the same time shows their resolve to carry on (Ma, Pa. Pahinga muna. Ako na).
The author is proudly taga-manukan, and ships Kentell.
If you are experiencing grief and loss and need help coping, you may check CDC’s article here.