José Palma (3 June 1876 - 12 February 1903) was a Philippine poet and soldier. He was on the staff of La Independencia at the time he wrote his "Filipinas," a patriotic poem in Spanish. It was published for the first time in the issue of the first anniversary of La Independencia on 3 September 1899. The poem fit the tune of the music of the Marcha Nacional Filipina, and since then became the national anthem of the country.
Palma was born in Tondo, Manila, on 3 June 1876, the youngest child of Don Hermogenes Palma, a clerk at the Intendencia Office, and Hilaria Velasquez. His older brother was Rafael Palma. After finishing his primera enseñanza in Tondo, Palma continued his studies at the Ateneo Municipal. While he was there, he gradually honed his skills by composing verses. One of his earliest works was “La cruz de Sampaguitas” in 1893. In the same year he had a brief romantic relationship with a woman named Florentina Arellano whose parents did not approve of him.
As underground revolutionary activities grew intense, Palma devoted his time to composing more poems. In 1894, he joined the Katipunan but did not join his comrades on the battlefield when the revolution broke out. He eventually joined the revolutionary forces of Colonel Rosendo Simon in 1899 when the Philippine-American War erupted and fought under the command of Colonel Servillano Aquino in the encounters in Angeles and Bambang. Since he could not physically cope with the difficulties of war, he often stayed in camps and entertained the soldiers with kundiman. He eventually joined the staff of the Tagalog section of the revolutionary newspaper, La Independencia, to fight against the Americans as he could not on the battlefield.
"Filipinas," the poem
Palma and his colleagues in the newspaper often amused themselves with songs and poems while resting in camps or other places during their marches away from the pursuing American forces. It was during one of their breaks in Bautista, Pangasinan when Palma’s poetic spirit produced the poem “Filipinas” that fitted the music of the “Marcha Nacional Filipina” of Julian Felipe. “Filipinas” was published in Spanish in the first anniversary issue of La Independencia on 3 September 1899 as follows:
- (Letra para la Marcha Nacional)
- Tierra adorada
- Hija del sol de Oriente
- Su fuego ardiente
- En ti latiendo esta,
- !Patria de amores!
- Del heroismo cuna,
- Los invasores
- No te hallaran jamas
- En tu azul cielo, en tus Auras
- En tus montes y en tu mar
- Esplende y late el poema
- De tu amada libertad.
- Tu pabellon, que en las lides
- La Victoria ilumino,
- No vera nunca apagados
- Sus estrellas y su sol
- Tierra de dichas, del sol y de amores,
- En tu regazo dulce es vivir.
- Es una gloria para tus hijos,
- Cuando te ofenden, por ti morir.
- Zaide, Gregorio F. (1984). Philippine History and Government. National Bookstore Printing Press.
- Jose Palma, Poet-Soldier of the Revolution