usic is so powerful that when Martial Law was declared in the Philippines in 1972, the song “Bayan Ko” was deemed as seditious and was banned from public performances. Imagine that: a song was bad enough to scare Ferdinand Marcos.

That role for music clearly exists to this very day, even during our era of (supposedly) peaceful revolutions. Why, just last Friday the 13th, another protest was held in Luneta – in the form of a concert.

Most of you reading this may not have experienced a bloody revolution in your lifetime. Others among us have not been as lucky.

Nonetheless, one thing uprisings tend to have in common, surprisingly, is the need for music to keep morale up, if not for actually issuing orders and rally people to the cause.

That got me to thinking what songs truly work to sing along to get the people going. The songs aren’t all OPM, but obviously, quite a few of them will be. Here are 8 songs meant to keep morale up in times of revolution both then and now. The funny thing is, if we listen, really listen to what these songs say, there should never have to be a revolution

Because we should all be so lucky to have to never go through another Proclamation 1081 ever again.


To paraphrase, the great wordsmith, Popeye, that’s all we can stands, and we can’t stands no more!

What song is better suited than one that practically banners its own (albeit French) revolution? This song, from the musical version of Les Miserables, stirs the blood and makes us want to march down the streets as a people who are angrily fighting for a cause.

Of course, if we go with the latest version of the musical, they might actually just be really angry that someone had the bright idea of making Russel Crowe sing.

Revolutionary Value: 9/10

Do you hear the people sing, singing the song of angry men? It is the music of a people who will not be slaves again.

I remember when our publisher at the 8List treated the whole team to see this movie last year. The song stirred our revolutionary spirit so much, we then barricaded our workplace the very next day while singing along to it ad nauseam . Good times, good times.



A very patriotic song that definitely stands proud as a masterpiece. Isn’t it ironic, then, that this song was actually commissioned by Imelda Marcos to commemorate then-president Marcos’s inauguration in 1981? The fact that some people used this song in 1986 is the equivalent  of leading a revolution today against the current president to the tune of “Magkaisa.”

Given that the Marcoses took to the arts quite a bit, it does make sense that even some of our most patriotic ditties owe their roots to them, which also probably explains why “Handog Ng Pilipino Sa Mundo” was composed by the APO Hiking Society as a song that doesn’t have to be co-opted from the regime.

Revolutionary Value: 7/10

Ako ay Pilipino, ako ay Pilipino. Isang bansa, ‘sang diwa ang minimithi ko

With no common enemy to stand against, this song sounds more like a call to unity than a call to revolution, which has plenty of overlap, indeed, but are not always one and the same.



Believe it or not, La Cucaracha (The Cockroach) is a song often associated with the Mexican Revolution, and if there’s one other nation who knows how it feels like to be under the Spanish for ages aside from the Philippines, it’s definitely Mexico. The song’s lyrics were often changed to reflect the current political times, and turned the song into a memetic allegory that referenced people and events.

With the Pinoy’s ability to take any tune and make compelling lyrics for it (Tough Hits, Pinoy Ako, O’Jo Kaluguran Daka, anyone?), one can only titter in anticipation what the Filipino version of this classic tune/ringtone could end up being.

Revolutionary Value: 8/10

La cucaracha, la cucaracha, ya no puede caminar, por que no tiene, por que le falta, marihuana que fumar. (The cockroach, the cockroach can’t walk anymore because it’s lacking, because it doesn’t have marijuana to smoke.)

Were the lyrics about Pancho Villa? Were they about weed-hungry president-dictator Victoriana Huerta? We may never know for sure, but can you just imagine how nuts we can go with the Filipino lyrics?



There’s a reason why the FBI had to warn the NWA’s record label about this song. You can’t get any more blatant than this anti-authority screed of how law enforcement  racially profiles in America, much in the same way that law enforcement economically profiles in the Philippines. Here, the poorer you are, the less likely you’re getting justice anytime soon.

Revolutionary Value: 10/10

Without a gun and a badge, what do ya got? A sucker in a uniform waiting to get shot.

The Tulfo brothers made a career out of hating on corrupt cops. But why stop at just those authority figures? It goes wayyyy higher up the food chain than that.



Biting, if not passive-aggressive, Gloc-9 outdoes himself as he raps about social issues of how those who are in power are completely disconnected from those who are not. He asks them to look at what the common man is going through, and wonders why they have no clue what is really going on.

Revolutionary Value: 8/10

Kayo po na nakaupo, subukan niyo namang tumayo, at baka matanaw, at baka matanaw ninyo ang tunay na kalagayan ko.

If they won’t take notice, we’ll make them take notice.



Completing our hip-hop trifecta (because I’m very partial to the late-great Francis M’s version), I highlight the kind of Filipino pride we could all like: the one that isn’t trying to make excuses for our shortcomings as a people, but reminding us that there’s nothing to be inherently ashamed about, either. It’s the kind of patriotic music that reminds us that we are a great people because of our actions, not our bloodline.

Revolutionary Value: 10/10

Sabi ni Heber, huwag tayong manggaya, huwag kang manggaya kung hindi mo rin kaya. Mangopya ka man, siguraduhin mong mas mahusay sa kinophayan at matinong-matino.

Pro-active patriotism, and not just blind, jingoistic “Pinoy pride.” That’s the ticket.



We always ask for a revolution of change, but in reality, we end up replacing our horrible leaders with equally horrible leaders. This great song by Jess Santiago (and covered by Asin) reflects how sometimes, our struggles for change end up being little more than opportunities for vultures to feed. Definitely reminds me of “Sayaw Sa Bubog” by The Jerks.

Revolutionary Value: 10/10

Tayo ang nagtanim, ang bumayo at nag-saing, ngunit nang maluto, iba ang kumain.

When we had EDSA I, who benefitted the most? It’s great that we got democracy back, but do we have that excuse when EDSA II happened? Or did we just catapult the ultimate opportunist into power? Is there really any chance for us to hope for change when we keep on pinning our hopes on our leaders instead of ourselves?



There’s something so visceral about the lyrics and arrangement of this song that just really makes you want to rage against the machine. Taken at its most basic level, why is it that only an elite are at the very top, keeping everyone else at the bottom, and why do we allow them to do it?

Revolutionary Value: 10/10

Totoy, kumilos baliktarin ang tatsulok, tulad ng dukha nailagay mo sa tuktok. Hindi pula’t dilaw tunay na magkalaban. Ang kulay at tatak hindi siyang dahilan. Hangga’t marami ang lugmok sa kahirapan, at ang hustisya ay para lang sa mayaman.

If there’s one song that could be very well pointed at the issues of the day, this song definitely hits the spot better than any of the others right now. The Bamboo version adds just the right amount of grit to a revolutionary song that reflects the anger the Filipino people has as those in power continue playing the rest of us like chess pieces for their own petty amusement.

Kel Fabie

Kel Fabie. is a DJ, host, mentalist, satirist, comedian, and a long-time contributor to 8List (Hello, ladies!). He has an Oscar, a Pulitzer, a Nobel, and two other weirdly-named pet dogs. He blogs on

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