A senator earned online attention for a hand gesture while singing the national anthem before President Ferdinand Marcos Jr delivered his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.
Sen. Robin Padilla was talked about by some Filipinos who noticed that he did not place his palm over his chest, a prescribed gesture as a sign of respect when the national anthem is played at a public gathering.
Before Marcos began delivering his SONA on July 24 at the Batasang Pambansa Complex, a rendition of “Lupang Hinirang” was sung by soprano Lara Maigue.
Everyone was expected to place their right palm over their chest, but when the camera panned to Padilla, some Pinoys observed that his fingers were curled inward except for his index finger which pointed outwards.
The gesture raised questions from SONA viewers.
“Ano ‘yung hand gesture ni Robin?” a Twitter user partly wrote.
“Ano kaya ang nangyari sa kamay ni Senator Robin Padilla?” another Filipino commented, sharing a clip of the moment.
— Amiel Mendoza (@aimsmendoza) July 24, 2023
“Hmmmm, honest question: May injury ba si Robin Padilla for him not to place his hand properly on his chest for the National Anthem?” a Facebook user said.
Meanwhile, other Filipinos on Reddit speculated it could be related to Padilla being a Muslim.
“If they are singing ‘National Anthem’, then I could only assume that the senator was performing an ‘Iman’, I don’t know the exact translation [or] interpretation of that, but it’s part of being a Muslim,” a Redditor commented.
“I was in military training the first time I noticed this to my Muslim friends-cadets while we [were] reciting the ‘Patriotic Oath of Allegiance’ or ‘Panatang Makabayan’. They said Muslims are not just required to pray 5 [five] times a day, but should pray all the time and they call that process an ‘Iman,'” the user added.
“Other friends interpreted it to me as a ‘meditation’ or focusing on God all the time even when busy. So perhaps, when they are singing the National Anthem or reciting the allegiance oath, they [are] dedicating it to God and not just to their country or people,” the Redditor continued.
The Reddit user also shared a comment about Padilla’s finger gesture.
“To add, using the point finger means ‘There’s only One God’. Remember [FPJ’s] point-finger gesture when he declared his candidacy in [Greenhills] with lots of Muslims surrounding him? That’s because of his movie [Magnum Muslim .357], he got that gesture from [his] Muslim supporters,” the user claimed.
Another Redditor has a similar assumption.
“Robin Padilla is a Muslim, it is common for Muslims to raise their index finger to praise their God, perhaps that is why he is doing that,” the user wrote.
According to the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines, also known as Republic Act 8941, “all persons present shall place their palms over their chest” the moment the first note of the national anthem is heard.
“Everyone in the premises shall come to attention; moving vehicles shall stop,” the law said.
It added that this is done “as a sign of respect.”
“Reverence and respect shall at all times be accorded the flag, the anthem and other national symbols which embody the national ideals and traditions and which express the principles of sovereignty and national solidarity,” the Flag and Heraldic Code said.
“The heraldic items and devices shall seek to manifest the national virtues and to inculcate in the minds and hearts of our people a just pride in their native land, fitting respect and affection for the national flag and anthem, and the proper use of the national motto, coat-of-arms and other heraldic items and devices,” the law added.
Index finger for Muslims
Meanwhile, the index finger, when raised by Muslims, symbolizes the unity of Allah.
The raised index finger is a symbol of “Tagwid,” which is described by the Oxford Dictionary of Islam as “the unity and uniqueness of God as creator and sustainer of the Universe.”
The gesture is part of Islamic prayer.