MANILA - The response to "Ikaw ang Liwanag at Ligaya" - the tune of ABS-CBN's 2020 Christmas ID - just a day after its launch has already reached the level of one of the network's most beloved jingles in the past, its co-writer said Saturday.
Robert Labayen, who heads ABS-CBN's Integrated Creative Communications Management (CCM), called the feedback they received from the public "unprecedented".
The song's hashtag #IkawAngLiwanagAtLigaya trended on Twitter during the 2 times its lyric video was launched Friday on iWant TFC and on other ABS-CBN platforms.
The video's views reached the million mark on Facebook in just 2 hours and on YouTube in 15 hours.
Within a day, its total viewership on ABS-CBN platforms on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram shot past 8 million, over 6 million of it on Facebook.
Even though viewers have always appreciated the network's Christmas songs, Labayen said the reception this time was "beyond our expectations".
"Alam kong magugustuhan nila ito, pero hindi ko inasahan na ganitong ka-intense ang pagka-gusto nila," he told ABS-CBN News in a phone interview.
(I knew they would like this, but I did not expect it to be that intense.)
"This is so much higher, so much more na kung paano sila nag-respond (than how they responded) in the previous years. I think halos pantay na niya o nalalampasan na niya 'yong (it has almost equaled or even surpassed that of) 'Bro, Ikaw ang Star ng Pasko'."
Labayen penned the 2009 "Bro" jingle, which instituted the Kapamilya ident as a hallmark of the Filipino Christmas season, and which remains the standard the network's later jingles are compared to.
The song's iconic status was reaffirmed with its revival 10 years later along with other selected ABS-CBN Christmas tracks in the 2019 station ID "Family is Forever".
"Bro" came out in the aftermath of typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng, which devastated Metro Manila, the surrounding regions, and north Luzon.
Because of those storms, Labayen scrapped ABS-CBN's planned Christmas ID that year and wrote a new one influenced by the calamities.
"'Yong mga tao, naghihintay ng something na bubuhayin ang kalooban nila sa panahon ng Pasko. Tapos dumating ang kanta, and that is how it served its purpose. Tapos ngayon, parang ganoon din," he said.
(People then were waiting for something that would raise their spirits during the Christmas season, and that is how it served its purpose. And now, it seems it has happened again.)
The lyrics of this year's song--co-written by Labayen and CCM staffer Love Rose De Leon--encapsulate a year marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, various natural disasters, and the ABS-CBN broadcast shutdown.
Its chorus and bridge, however, redirect the focus to God as the source of "light and joy", another trait the song shares with the "Bro" anthem.
But more than the views, what caught Labayen's attention were viewers' comments.
"Talagang lahat sila na-o-overwhelm. Sinasabi nila, 'Sa dami ng pinagdaanan natin ngayong taon, kailangan natin ng ganitong mensahe'," he said.
(Definitely, all of them were overwhelmed. They were saying, 'With the many experiences we went through, we really need this message'.)
Unlike before, he added, viewers took more notice of what the jingle had to say over who sang it.
"Noong nakaraang taon, maraming-maraming comments na naka-focus sa singers, sa artista, na ang galing ng singer, ang galing ng artista. Ito, mga 90% ng mga comments, naka-focus sa mensahe ng kanta--paano sila tinamaan, paano sila na-lift sa panahong ito."
(In previous years, so many comments were focused on the singers and artists--that they performed well and such. This one, around 90% of the comments were focused on the song's message--how they were affected, how they were uplifted during this time.)
POST-SHUTDOWN CHRISTMAS ID
Labayen said another factor behind the high response was ABS-CBN's loss of its broadcast franchise a few months back, which resulted in the retrenchment of over 4,000 workers.
CCM until then had around 200 personnel but was reduced to around 20 people, leading to concerns the annually-anticipated offering might be scrapped.
"Months and weeks before Christmas, may mga nagtatanong na 'Mayroon kaya, mayroon kaya?' So talagang hindi alam ng mga tao na mayroon o wala. Walang sigurado," he said.
(Some were asking, 'Would there be a Christmas ID? Would there be one?' So people really didn't know if there would be one. Nothing was definite.)
"So noong biglang dumating 'yong kanta at may mensaheng gustong-gusto nila, parang 'Wow', parang nag-spark ng something sa kanila."
(So when the song suddenly came out, and with a message they really liked, it was like 'Wow', it sparked something within them.)
Other comments Labayen saw harped on the network managing to deliver a high-caliber Christmas song despite the circumstances.
The release of ABS-CBN's first post-shutdown Christmas ID (and first without the word "station") showed that the tradition lives on, much like its strive to stay connected to its audiences.
Labayen expressed his team's thanks to all who reacted to, shared, and commented on the lyric video.
"Gusto kong malaman nila na talagang nasusulit 'yong pagod namin kapag nakikita namin ang appreciation nila--na nagkaroon ng kahulugan sa buhay nila 'yong kanta. Sobrang napapawi ang pagod ng CCM."
(I want them to know that it was really worth our effort seeing their appreciation for the song--that it gained meaning in their lives. It's a huge relief for CCM.)
ABS-CBN's actual 2020 Christmas ID, which integrates the song with stories of ordinary people, scenes from the year's events, and appearances of the network's personalities, airs on all its platforms this December 1.
Watch the 2009 Christmas station ID here:
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