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“Paru-Parong Bukid” is actually a poor translation of “Mariposa Bella”

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Few people know that the popular Tagalog folk song Paru-Parong Bukid is actually a poor translation/rendition of the Spanish original which is entitled Mariposa Bella.

The original Spanish song was composed during the tumultuous decade of the 1890s. When the genocide of Spanish-speaking Filipinos commenced during the American invasion, the song itself was included in the casualty — little by little, many people started to forget it especially when the Thomasites began the English-language campaign in the country. The final nail in the coffin happened in 1938 when the Paru-Parong Bukid that we are all familiar with was released by Sampaguita Pictures as a soundtrack for the movie of the same name (it starred legendary actors Rudy Concepción and Rosario Moreno).

Of course, I haven’t seen the movie; but I can diss its accompanying theme song con mucho gusto.

In 1960, Señor Guillermo Gómez Rivera (who was then doing radio production work on a DZFM program called “La Voz Hispanofilipina” made a research on Filipino songs which were sung in Spanish. His research resulted in a bestselling 1962 LP entitled Nostalgia Filipina.

Fifty years later, some friends of Señor Gómez demanded that he re-release Nostalgia Filipina in CD format for the sake of today’s generation. And with the help of the Instituto Cervantes de Manila, the Spanish Program for Cultural Cooperation, and the Ministerio de Cultura of the Spanish Embassy in Manila, Nostalgia Filipina was relaunched in CD format on 14 August 2007.

My contertulio in Círculo Hispanofilipino, fonsucu, uploaded Mariposa Bella in the YouTube video below:

Here are the lyrics.

Mariposa bella
de mi tierra inmortal
es la filipina
en su traje natal,
que ostenta unas mangas
con gracejo y sal
y saya de cola
de una pieza de percal.

Con peineta de carey ¡uy!
y un pañuelo coquetón,
y enaguas de ojetes
que la roza el talón,
con el tápiz real
sobre el talle sutil
y es la mariposa
del malayo pensil.

Con peineta de carey ¡uy!
y un pañuelo coquetón,
y enaguas de ojetes
que le roza el talón,
con el tápiz real
sobre el talle sutil
y es la mariposa
del malayo pensil.

Mariposa bella
de mi tierra inmortal
es la filipina
en su traje natal,
que ostenta unas mangas
con gracejo y sal
y saya de cola
de una pieza de percal.

Con peineta de carey ¡uy!
y un pañuelo coquetón,
y enaguas de ojetes
que le roza el talón,
con el tápiz real
sobre el talle sutil
y es la mariposa
del malayo pensil.

¡Olé!

With Jesli Lapus’ efforts in bringing back the Spanish language into our educational system, hopefully all Filipino folk songs that were sung in their original Spanish lyrics will be brought back to our airwaves. Right where they belong.

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34 responses »

  1. Hearing the lleismo brings a smile to my face. Means there’s still hope for Castellano after all.

    Reply
    • Yes of course! So let’s continue patronizing the TRUE Filipino language which is Spanish.

      Reply
      • señor pepe, with all due respect, but when did spanish become the true filipino language? according to many stuff that i read, majority of filipinos long ago didn’t speak it.
        anyhoo, i wonder if i’m heard it right, but in some portions of the song, the R’s sounded like english R’s. tama ba ‘yon?

        Reply
        • Anthony Rivera

          Austronesian has always been the true Filipino language. The language was very complex, but Europeans forced us to learn roman letters. Spanish administration have always oppressed Filipinos. The Filipino-Spanish or mestizos were taught to believe that they are a few steps better than a pure Filipino.

          Just look at Spain today. They are still under a police state. Very oppressive government. No offense to my Spanish relatives…

          Reply
  2. I think people are mmissing the point. The same kind of plagiarism/piracy/theft has been happening to Visayan songs. The 1933 vintage Cebuano Christmas carol “Kasadya ning Takna-a composed by Vicente Rubi and Mariano Vestil was rendered into Ang Pasko ay Sumapit without any attribution of the original composers. Likewise Sa Kabukiran of Manuel Velez was Tagalized without attribution of the original composer. Also, Cesar Mirasol’s Ang Kailo Nga Binayaan, an Ilonggo song copyrighted by the composer in the 1940s is being passed as Tagalog, Ibanag and Ilocano song without attribution of the original composer. A Orilla del Pasig by Echegoyen is sung in Ibanag without Attribution.

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Manuel. I’m unfamiliar with the details with what you relayed to us here. But you know, I won’t be surprised anymore if they are true. Here in the Philippines –or perhaps all throughout the world– the powers-that-be are experts in twisting the truth for their own benefit. Likewise, US imperialists manipulate their powerful local lackeys to achieve their vile end.

      Reply
  3. So may we see the proper translation to Mariposa Bella?

    Pepe said: “So let’s continue patronizing the TRUE Filipino language which is Spanish.”

    Why? What makes Spanish a TRUE Filipino language? We were already here before the Spaniards came. What was our TRUE language before that?

    Reply
  4. This folk song, Mariposa Bella, is part and parcel of our true identity as Filipinos. Sadly, it was in a way “desecrated” when it was translated into Tagalog.

    Sa isáng bandá, ayos lang namán na may traducción o salin sa Tagalog ang canta na itó. But the problem is that the Spanish original is not being cited.

    Now here’s the latest blogpost I wrote regarding another part and parcel of the Filipino Identity:
    http://filipinoscribbles.wordpress.com/2009/11/20/desecrating-the-philippine-flag/

    It’s about our flag. Soon, government officials will add a ninth ray to it. It is aggravating to note that the leaders of our government are at the forefront of destroying what is truly Philippine.

    Reply
  5. can you publish the tagalog version? i grew up in manila in the 40s and 50s but now live in the united states. i have taught my older grandchildren a few spanish and tagalog songs. i now have a toddler grandson who i want to teach other songs too.

    it is sad that during the nationalization of the philippines, anything passed down by “foreign powers” which became part of filipino culture was regarded as “bad” for the psyche. i think those of us who grew up in the philippines have a richer culture than those who grew up with just one.

    Reply
  6. Con respecto al comentario de Don Pixart, sus pareceres no me sorprenden para nada. Pues él articula una perspectiva bien arraigada entre la apabullante mayoría ng mga Pinoy.

    Nothing good eventuated from Spanish domination. How wonderful it is that the Hispanic facet has been purged absolutely from ang Inang Bayan. Mirabile visu!

    Consider the assertion: The Philippines would not exist as such absent the three centuries of Spanish rule. One would be hard put to find a Pinoy who subscribes to the foregoing as most would find the assertion utterly execrable.

    Lo lamento muchísimo pero así es. ¡Como quisiera que la situación fuera distinta!

    Reply
  7. The link below is my Spanish translation of this blogpost:

    http://alasfilipinas.blogspot.com/2009/11/mariposa-bella-paru-parong-bukid.html

    ¡Saludos a todos!

    Reply
  8. Señor Pixart
    La única y primera lengua de Filipinas como unión de tribus fue el español. El tagalog fue una imposición, y del inglés, mejor no hablar, pues nos costó 3 millones de muertos.

    Reply
  9. Language changes in the passage of time. Conquests of foreigners require the imposition of their own language and culture for assimilation and need for communication. One cannot say that Paru-parung Bukid is a poor translation of the Spanish Mariposa Bella because songs are handed down in a manner that a pidgin translation is done because itis understood as such. There is no careful translation that occurred probably because there were no serious translators during that time. Now that discvery was unearthed, why not try to make an accurate translation of the original Spanish version. At least, we can thank the Filipino version handed down to us that has become part of our heritage. Anyway, the artist who sang it in Filipino didn’t accumulate millions from royalties. I enjoy teaching this song to my kids when they were still young and I still relish to sing it to little kids. Whether it’s a poor translation, still I count it part of our Filipino culture.

    Reply
  10. sorry but tagalog is not part of my culture!

    Reply
  11. All the comments are interesting. This is the first time I heard of Spanish-speaking Filipinos genocide. How come the Ayalas, Madrigals, Sorianos, (even the Lopezes) have survived this genocide? They have not even talked about it. US Imperialists? Who treated Filipinos better ..the Spaniards? And why are so many Filipinos going to America? The Philippines would have become like the Hawaiian islands if the Americans kept the islands…it would be clean and organized for zoning will be respected …. no squatters … lesser corruption …and yes, we will also have our freedom. There will always a big group of good Americans who would fight eveil just like all those white people who helped the black people fight racism.

    AND DO YOU ACTUALLY PREFER WHAT WE HAVE NOW? The Filipinos have had years and years to govern themselves and what have we done? Now we have Koreans all over the place.

    Reply
  12. @ AwitKilawit – With how bad things are now and how much better they were before. I can’t blame you for wanting the Americans back. But that would be a bit over the top. No one should run the country but us alone but anyway, do you really believe that the US left us? I hope you’re not that naive.

    Reply
  13. Awit, you are partially right

    Independence was given to Philippines in a very bad moment, the country was destroyed after the American-Japanese war. The reconstruction of the country should have been paid by the americans as the war USA vs Japan and not Japan vs Filipinas, but as americans gave independence they avoided paying ( what a wise movement!), instead paying the reconstruction, they financed ( with loans) recontruction… it was in fact a great deal for the americans, instead paying their bills, they received money.

    If the end of american influence has happened at the same time than Cuba, Philippines would probably had never been invaded by Japan, because if the country had been independent the “pro axis” influence had been more important than it was, and a neutral status ( such as Sweden of Swiss) had been the more probable one.

    Regarding the genocide… even the nazis left some jews in Europe, of course the spanish speaking genocide was not complete in Philippines. In fact there were two “genocides”:
    1st one during the Filipino-American war 1898-1902, the american army killed around 1 million!! philippinos who embraced the total independence idea(that was around 15% of the total population of the country on those times). Many of those philippinos were educated people with political ideals, and on those times education was provided in spanish. around a 30%-50% of the killed are supposed to have been filipino spanish speakers. So theoricallty it was not a lingüistic genocide, but it worked that way, and the spanish speaking population declined vigorously on those times. But of course many still survived as the ones you mentioned.

    2nd happened during WWII. American troops bombed Manila in a brutal way, Manila is most bombed city in WWII after Warsaw. So the casualties of civil population are big. Around 300000 people died in Manila then. And in Ermita and Malate on those times spanish was the lingua franca, and the main language of at least 50% of the population, and in Intramuros situation was quite similar,being spanish the lingua franca, and the main language for a figure of 25-50% of the total people of Intramuros.
    So 100000 of those 300000 killed by the American bombings were spanish spakers.

    After this, the spanish community died, spanish speakers survided WWII, but just in a way of isolated families, and the “feeling” of community was totally lost after the death of Manileños. Newspapers stopped from being published in spanish, no more films were filmed in spanish….

    So american troops killed around 400 000 spanish speakers filipinos ( as 1st language), and considering that the total number of native speakers of spanish probably never was over 1,5 million, it was or it was not a genocide?

    But consider one more thing many of the filipinos killed by the american troops during 1898-1092 and WWII that were not spanish speakers as 1st language, were speakers as 2nd language, so the chances for the survival of the spanish speaking community killing natives and no natives spakers, and forbiding the teaching of the spanish language in the educational systems… was totally a strong genocide against the hispanofilipino culture.

    Reply
  14. Malik Aguinaldo

    Beautiful Butterfly
    Of my immortal earth
    Is the Filipina
    In their native dress
    Holding a sleeve
    Wit and salt on
    And tail skirt
    And a piece of calico.

    With tortoise shell comb, uy…
    And a natty scarf
    And eyelet petticoat
    That touches the heels
    With real tapestry
    On the subtle size
    is the butterfly
    Of hanging Malay.

    FUNNY TRANSLATION…

    Reply
  15. i miss singing it in spanish version… thanks

    Reply
  16. Nikos Ibarra Mante

    “Kasadya ning Takna-a composed by Vicente Rubi and Mariano Vestil was rendered into Ang Pasko ay Sumapit without any attribution of the original composers.”

    I remember a conversation 10 years ago with Mang Levi Celerio and he did mention Rubi as the composer of this song. What intrigued me was that Mang Levi went on to say that another Filipino composer went to claim this work as his own. I do not wish to mention who this composer was but Mang Levi would say that this person had the gall to even claim something that he did not own. By the way, Mang Levi wrote the Tagalog lyrics of this song.

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing this, Nikos. By the way, a granddaughter of Levi Celerio is a friend of mine. And she’s good with the piano as well. Best regards. =)

      Reply
  17. Teacher Faith

    Thanks for sharing the original lyrics of this song. I’m teaching this song to my students, but I honestly don’t understand the Spanish words. Now, I know what to tell them (plus the origin of this song). Maraming salamat! :)

    Reply
  18. José Antonio Valdés

    I think Paru-parong Bukid was meant to be a Tagalog version and not a translation of the original song Mariposa Bella. Malik translated it in English from Spanish quite accurately and it does sound funny as he demonstrated. What’s nice is that the Tagalog version is as gay (merry) as the Spanish original and maybe even more, Ambas versiones demuestra el caracter alegre de nosotros los filipinos.

    In my youth, I heard a comedian over the radio sing the entire song Paru-parong Bukid by just uttering its title then reversing it, i.e. Paru-parong Bukid, Bukid Paru-paro…. I think you can do the same with the Spanish version, although it does not sound as good. This makes the melody and lyrics unique for both versions.

    Then comes Fabian Obispo who arranges the Tagalog version for chorale singing and its popularity gained recognition across our borders. Many foreign choirs have this in their repertoire. Olé!

    Reply
  19. Thank you for posting this valuable information, Pepe. As a lifelong student of Philippine music history, I am interested in the actual citation of the Spanish text of “Mariposa Bella.” Which book or music journal can this be found? If this text was passed on orally to you, it would be helpful to know from whence it came. It would be good for you to connect with my former colleagues–UP Profs. Felipe de Leon, Jr. and Elena Mirano–to let them know about this and other mis-attributions.

    On another note, the choral setting of Paruparong Bukid that is gaining wide exposure now here in the U.S. is the one arranged by George Hernandez. It is published by Pavane Publishing. I’ve heard quite a number choirs perform them. Some are even posted on YouTube.

    Reply
  20. I’m organizing a Rondalla group in a small town here in the U.S. where can I buy cd’s or whatever, of filipino songs {kundiman} complete with books and or instructions? your help will be appreciated.

    Reply
  21. Anthony Rivera

    La historia Ed la historia. Superlarlo. Segue adelate! Solo Filipinos pesimistas gustaria vivir en pasado.

    Reply

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