Chances are you’ve come across the song “Hindi Kita Malilimutan,” most especially during wakes and funerals.
This OPM classic from the 1980s sung by Basil Valdez has become the unofficial anthem of those grieving over someone dear who passed away.
A classic example of this was the funeral mass for the late great President Cory Aquino in August 2009. If you were able to watch it live on TV, you probably wouldn’t forget how Kris Aquino (who had the Barretto sisters-like media attention back then) cried hard while listening to the song rendered by Zsa Zsa Padilla and the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra.
For many, perhaps, the lyrics deliver a feeling of separation anxiety for the bereaved. It also gives that message that the departed immortalizes his or her memory with loved ones and friends.
Then there’s also the music itself. One friend told me that the song was played during her mom’s funeral. It did make her cry, as the tune stirred her emotions.
But here’s the thing, especially for the young ones – the song wasn’t made in remembrance of the departed.
The song was originally composed for a liturgical song competition at the Ateneo High School in the early 1980s by then-freshmen. Most notable of them was Manuel “Manoling” Francisco, who together a few classmates put together the song’s lyrics and melody.
Their teacher, Onofre Pagsanghan, asked his class to come up with their entry based on several verses from the Book of Isaiah in the Bible’s Old Testament.
Below is the passage used as the basis for the lyrics.
Can a mother forget her infant,
be without tenderness for the child of her womb?
Even should she forget,
I will never forget you.
See, upon the palms of my hands I have engraved you;
your walls are ever before me.
(from Isaiah 49:15-16, New American Bible Revised Edition)
Below, meanwhile, are the song’s lyrics. Go and compare.
Hindi kita malilimutan
Hindi kita pababayaan
Nakaukit magpakailanman sa Aking palad
Ang iyong pangalan
Malilimutan ba na ang ina
Ang anak na galing sa kanya
Sanggol sa kanyang sinapupunan
Paano niya matatalikdan
Ngunit kahit na malimutan ng ina
Ang anak niyang tangan
Hindi kita malilimutan
Kailanma’y ‘di pababayaan
The song eventually found its way to Catholic churches in the 80s and 90s. Incidentally, Manoling Francisco was on his way to the priesthood at the same time. Next thing I know, the song was already being used by many to commemorate their dead.
So, the next time you hear “Hindi Kita Malilimutan,” feel free still to be moved and cry if you wish. But remember that the composers didn’t have that intention. Though, I’m pretty sure they appreciate your love for the song.