(Ed's Note: We are starting this regular feature "Behind the Music" which will feature stories behind OPM songs. With the holidays fast approaching, we will start this series with some favorite Christmas tunes.)
MANILA -- Ariel Rivera had never done a Christmas album when he received the offer to record original holiday tunes for the album, “Paskong Walang Katulad,” back in 1993.
Undoubtedly, the chance of recording a Christmas album thrilled Rivera then. He had previously charted many hit ballads and a Christmas album was something he had never recorded yet at that time.
“It has been so long that I’ve forgotten the exact date I received and recorded the song [‘Sana Ngayong Pasko’],” Rivera told ABS-CBN News.
The idea to record a Christmas album was presented to him by BMG Records executives Narciso Chan, Vic Valenciano and Rudy Tee. The company was the first recording outfit he signed up with when “Sana Kahit Minsan” first hit the charts. Of course, the composer of “Sana Ngayong Pasko,” Jimmy Borja, was around, too.
“When I was asked then if I wanted to do a Christmas album, I jumped at the chance knowing that of all my albums I had done and what I had yet to do, a Christmas album would be the album that would most likely have an enduring mark,” Rivera said.
He didn’t know Borja at that time. “But I was immediately thankful because we all knew ‘Sana Ngayong Pasko’ was the song that stood out in the album as soon as we heard it,” Rivera recalled. “Vic, Narciso and I always had this process of listening to all the submitted songs for all my albums under BMG Records. We thought ‘Sana Ngayong Pasko’ was a standout as soon as we heard it, even in its raw condition.”
The beautiful and sentimental Christmas ballad became the carrier track of “Paskong Walang Katulad.” In no time, “Sana Kahit Minsan” has undoubtedly become one of the most popular OPM Christmas songs to date.
Through the years, even as “Sana Ngayong Pasko” was also recorded by other local artists, including Lea Salonga, Rivera remains “eternally grateful” the beautiful song is undoubtedly associated to him.
“I am humbled,” he gushed at the popularity of one of the most iconic Christmas ballads ever recorded and how it was embraced by individuals and couples.
“I just think the lyrics, as well as the music of ‘Sana Ngayong Pasko,’ somehow relates to a lot of people to a certain extent,” Rivera said. “During the Yuletide season, we seek to be with the people most important to us and people we love. But somehow, due certain circumstances, it doesn’t always work out that way.”
In 2009, “Sana Ngayong Pasko” was even made as the theme of a star-studded Christmas family drama series of the same title.
Rivera can no longer recall if “Sana Ngayong Pasko” was the first track he recorded for “Paskong Walang Katulad," which was officially released in November 1993.
“Time has gotten the best of me,” he unabashedly laughed. “One thing for sure though, it has become an album I’m very proud of.”
Other original tracks in “Paskong Walang Katulad” are “Sa Paskong Ito,” “Silent Night Na Naman,” “Kahit sa Pasko Lang,” “Pasko Na, Pasko Na,” “Bakit Araw Pa ng Pasko,” “Nakaraang Pasko,” “Pasko sa Maynila,” “Sana Araw-Araw ay Pasko,” plus the English tracks “Give Our Love Today” and “I Dream of Christmas.”