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Philippine Christmas Festival – A Review

Many of the songs in the selection are folksy, some are ballad and the rest are pop in their original composition and arrangement. However, in this album, Maestro Redentor L. Romero was successful in taking the songs in another level. His arrangement smoothly transitioned the songs into a classical symphony.

The album opens up with a festive air with the rendition of a Visayan folk song Ang Pasko ay Sumapit (Christmas Has Come). This was followed by two songs, Pasko na Sinta Ko (It’s Christmas My Love) and Miss Kita Kung Christmas (I Miss You At Christmas Time). Both songs are sad, pining for a missed beloved especially at Christmas.

The rest of the songs evoke the Filipino meaning of Christmas, depicting scenes in the Philippines that are typical in a Filipino family steeped in tradition and local customs.

Noche Buena (Midnight Feast) is a fast, happy song inviting everyone to join in the midnight feast prepared by the family. Misa de Gallo (Midnight Mass) describes the meaning of Christmas to the Catholic faithful. Kampana ng Simbahan (Church bell) is also about the midnight mass, reminding everyone not to forget it because it is an obligation and urges the listener to pray for blessings. Ang Pasko Ay Narito Na (Christmas is Here) is prayerful as its main theme is an offering to the Messiah. Paying respect to the elders and godparents are depicted in Mano Po Ninong (With Respect, Godfather).

Serenading or “karoling”, is an activity of children and young adults where they go house-to-house in the neighbourhood singing Christmas carols for money or gifts. This was playfully described in the song Ang Aming Bati ay Magandang Pasko (We Greet You A Merry Christmas). Sa Paskong Darating (This Coming Christmas) promises gifts for being good and obedient, I suppose this is addressed to children. In Sino si Santa Klaus (Who is Santa Claus), a western influence, the father explains to his young child who Santa Claus is at the same time teaches her the meaning and importance of Santa Claus and what he represents.

Other songs in the album are Payapang Daigdig (Peaceful World) and Pasko Na Naman (It’s Christmas Once Again). Again, these songs tell that Christmas for Filipinos is the time when love reigns.

The rendition of Filipino operatic singers and the harmony of the distinguished Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra blended so well and beautifully. The Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra was a key part of this album, it was not relegated as merely providing the music accompaniment and background.

The innate Filipino spirit embodied by the songs was not lost. This album is a manifestation of the musicality and artistry of all those involved in the production and recording, especially that of the conductor and arranger Maestro Redentor L. Romero.

Editor’s Notes:
About the Conductor: Maestro Redentor L. Romero was an internationally acclaimed Filipino conductor and has recorded numerous international repertoires. He has performed at the Carnegie Hall and the Bolshoi Theatre, among the many he has been to. He has not forgotten Philippine music and has great love for it that he has included it in his repertoire in every chance he got. Maestro Romero, truly a gem in Philippine Performing Arts, succumbed to cancer in 2000.

About the Songs: The English titles of the songs were provided by the producer/s of the recording and forms part of the album’s cover. The lyrics of the songs can be found in many websites.

About my copy: The CD was a personal gift from a friend who knows I love classical music and Christmas songs.

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Content copyright © 2013 by Rachel Meneses-Ponce. All rights reserved.
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