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A Primer on Christmas Caroling in the Philippines

6 December 2022
A Primer on Christmas Caroling in the Philippines

The Philippines is a haven of cultural diversity. It is also a predominantly Catholic nation in Asia, an entire continent whose primary religions are Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. With more than 80 percent of Filipinos registered as Catholics, this is one of the major reasons as to why the nation is world-renowned to celebrate Christmas the longest, with Christmas songs being played as early as the first day of September. Filipinos simply love celebrating! Lumina Homes could attest to this Filipino tradition because it is a matter of fact.

 

Now, every holiday season, it has become customary to symbolically knock on people's hearts for a monetary solicitation. The caroling starts once the group chorused ir singing a Christmas song in front of a Filipino house. In this article, let's get to learn the history of caroling in the Philippines and a list of familiar Christmas songs to belt out during a caroling session with your friends and family members.

 

History of Carolling in the Philippines

Being under Spanish rule for more than 300 years enabled the country to adopt Spanish traditions and influences that gradually shaped its own customs. That includes the concept of pangangaroling in the Philippines, where it began as a choir singing to the devotional villancicos of Spain. The Spanish term refers to a Christmas carol and was primarily performed during a Holy Mass in church, but has since become extremely popular that people on the streets began singing Christmas carols during the holiday season.

 

After the Spanish rule, the popularity of villancicos dwindled and was replaced by Christmas carols sung in English and Tagalog. After the devastating World War II, "Payapang Daigdig" was a popular Christmas song considered the localized version of "Silent Night," a Filipino Christmas hymn meant to express both great sorrow and tall hopes after the war wreaked havoc and killed hundreds of thousands of Filipinos.

 

It is important to note that Christmas caroling in the Philippines has especially cemented its popularity among locals in the 1930s. A Cebuano Christmas carol served as a pioneer of Christmas songs in the Philippines, with the song "Kasadya Ning Taknaa," translated as "How Joyous is the Season," written by Vicente D. Rubi and Mariano Vestil. The most famous Filipino Christmas song, "Ang Pasko ay Sumapit," was inspired by the aforementioned Cebuano song. It was composed by National Artist Levi Celerio.

 

 

The Influence of Jose Mari Chan

Besides "Ang Pasko ay Sumapit," another Filipino Christmas song that beckons the Yuletide season is "Christmas in our Hearts" by Filipino singer-songwriter and businessman Jose Mari Chan. The song was released in November 1990 during the Christmas season and became such a sensation that even to this day, the song remains to be beloved and sung by Pinoys and played on radios and malls to remind everybody of the season.

 

"Christmas in our Hearts" and other Christmas songs sung by Jose Mari Chan earned him the moniker "Father of Philippine Christmas Music." In the age of social media, memes are ubiquitous depicting the mere presence of Jose Mari Chan at the end of August, or just a day before September officially commences. This is a humorous take that points to the fact that the playing of a Jose Mari Chan song is the official countdown of Christmas in the Philippines.

 

 

The Impact of Christmas Station IDs

Since its inception in 2004, the Christmas Station ID of the country's top mass media giant had become an integral part of the Filipino Christmas celebration. It started with "Sabay Tayo Kapamilya" with a theme portraying the celebration of Christmas transcending physical distance. It was then depicted to show Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) coming home for the season, much to the entire family's delight.

 

Every year, the release of the country's top media network is highly anticipated because of its evocative music video, easy-to-remember lyrics, and ever-so-catchy melody. Many, if not all, Christmas Station IDs made by the network became such huge favorites among Filipinos, including "Star ng Pasko" in 2009, "Thank You For The Love" in 2015, "Isang Pamilya Tayong Pasko" in 2016, "Family Is Love" in 2018, and "Ikaw Ang Liwanag At Ligaya" in 2020.

 

 

Famous Christmas Songs in the Philippines

"Ang Pasko ay Sumapit" is inarguably ever present in the lineup of songs to sing among carollers. It is oftentimes the opening song, which is then followed by other famous Christmas carols. Pinoy caroling culminates after a homeowner offers money in exchange for their singing. Filipinos being extremely grateful and hospitable, the carollers will then utter their gesture of gratitude with a familiar and resounding melody: "Thank you, ang babait ninyo, thank you!"

 

Below, let's explore some of the Philippines' best Christmas songs that Filipino carollers belt out during a caroling with friends, coworkers, and family members.

 

Pasko na Naman (It's Christmastime Again)

Pasko, Pasko, Pasko na namang muli
Tanging araw na ating pinakamimithi

 

If after finishing "Ang Pasko Ay Sumapit" the homeowner hasn't given the carollers money just yet, "Pasko Na Naman" by composer Felipe De Leon is the typical follow-up song to resume the caroling. It's a catchy and upbeat song that reflects how time flies so fast, with Christmas Eve just around the corner. It has an appealing chorus that would almost prompt listeners to sing along, reminding everyone that in every Christmas celebration, the spirit of love should always reign supreme.

 

Sa May Bahay Ang Aming Bati (Our Greetings to the Homeowners)

Ang sanhi po ng pagparito
Hihingi po ng aginaldo
Kung sakaling kami'y perwisyo
Pasensiya na kayo't kami'y namamasko!

 

With such a humorous and catchy tune and lyrics, this song is also frequently played in a Christmas carol. This song epitomizes the essence of Christmas caroling, as expressed in the lyrics mentioned above. It translates to saying that the caroling is to solicit money, and that if the carollers are a bother, apologies! They are there to exemplify the spirit of Christmas by singing Christmas songs in exchange for some coins a homeowner may have. In the end, it's the thought that counts.

 

Himig ng Pasko (Melody of Christmas)

Malamig ang simoy ng hangin
Kay saya ng bawat damdamin
Ang tibok ng puso sa dibdib
Para bang hulog na ng langit

 

Not all Filipino Christmas carols have to be melodied in a cheerful fashion, and Apo Hiking Society's "Himig ng Pasko" is evidence of this contention. Also, this is typically sung among a group of adult carollers because of its moderate pace when sung. This piece of beautiful Christmas music is peaceful, and calming, and exemplifies the spirit of Christmas: hope, love, peace, and family.

 

Kumukutikutitap (Flickering Lights)

Kumukutikutitap, bumubusibusilak
Ganyan ang indak ng mga bumbilya
Kikindat-kindat, kukurap-kurap
Pinaglalaruan ng inyong mga mata

 

Another well-known Christmas anthem in the Philippines is Ryan Cayabyab's "Kumukutikutitap," a tongue-twisting upbeat song referring to the flickering of Christmas lights. When sung by professional singers or church choirs, this song is pleasant to the ears with its poetic verses sung in a cheerful melody.

 

Pasko Na, Sinta Ko (It's Christmas, My Love)

Kung mawawala ka sa piling ko sinta
Paano ang paskong alay ko sa'yo

 

While this is arguably not befitting to sing in a supposedly buoyant caroling session, "Pasko Na, Sinta Ko" is a well-loved Christmas love song that reflects on one's longing for someone who's left or is far away from home during such an important occasion. This especially resonates well with families with a member working overseas. Sung and popularized by Gary Valenciano, Pasko Na, Sinta Ko is another testament to Filipinos being family-oriented, and how Christmases will feel less merry in the absence of a loved one sa Araw ng Pasko.

 

Other Christmas love songs enjoyed by Filipinos in a season of love and longing are Miss Kita Kung Christmas (I Miss You Every Christmastime), and Sana Ngayong Pasko (Hoping This Christmas).

 

For the complete list of famous Christmas songs in the Philippines, also read: Ultimate List of Filipino Christmas Songs

 

 

Be part of Lumina Homes Friendly Community this Holiday Season

Filipinos love the atmosphere that comes from celebrating a season or a tradition. During the merry Christmas season, we manifest our love and respect toward the season by gift-giving, family reunions, and singing Christmas songs in our own homes and on the streets in front of a house singing Christmas carols.

 

As they say, our Christmas traditions are primarily catered to children. That's why during the holidays, carolers most often comprise children holding makeshift instruments made of tin cans as drums and flattened soda metal caps as tambourines to knock on homes courteously asking for their aguinaldo. These carollers become happy when given money after singing, more so if the amount is slightly higher than what they could expect.

 

Lumina Homeowners are friendly, nice, and dependable for Christmas carollers who would come across the community. During every Christmas, Lumina homeowners also join the nation in its months-long celebration of Pinoy Christmas and decorate their affordable house and lot with Christmas lights, flickering lanterns, and Christmas trees.

 

If you plan to gift yourself a house and lot in the Philippines this Christmas, Lumina Homes is an excellent choice with its reputable history of providing quality and affordable house and lot for sale for home hunters from over 50 key locations around the country. Book a reservation with us today and become a Lumina homeowner very soon!

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