‘Tatsulok’ song performed in Bar 2020-21 candidates’ oathtaking ceremony

May 3, 2022 - 2:25 PM
Bar2020-21 oathtaking
Senior Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe on the oathtaking ceremony of the 2020/21 Bar passers in this photo uploaded on the Supreme Court's Facebook on May 2, 2022. (Facebook/Supreme Court PH)

For the first time in history, a contemporary song was played during the oathtaking of the successful Bar 2020-2021 candidates which a former Supreme Court spokesperson said “contextualized” their new roles.

Lawyer Theodore Te on Tuesday said that a chorale version of “Tatsulok” was heard during the ceremony that Saint Louis University’s Glee Club performed.

Clips of this were uploaded by San Sebastian Law Dean Rodel Taton on social media.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, also the Bar chairperson, likewise shared a link to the “BestBarEver2020_21” playlist which featured a similar version performed by Choir ng Bayan and Gary Granada.

Te said that the song “pointedly contextualized the role of the lawyers to be” in the oathtaking.

“In another first, the oathtaking yesterday, which was a special En Banc session of the SC (Supreme Court), featured three songs—all chosen by the former Bar Chair. The 2007 song ‘Tatsulok’ pointedly contextualized the role of the lawyers to be, a reference he would use in his message,” he tweeted.

“Through the song choice, the message was delivered clearly: ‘Hindi pula’t dilaw tunay na magkalaban / Ang kulay at tatak ay ‘di siyang dahilan / Hangga’t marami ang lugmok sa kahirapan / At ang hustisya ay para lang sa mayaman,'” Te added, quoting some of its lyrics.

He then quoted some of Leonen’s message to the new lawyers in his succeeding tweets:

“Hanggang ngayon, tatsulok ang hugis ng ating lipunan. Ang nakakarami ay nasa ibaba. Dito natin makikita ang mga ginugutom, pinapalaboy, pinagsasamantalahan, pinahihirapan ng mga sistema ng ating lipunan at mga talamak sa kanilang kapangyarihan.” 

“Dito natin makikita ang mga uhaw sa katarungan. Sila, higit sa iba, ang tinutukoy natin sa bawat bitaw natin sa mga katagang: Serve the People.” 

“Tulong ang hinihining sa inyo. Ngunit tayo’y mga katuwang lamang. Hindi lang mga lider, hindi lang mga pulitiko, at lalong hindi lang mga huwes ang magpapalaya sa atin. Sabihin sa nakararami: walang tunay na magpapalaya sa atin kung hindi tayo mismo.” 

“Tatsulok” is famously associated with alternative Filipino band Bamboo which released it as part of their 2007 album “We Stand Alone Together” as its carrier single.

“Tatsulok” is originally a folk song composed by Rom Dongeto in 1989 and performed by his trio folk-rock band Buklod in 1991.

Its members include Noel Cabangon and Rene Boncocan.

The song’s persona counsels a person named “Totoy” to evade bombs and bullets that may be headed in his direction.

A report said that the song is originally a reference to the armed conflict between the government and the communist-led revolutionary movement in the Philippines.

It was written amid late president Cory Aquino’s “Total War Policy” against the New People’s Army.

“This conflict is rooted in something, and the song calls on people like Totoy to think and be critical,” Dongeto said in an interview before.

“Well, it tells them to take care and avoid being killed, but it also calls on them to invert the pyramid,” he added.

“For as long as opportunities and the distribution of resources are not equitable, and the country’s riches are controlled by only a few, the fundamental issues will remain and the war will continue. That is what the song says,” Dongeto continued.

Leonen in the oathtaking repeated some of the song’s message to the Bar 2020-2021 candidates and told them to serve the people, mainly those who are oppressed and taken advantage of by the system.

According to the Code of Professional Responsibility, considered the ultimate guide of the country’s legal system, lawyers shall uphold the Constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law and legal processes.

They must also use “only true, honest, fair, dignified and objective information or statement of facts” in making known their legal services.

The code also said that “a lawyer shall not, for any corrupt motive or interest, encourage any suit or proceeding or delay any man’s cause.”

It added that “a lawyer shall not reject, except for valid reasons, the cause of the defenseless or the oppressed.”