Music, Television

Hear The Angel(s) Voices!

Last Friday, November 16, the Big Shot Trio TNT Boys launched their Christmas single, their own version of “O Holy Night,” on ABS-CBN’s “It’s Showtime”.

Aside from promoting their upcoming concert, “Listen: The Big Shot Concert,” they performed the said song with the BFFC singers (or Best Friends of Froilan Canlas; a choir composed of friends and supporters of Songsmith and the TNT Boys’ vocal coach Froilan Canlas) and the TNT Band (headed by the concert’s musical director Elhmir Saison). The instrumental parts were arranged by Naldy Rodriguez while the vocal parts (both the TNT Boys’ and the BFFC Singers’ parts) were arranged by Canlas. 
Having invited by the Songsmith himself to become part of this production number, I personally enjoyed doing this stint. Looking forward to more opportunities similar to this!

With the Songsmith himself, Mr. Froilan Canlas
BFFC Singers with Mr. Froilan Canlas

This particular version has a grand choral entrance, which multiplies the power of the instrumental parts. As the choral part ends, Keifer starts soft in the first stanza and so does Francis. Mackie’s “A thrill of hope” part reminds me a bit of Mariah Carey’s version because of his vocal shifts. The song gradually progresses when all of them sing in harmony during the “Fall on your knees” part. The BFFC singers re-enter with the variation of the opening passage before their contrapuntal “A thrill of hope part.” The song grows bigger when the TNT Boys and BFFC singers sing together in “Fall on your knees.” The most climactic part is during the key change in “O night divine” from a B-flat to a D-flat. In this particular part, the boys’ sing in the whistle register. The song tones down a bit in the last “O night divine” after their counterpoint with the BFFC singers. Before the instruments fade little by little, both groups sing the same line, “O night divine,” which ends with the boys’ whistle register. Then they sing the line, “O night divine,” in a soft unison before the “O holy night” counterpoint with each other. The song ends softly with the BFFC singers’ and the TNT boys’ D-flat chord.

Want more from the Big Shot Trio? Catch the TNT Boys in “Listen: The Big Shot Concert” on November 30, 8pm at the Araneta Coliseum, together with Vice Ganda, Jed Madela, K Brosas, Tawag ng Tanghalan Season 1 Grand Champion Noven Belleza, Tawag ng Tanghalan Kids Grand Champion Jhon Clyd Talili, Tawag ng Tanghalan Season 2 Grand Champion Janine Berdin, fellow Your Face Sounds Familiar Kids performers Chun-sa Jung, Xia Vigor, Noel Comia Jr., Esang de Torres, Krystal Brimner, Sheenna Belarmino, and Onyok Pineda. Box, Upper Box, and General Admission tickets are still available at Ticketnet Outlets.

Globalization, Sociology


I originally wrote this for my Special Problems in Musicology (MuL 198) class. These are just some of my views on one of the most celebrated traditions during Christmas. Minor edits are done.


The Yuletide Season has come once again and some shopping malls have started holding pre-Christmas sale fairs to allow gift-givers to spend less without dampening their thoughtfulness. Some radio stations in the Philippines have already played some of the most popular Christmas originals, mostly by Jose Mari Chan. However, these manifestations during the “-ber” months only reflect the mercantilistic and capitalist side of preparation for Yuletide celebrations. It even reached the extent that people would forget the more spiritual context of celebrating Christmas. In relation to the issues of capitalism, this paper would discuss the problematic side of the people’s high obsession with exchanging gifts during Christmas.

The exchange of Christmas gifts, more known as the “Kris Kringle” or “Monito Monita,” is often done during Christmas parties held in schools, offices, and organizations. Preparations are often done, either weeks or days before by collecting all the names of the participants wherein each participant would randomly get a piece of paper which contained another participant’s name. He/she would not be allowed to reveal his/her recipient until the day of the party. As for the gifts, they may fall under a specific team (e.g., “Something shiny,” “something soft”). Sometimes, each participant would provide his/her “wish list” to guide the giver in shopping for the gift. Sometimes, there were no drawing of lots done so the gift exchange is sometimes done through Christmas stories with the words “LEFT” and “RIGHT,” which signify change of direction wherein the final recipients are revealed at the end of the story (del Rosario, n.d.).

The provision of these so-called “wish lists” is however problematic. The true spirit of Christmas has become more difficult, especially if theses lists contained expensive items, such as iPads, designer bags such as Louis Vuitton, DSLR cameras, laptops, etc. However, no matter how expensive or inexpensive the gift is, the thought is still more important. Price should not become a big deal in buying and giving gifts (Tenorio, 2015). But, not everyone is willing to give nor receive gifts, despite the presence of the person’s emotions (Tuazon, 2015). Some of the dangers in becoming too obsessed with exchanging gifts are the following: guilt for the part of the recipient and tendency to give back or the so-called “kaliwaan” (Tuazon,2015). The concept of “kaliwaan” deals with the notion that someone should give back whenever he/she receives something (Tuazon, 2015). In giving gifts, one should pay it forward, rather than pay someone back (Arada, 2015). Based from Marilyn Strathern’s analysis of Melanesian gift economies, she mentioned that gifts were objects which became an avenue in making relationships visible. In relation to the culture of “kaliwaan”, reciprocation used to be a divine concept but it later became materialistic, opportunistic, and consumerist, which slowly ingrained in Philippine culture that one is often pressured to give something (Tobias, 2015).

A person’s social status is likewise one of the things that rather made exchange of gifts, not limited to Christmas gifts a business. While the selection of godparents for weddings and baptism was initially meant for the child’s and/or couple’s spiritual growth, it has been based on social status and/or power (Tobias, 2015). Some would even go out of their way by choosing their bosses as one of the godparents for they knew that their bosses would either elevate their status symbol or help them financially over time (Tobias, 2015).

Since it has become unethical in the Philippine society not to give back, it has become a pressure to the Filipinos to give gifts which made gift-giving a business, rather than a social activity. The “utang na loob” culture has been exasperating this situation for the person is forced to give something best to the people they are grateful to, even if it meant spending beyond their means (Arada, 2015). It would be embarrassing for him/her not to do so for he/she would seem ungrateful in the eyes of the society. For instance,this was one of the reasons why giving gifts to any government official and/or employee. According to the R. A.  No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) and Presidential Decree No. 46 (Giving of Gifts on any Occasion) of 1972, doing such practice for better favors and/or better treatment is punishable by law.

In the year 2007, security personnel of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) were warned by then-general manager of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), Alfonso Cusi on greeting passengers “Merry Christmas,” which could equate to requests for either money solicitation. Small talks which could indirectly mean a request for something were likewise not allowed (Punongbayan, 2007). However, in the year 2016, it was clearly allowed for the NAIA personnel to greet passengers a “Merry Christmas” but without facing their palms up, as per MIAA general manager Ed Monreal. Monreal also warned in jest that those personnel caught soliciting gifts ‘might not see Christmas because they’ll be sent to the freezer and thawed by New Year’. The same warning also applied to the Bureau of Immigration and Bureau of Customs employees based in NAIA (Andrade, 2016).

Both politics and capitalism have affected the culture of gift-giving, especially during Christmas. It likewise had both good and bad effects. One of the positive effects of gift-giving is that the person’s relationship would be remembered through an emblem. However, price should not dictate the person’s significance to his/her recipient.


Andrade, Jeanette. “Airport staff told: OK to say Merry Christmas, but… Philippine Daily Inquirer. 26 November 2016.

Punongbayan, Michael. “No more merry Christmas at NAIA”. philstar Global. 17 October 2007.

Quimbo, Rodrigo. “Anti-Corruption in the Philippines”. Conventus Law. 9 September 2016.

See, Aie. “The grace behind Filipino gift-giving”. Philippine Daily Inquirer. 25 December 2015.

Tenorio, Sherry. “Christmas Giving – Scrooge or Not?. illustradolife. 7 December 2015.