Monday, October 17, 2011

50. Philippine KUNDIMAN Pre-War OPM Records

KUNDIMAN Label on 78 rpm Shellac Record

One of my hobbies is collecting pre-war records mostly Kundiman in shellac, 78 rpm format.  The new generation, those who were born in the 1970s, have not seen or heard of this music format.  Most are familiar with the long playing (LP) vinyl record, cassette tape and CD but have not seen a shellac record.  Popularly known as gramophone record, it is similar to the modern vinyl record but is made of shellacque which is notoriously weak and brittle.

Pre-war Kundiman records were pressed in shellac 78 rpm records, but unfortunately due to our climate it breaks and cracks so easily and did not last the hands of time.  Also, many of these records were lost during the war.  I am sharing with you some classical Kundiman records that were preserved during the years.

To know more about Kundiman this article by Della G. Besa  titled Our Signature Love Song  explains this genre of music that we have forgotten.

ANTONIO MOLINA - Romanza / Preludio
He was a composer, conductor and music administrator.
Also a National Artist Awardee.

"The KUNDIMAN is the Philippines signature love song, generally expressing the forlorn lament of a faithful lover pining for his beloved. Written in triple time, and predominantly in the minor key, it is closely related in form to its predecessors: the kumintang, which is strangely enough, a war song; and the awit, direct offspring of the kumintang. Both these forms share the same rhythmic pattern and melodic inflection, which also reappear, although somewhat altered, in the kundiman.

ATANG DELA RAMA - Ang Aking Kahapon
The origin of the term kundiman is the subject of several theories, one being that is the contraction of  “kung hindi man”, literally meaning “if it were not so.” This phrase was a stock formula used in many early kundimans, which gives insight into the plaintive character of the song.

Interestingly, the form took on a patriotic cast in the early days as a reaction to the Spanish practice of forbidding the Filipinos any display of nationalism. The result was an outpouring of feelings in song, expressing love for a woman who symbolized the Motherland. “Jocelynang Baliwag” (circa 1896), for example, was popular among the revolutionaries, and called the “kundiman of the Revolution”, because although disguised as a long song dedicated to a young beauty of Baliwag, Bulacan called Josefa (Pepita) Tiongson y Lara, it really spoke of the country they were working to free (Happy Eden in which are enthroned/Enjoyment and sweet joy).

ATANG DE LA RAMA Lupang Pag-Ibig / Panganduhoy
She was the "Queen of Kundiman", also a National Artist awardee
 The era of the kundiman is generally set between 1800 and 1930, in which the form underwent several distinct phases. What started as an expression of love through an extemporized text set in preexisting melodies next underwent semistylization, in which the metric pulses of Western dance forms - the danza, the waltz, the fandango , were integrated into the musical style. Then came the change from the extemporized text to literary-poetic verse forms by poets and fictionists like Jose Corazon de Jesus, who wrote the lyrics of the still-famous, patriotic “Bayan Ko” (My Country: A bird free to fly/ Weeps when caged), Deogracias A. Rosario and Jesus Balmori. The songs, however, continued to express unrequited and undying love, along with a resignation to heartbreak and pain.

FORTUNATO RAMOS GALONG - Huwak Na Toy / Kundiman en 1800
During the early decades of the 20th century, in the American colonial regime, the kundiman underwent a final transformation as a result of the composers’ exposure to the academe. Formally trained musicians such as Fransisco Santiago and Nicanor Abelardo elevated it to the status of an art song. Santiago is credited with taking the simple folk song from and giving it three distinct parts. His first kundiman was “Anak Dalita” (Child of Woe) in 1917 (I am the child of woe/burdened with tears- Let your heart fall to me/ and let fall life and hope). Other important compositions were “Pakiusap” (Plea: I plead with you to take pity on me/ Even unto death, I only love once) and “Madaling Araw” (“Dawn”).

ACUNCION LOANCO - Kundiman / Alas Nueve Y Media
Nicanor Abelardo later wrote kundimans believed to have been inspired by Santiagos works. Among his most famous are Mutya ng Pasig” (Muse of Pasig), “kundiman ng Luha” (kundiman of Tears: Let fall your perfumed handkerchief/ to wipe away my heart’s tears), and “Nasaan Ka Irog” (Where are You, My Love). It was alos at about his time that kundimans were used by sarswela composers for their plays, love songs, a practice that would lead, in the late 1930s and after World War II, to similar use of the songs in film musicals.

“Bituing Marikit” (Beautiful Star), for example, was composed in 1926 by Nicanor Abelardo, to lyrics by sarswela writer Servando de los Angeles. Using the rhythm of a danza, it speaks of a lover begging for a ray of light from his loved one, a distant and unreachable shining star.

JOVITA FUENTES - Ay Calisud / Ualay Angay
She was the first female National Artist in Music
In contemporary times, the term kundiman has now come to mean not only a specific music-literary form, but also a particular musical sentiment and style. This sentiment is still felt in the romantic ballads by composers such as Ernani Cuenco, Geroge Canseco, and Leopoldo Silos. Jazz musicians and composers Angel Pena, for example, is known for a modern kundiman called “Iyo Kailan Pa Man" (Yours for Always) with words by master lyricist Levi Celerio, in which the sentiments reflect the traditional longing: the days have gone by/ and your bow has been forgotten/ and my heart, O my love/ waits in sadness.


Our Signature Love Song  By Della G. Besa , Kasaysayan, The Story of the Filipino People Vol. 10: A Timeline of Philippine History.

ATANG DELA RAMA - Masayang Dalaga / Kamuning

HELEN WEBER and HECTOR DE LARA - Kudyapi ng Puso / Noche De Amor

HELEN WEBER and HECTOR DE LARA - Isang Gabing Mapanglaw

DUO CRESPO and PEREIRA - Lambingan
RAMON CRESPO - Pusong Ng Hihiray

ISANG PAPALES - Sino Ma Ang Naghasik / Calisud

ATANG DELA RAMA - Luha ng Pagibig
MARIA RIPOLL - Lapitan Mo Ako
NATI ARELLANO - Amandha Cancion Mosica / Dansa De Anita

NATI ARELLANO - Buhay Ko / Alaut - Balitaw

Orquesta Filipina - Intermedio Moro / Halika


RAMON CRESPO - Kundiman ng Puso / Ala Ala Kita

RAMON CRESPO - Paalam sa Pagkadalag / Huay Mo Akong Limutin

RAMON CRESPO - Sylvia / Basang Sisiw

RAMON CRESPO - Taghoy ng mga Ulila / Panaginip

RAMON CRESPO - Ulila sa Pagibig / Hakikana Giliw

ROSA JOSE - Halika Mutya Ko
R RESURRECCION - Sa Duyan ng Pag-ibig

SIMPICIO HERNANDEZ - Ang Kundiman / Hibik ng Ulila

VICTOR ORCHESTRA - Tirana / Dejado


  1. Greetings! Have you ever thought of preserving the music contained in another audio format? It would be great if one may appreciate and reference it in the future. I know how fragile and rare these are, indeed.

    1. I am sure Mr. Nestor Reyes Vera Cruz of Yesteryears Music was able to digitize it and converted it audio file. He has some of these records.

  2. how did you produce the photos? what software did you use?i have a few old records which my parents gave to me. before they deteriorate, i like to have photos to remember them by. any tips would be highly apppreciated. thank you very much.

  3. So happy I found your blog! Marami sa plakang koleksiyon ng nanay ko ay ganito - kaya nang ma-Ondoy kami, pina-digitize ko bago tuluyang mabasag. Sana magkausap tayo minsan sa aking programa - 830pm tuwing Linggo sa dwiz882AM (webcast sa

    1. I saw some records of your mom Dely Magpayo, if I am not mistaken she sold it to Mr. Nestor Reyes Vera Cruz of Yesteryears Music. Saw the labels on the 78 rpm records.

  4. we have philippine folk songs in long playing records and philippine rondalla. if interested sir 099984786986. thanks.

  5. ask ko lang po kung bumibili ba kayo ng plakang mga ganyan marami kasi sa bahay pati old pono.tnx

    1. PWede siguro tingnan ga plaka nyo?

    2. May I take a look at your collection? Thank you.

  6. Ang ganda naman tingnan mga collections mo sir. Collect pa more heheh..
    Sarap kaya makinig ng mga OPM. :)

    1. Salamat. At talagang maganda makinig ng mga lumang Kundiman. You can go to Youtube and listen to some of these old song.

  7. I am interested in these recordings as they may help me in my dissertation, Sir. How many recorded songs are there in a 78 rpm disc? Tig isa lang ba, like the 45 rpm? How many minutes running time does each disc can hold? Are the songs recorded there, longer or shorter if it were compared to 45 rpm? Grateful, if you can enlighten me on this. Thanks a million in advance.