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Filipino Carols Then and Now


As early as 1894, Filipino carols such as the “Invitation for Nativity” and “Responsarium” were already sung. They were composed by Marcelo Adonay, a composer, conductor, and teacher from Pakil, Laguna. Since then, more Filipino composers have produced Christmas carols—most of them still very familiar nowadays.

These carols include “Payapang Daigdig” (Peaceful World) composed by Felipe P. De Leon, with lyrics by Brigido Batungbakal and Eduardo De Leon. It was considered as the local counterpart of the well-known Western carol “Silent Night, Holy Night” and was inspired by the ending of World War II.

Another popular Filipino Christmas song is “Pasko na Naman” (It’s Christmas Again) also by Felipe P. De Leon, with lyrics by Levi Celerio. It is usually sung as the final song of the misa de aguinaldo or dawn mass. Another is “Ang Pasko ay Sumapit” (Christmas is Here) by Vicente Rubi, with lyrics originally in Cebuano (“Kasadya Ning Takna-a”) by Mariano Vesti. The Tagalog lyrics by Levi Celerio have been immortalized by carollers. Other popular songs are “Sino si Santa Klaus?” (Who is Santa Claus?) and “Mano Po Ninong.”

Other regions of the country also have their very own versions of Christmas music. The Ilocanos have “Naimbag Paskua-yo” (Merry Christmas), “O Narimat a Bituin” (Oh Bright Star) and “Rabii a Naulimek” (Silent Night). The Warays have their Christmas chants Panaret and Tarindaw. Ilonggos have “O Tagbalay Nga Dunganon (Oh Honorable Household) and “Adios, Adios na Tagbalay nga Amon Hinigugma” (Farewell, Farewell, Household We Love).

For the younger generations, popular Christmas songs include “Pasko Na, Sinta Ko,” considered as the most popular Filipino Christmas song of the ‘90s because of its sentimental theme which most Filipinos relate to. It was composed by Francis Dandan, with lyrics by Aurelio Estanislao, and popularized by Gary Valenciano. Other popular contemporary Christmas songs include “Miss Kita Kung Christmas” (I Miss You at Christmas) popularized by Rico J. Puno and “Christmas in our Hearts” by Jose Mari Chan, who sung the song with his daughter, Lisa.

Sources:

Alejandro, R.G. and Chorengel, M.Y. (1998).Pasko!: the Philippine Christmas. Pasig City : National Bookstore and Anvil Pub.

Tiongson, N. (Ed.) (1994). CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art, vol. 6: Philippine Music. Manila : Cultural Center of the Philippines.

Sample selections from the Himig Collection