Timeless Filipino Love Songs New Generation of OPM Fans Should Know
Feb 14, 2021
Countless songs have already been created about love, painting such a universal emotion in its most glorious and heartbreaking forms. But hearing love songs penned by Filipino music-makers — in the vernacular — offers a different kind of experience. It hits closer to home and is downright more affecting.
And while many great OPM love songs have graced our recent memory, there’s still nothing quite like listening to the classics. This February, we’ve revisited our country’s musical past and gathered timeless Tagalog love tunes for the new generation of OPM fans to acquaint themselves with and indulge in.
O Ilaw (Aking Bituin)
Sa gabing malamig
Bituin sa langit
Idyllic and glistening with sincere feelings of adoration, “O Ilaw (Aking Bituin)” is one of the most popular “kundiman” compositions. “Kundiman”is a traditional Filipino love song characterized by gentle, sweet-sounding melodies and affectionately written lyrics, and is commonly used to serenade a muse. The 1934 song — most notably rendered by Ruben Tagalog — was composed by Pou Corales together with his wife Kea Odonzo.
Saan Ka Man Naroroon
Saan ka man naroroon, sinta
Pangarap ko’y ikaw
Pagka’t mahal kita
Asahan mong sa habang panahon
Saan ka man naroroon
In this 1968 piece, Restie Umali and Levi Celerio depict the enduring nature of love through music and lyrics that are as ageless as the emotion that they are portraying. The song is given life by Ric Manrique Jr. who, together with Ruben Tagalog, is considered as the country’s King of Kundiman.
Kapantay ay Langit
Kapantay ang langit, sinta
At lagi kong dasal sa Maykapal
Ang lumigaya ka
Mayroon ka nang ibang mahal
Hinding hindi pa rin ako magdaramdam
“Kapantay ay Langit” celebrates love as vast as the skies — the kind of love that transcends hurtful experiences and gives way for the sake of the other person’s happiness. While it is considered the signature hit of Asia’s Queen of Songs, Pilita Corrales, the George Canseco-penned opus was originally an English composition titled “You’re All I Love.” The iconic hitmaker translated his own song to Tagalog and became the theme song of the 1971 film of the same name, the version of which was recorded by premier singer Amapola.
Bato sa Buhangin
Kay hirap unawain
Pangakong magmahal hanggang libing
Sa langit may tagpuan din
At doon hihintayin
Itong bato sa buhangin
Esteemed OPM-makers Ernani Cuenco and Snaffu Rigor composed “Bato Sa Buhangin” specifically for the eponymous 1976 film starring Fernando Poe Jr. and Vilma Santos. Interpreted by Cinderella (a pioneering Manila Sound band where Rigor was a part of), the lilting piece characterizes love as transcendental — something powerful, something that goes beyond one’s death.
One of the greatest Filipino love tunes that the ‘70s has produced, Asin’s “Himig ng Pag-ibig” is exactly how love and longing should sound like. The images presented in this track are elevated by romantic guitar and sweeping orchestral sounds. And making it more memorable is Lolita Carbon’s husky vocals, which add further depth to the emotional textures of the song; a riveting contrast to the backing harmonies provided by Mike Pillora Jr. and Cesar Bañares Jr.
Hindi ko malimutan kung kailan nagsimulang
Matutong ikaw lang ang mahalin
At ‘di ko malimutan kung kailan ko natikman
Ang tamis ng iyong halik, yakap na nakapahigpit
Pag-ibig mong tunay hanggang langit
Off their third studio album “Pagkatapos ng Palabas,” Apo Hiking Society’s “Pag-ibig” lets listeners wax nostalgic about their first love. The song is tender and utterly endearing, encapsulating the blissful beginnings of someone’s journey to a love that is hoped to last a lifetime.
Maging Sino Ka Man
Ang pag-ibig ay sadyang ganyan
Tiwala sa isa’t isa’y kailangan
Dati mong pag-ibig wala akong pakialam
Basta’t mahal kita kailan pa man
Rey Valera, who was recently named KDR Icon of Musical Excellence during the 6th Wish Music Awards, is known for strings of hits that epitomize Filipino sentimentality. In his 1979 original “Maging Sino Ka Man,” he delves into one of the most moving definitions of love: Acceptance.
Nasa isip ka, napapanaginip ka
Kahit sa’n magpunta
Nalalasing sa tuwa
Kapag kapiling ka
Araw-gabi tayong dalawa
An anthem for people who are captivated by love, National Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab previously shared that he wrote the song as a gift for his wife’s last birthday before they tied the knot. Originally sung by Nonoy Zuñiga for his 1986 album “Feelin’ it All,” the track gained even more popularity when it was revived by Asia’s Songbird Regine Velasquez back in 2004 (Watch her Wishclusive rendition here).
Ikaw ang bigay ng Maykapal
Tugon sa aking dasal
Upang sa lahat ng panahon
Ang ibigin ko’y ikaw
The music and words of “Ikaw” come from Louie Ocampo and George Canseco, respectively. The ballad, recorded by Sharon Cuneta in 1993, starts softly and soars to an arresting emotional peak — embodying the narrator’s strong commitment to love her God-sent life-long companion.
Sagutin mo lang ako,
Aking sinta’y walang humpay na ligaya
At asahang iibigin ka
Sa tanghali, sa gabi, at umaga
Huwag ka sanang magtanong at magduda
Dahil ang puso ko’y walang pangamba
Lahat tayo’y mabubuhay nang tahimik at buong ligaya
People say that love is a verb. And in this Eraserheads classic, love (or infatuation) is expressed in various ways — from something as trivial as acting cutely while wearing a newly bought shirt to something as impressive as doing one’s college thesis. Though this unconventional serenade song first hit the airwaves in the ‘90s, its simple message is something that even the younger audiences today can surely relate to.