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)

O, ilaw

Sa gabing malamig

Wangis mo’y

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

Alaala kita

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 

Mahal kita

Kapantay ang langit, sinta

At lagi kong dasal sa Maykapal

Ang lumigaya ka

Kahit ngayon, 

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

Bawa’t damdamin

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.

[READ: 7 Wistful and Heartwarming Wishclusives to Remind You of Your First Love]

Himig ng Pag-ibig

Tulad ng ibong malaya

Ang pag-ibig natin

Tulad ng langit na kay sarap marating

Ang bawat tibok ng puso’y

Kay sarap damhin

Tulad ng himig na kay sarap awitin

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.

Pag-ibig 

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. 

Araw-Gabi 

Araw-gabi

Nasa isip ka, napapanaginip ka

Kahit sa’n magpunta

Araw-gabi

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 

Ikaw ang bigay ng Maykapal 

Tugon sa aking dasal 

Upang sa lahat ng panahon 

Bawa’t pagkakataon 

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.

Ligaya 

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.

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