Music

The “-Ber Months” Playlist in the Philippines

The Yuletide Season in the Philippines (unofficially but somehow) begins today! During the so-called “-ber” months, television networks, especially during morning shows (ABS-CBN’s Umagang Kay Ganda and GMA Network’s Unang HIrit) and news programs (ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol and Bandila; GMA Network’s 24 Oras and Saksi; GMA News TV’s State of the Nation) start counting the remaining days to Christmas Day, December 25. Also, radio stations in the Philippines start playing recordings of Christmas carols on-air.
Before everything else, let me show you something.
Jose Mari Chan

My photo op with THE Jose Mari Chan during the 75th Anniversary of Quezon City concert at the Araneta Coliseum. (circa 2014)

According to a meme posted on Facebook, singer-songwriter Jose Mari Chan is “in control of the malls’ and radio stations’ playlists” during the -ber months. Chan’s songs, especially “Christmas In Our Hearts” and “A Perfect Christmas” have been two of the most frequently played songs on the radio during the -ber months. According to an FHM article written in 2017, the late Bella Tan, then-head of Universal Records initially thought that “A Perfect Christmas” was more fitting for radio airplay than “Christmas In Our Hearts.” However, “Christmas In Our Hearts” became a monster hit in the early 1990s and the album bearing the same title has gained the Double Diamond Record Award, one of the few best-selling albums in the Philippines of all-time.
“Let’s sing Merry Christmas and a happy holiday.
This season may we never forget the love we have for Jesus.
Let Him be the one to guide us as another New Year starts.
And may the spirit of Christmas be always in our hearts.”

 

Trio APO Hiking Society’s biggest Christmas hit was “Twelve Days of Pinoy Krismas,” which bears the same melody as “Twelve Days of Christmas,” but with a Filipino twist.
“Ika-labing dalawang araw ng Pasko, binigay sa’kin ng nobya ko,
Labindalawang parol, labing-isang tuta
Sampung inaanak, siyam na case ng beer
Walong litsong baboy, pitong berdeng unan,
Limang pulang lobo!
Apat na payong, tatlong sakong bigas, dalawang payong,
At isang basketball na bago!
May pirma pa ni Jawo. Naks!”
APO has also released “Himig Pasko.”
Vehnee Saturno’s “Sa Araw ng Pasko,” sung by some of the pioneer recording artists of Star Music (formerly Star Records; which included Carol Banawa, Jolina Magdangal, Roselle Nava, Jamie Rivera, Ladine Roxas, among others), is also one of the most frequently aired Christmas songs. It speaks of how Filipinos wished their relatives would come home during Christmas. It also speaks of how wonderful Christmas is in the Philippines.
‘Di ba’t kay ganda sa atin ng Pasko?
Naiiba ang pagdiriwang dito.
Pasko sa ati’y hahanap-hanapin mo.
Walang katulad dito ang Pasko.
Lagi mo nang maiisip na sila’y nandito sana.
At sa Noche Buena ay magkakasama.”
“Ang Pasko ay kay saya kung ngayo’y kapiling na.
Sana pagsapit ng Pasko, kayo’y naririto.
Kahit pa malayo ka, kahit nasaan ka pa,
Maligayang bati para sa inyo sa araw ng Pasko.”

Christmas-themed love songs are also recurrent in the -ber months playlist. Apart from Chan’s “Perfect Christmas,” Gary Valenciano’s “Pasko Na Sinta Ko” and Ariel Rivera’s “Sana Ngayong Pasko” have also become standards. Both songs spoke of loneliness during Christmas. However, Valenciano’s “Pasko Na Sinta Ko” focused on regret.
Foreign singers have also made it in the Filipino airwaves during the -ber months. In fact, Jackson 5’s “Give Love On Christmas Day” is one of the most frequently played songs since it talked about the true value of Christmas, which is love, not necessarily materialism.
Moving on to musiconomics (music and economics), both GMA and ABS-CBN annually release Christmas station IDs accompanied by a song. Of all ABS-CBN’s Christmas station IDs, most of the people remember 2009’s “Star ng Pasko” and 2017’s “Just Love Ngayong Christmas.” During the Kapamilya network’s “Star ng Pasko” campaign, the so-called Parol Ni Bro (Santino’s endearment for Jesus Christ, in reference to TV series May Bukas Pa) were sold while during the “Just Love” campaign, “Just Love” shirts sold fast like pancakes.
Star ng Pasko talks about how God never left our side, despite whatever storm has come. In fact, the song was released on the same year when typhoon Ondoy hit the country and left some of the areas heavily flooded.

“Ang nagsindi nitong ilaw, walang iba kundi Ikaw.
Salamat sa liwanag mo, muling magkakakulay ang Pasko.”
On the other hand, “Just Love Ngayong Christmas,” talks how the different gestures of love are shown, especially during Christmas.

Ngayong Pasko’y pag-ibig ang kailangan ng daigdig.
Kay ganda ng lahat if we will just love.”
Music plays a huge role in setting everyone’s mood for a particular season, especially days or even months before the season. ’Tis the season to not only shop for gifts, but to also give back through other ways.

 

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