The most popular of the old songs of music-loving Ilocanos is the “Pamulinawen.” It is believed that it was created by an Ilocano troubadour of pre-Hispanic times who was inspired by the sweetness of an Ilocana. The maiden might have been resplendent with character traits cherished by the women of Ilocandia and for this reason the troubadour must have called her “Pamulinawen” which according to the text of the song is the sweetest and most illustrious names among Ilocanos of old. The song is now known by that name.
“Pamulinawen” is the most unique song of the Ilocanos. It possesses a certain style which is distinctly Ilocano. It sounds ancient both in melody and language. It is cherished for this reason, as a pearl of their ancestral culture. Because of its uniqueness and universal appeal to Ilocanos in addition to its antiquity, the song symbolizes an inspirational fountain from which had effused all the beautiful poetic and melodious expressions of tenderness and devotion created by Ilocano lyricists.
“Pamulinawen” is the most popular song among Ilocanos. There is no genuine Ilocano, who does not know the song by heart. Because of its appeal to the Ilocanos, it has become the regional theme song of Ilocandia.
A CRITICAL ANALYSIS
Due to this song’s special place in our culture, especially in the heart and soul of a proud Ilocano, allow us to present to you a critical analysis of its lyrics and melody, as sung in the different towns of Ilocos, which are far from being the same.
The most common version has obviously suffered revision as it has dropped off two verses of the second stanza from what is believed to be the original song. One of the modern versions of the song runs this way. Sing it as you read.
Pamulinawen, pusoc, imdengamman,
Toy umas-asog, agrayo ita sadiam,
Panunutam man, dica paguintutulngan,
Toy agayat, agrayo ita sadiam.
Essem ti indiac kalipatan
Ta nasudi unay nga nagan,
Ta uray sadin ti ayan,
Lugar sadino man,
Pusoc ti mabang-aran.
This popular version has mistakes which are obvious. The most glaring mistakes, found in the most popular current versions of the “Pamulinawen” are as follows:
- The word “ag-rayo” in the second verse of the first stanza of the song should be accented on the last vowel and not on the second as erroneously sung by many. Hence, in singing this verse the word “ag-rayo” should be enunciated with a well stressed accent on the last vowel O. One of the most important rules which should be observed in singing Ilocano songs is that the singer should enunciate the words of the song exactly as if one were speaking. This is particularly essential in enunciating accented vowels and syllables in a song.
- The phrase “ag-rayo ita sadiam” found in the second line of the first stanza should not be repeated in the last verse of the same stanza for by so doing it sounds unpleasant to the ears. This is the case with the popular but corrupted version. It is hard to believe that the good author of the “Pamulinawen” was responsible for this irksome repetition of this phrase. The phrase “ag-rucnoy ita emmam” should be used in the last verse instead of “ag-rayo ita sadiam.”
- In the third verse of the second stanza the word “yan” which means place should be used instead of “ayan” which means “whereto.”
- The word “Lugar” used by many in the fourth verse of the second stanza is a Spanish term and as the song is believed to be of pre-Hispanic origin the word “disso” used by some of the old people must be the original term in this verse. The words ‘lugar” and “disso” both mean place.
- In the old Iloco-Spanish dictionary of Fr. Carro, there is no word “imdong” but “indeng.” The last word of the first verse of the song should therefore be “indengamman” and not “imdengamman” as used in some other versions.
- In the second to the last verse of the second stanza, the phrase “no malagipcan” which means “immediately upon remembering you anytime” is a more appropriate phrase to be used than “no malagipka” which means merely “when I remember you.” The former phrase is more widely used than the latter.
- In the second stanza, the fifth and sixth lines, “aw-awagac a di agsarday – Ta naganmo a casam-itan”, are missing in the popular version of the younger generation. This error is attributed to the erroneous phonograph recording done at the early part of the century. These two lines which are the most beautiful verses of the song are preserved in some towns of Ilocos Norte. With these verses restored, the perfect balance of the two stanzas is re-established as the stanzas would then have sixteen measures each.