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Tweeterverse: Birdsong and Human Emotions

By Cristina A. Montes

I have been running this column for quite some time now, but the connection between poetry and birds is still a mystery to me.  Why are birds a frequent subject of poetry?

One reason could be that birdsongs evoke intense emotions and memories in humans.  The birds have their own purposes for their songs:  to attract mates or to protect their territories, for example.  But whatever the reasons are, we humans tend to unconsciously associate them with our own feelings and experiences.  Sometimes, it seems as birdsongs express our thoughts and feelings better than we can.

This was captured by a lesser-known composition by Ryan Cayabyab “Awit ni Isagani” from a musical version of El Filibusterismo.  (To be precise, Ryan Cayabyab composed the melody while the play’s script was a collaborative work between Jovy Miroy and Paul Dumol.)

We Filipinos know that El Filibusterismo is a socio-political commentary novel, but buried within the socio-political commentary is the subplot of the tragic romance between Isagani, an idealistic Atenean, and Paulita, the niece of the socialite Doña Victorina.  In the musical version, when Isagani’s character is introduced onstage, he sings this song:

′Eto ako nag iisa, balisa’t walang kasama
Tulad ako ng Lawin, umaawit sa kanyang sarili
Awit nya′y nakakaaliw ngunit walang nakakaintindi
May nakapagsabing kung umibig ang isang Lawin’y matindi
At kung ito’y sawi mananatili lamang sa sarili.

Ang nais ko sana ay umibig tulad ng Lawin
Ang nais ko sana′y lumipad kasama nya
Ang nais ko sana ay isang Lawin na aawitin sa akin ang awit nya

At kung ito′y sawi mananatili lamang sa sarili

Ang nais ko sana ay umibig tulad ng Lawin
Ang nais ko sana’y lumipad kasama nya
Ang nais ko sana ay isang Lawin na aawitin sa akin ang awit nya.

(lyrics taken from, accessed September 10, 2023)

To listen to the song rendered by Audi Gemora, who was among those first cast in the role, click here:

I do not know if what the song says about hawks is scientifically accurate (although there seems to be basis for the part that says “kung umibig ang isang lawin’y matindi”, because the Wikipedia entry about hawks says that some species of hawks are monogamous and stay with the same mating partner their whole lives.)

But it is hard not to be moved by the image of a lonely young poet seeking the company of a hawk whose song seems to sympathize with the deepest feelings and longings in the poet’s heart. 

The next time you feel lonely, sad, misunderstood, or all of the above, try listening to birds.  Perhaps you might hear a bird call or birdsong to console you, distract you, or at least one which, for no reason at all, seems to express the same sentiments you feel.  For sure you will feel better.

And who knows?  You might even be inspired to write your own poem or song.

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