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The true love story behind Filipino Christmas classic 'Pasko Na Sinta Ko'

Rowena Papasin | TFC News Surrey, British Columbia

Posted at Dec 01 2022 01:31 PM

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The familiar strings of the Filipino Christmas classic 'Pasko Na Sinta Ko' brings back many different memories of loved ones.

But not too many people will guess that Filipino immigrant Alfredo 'Fredo' Gutierrez' is actually half of the inspiration behind the song.

Back in the 70s, Gutierrez was a student at the UP College of Music and a member of the UP Concert Chorus (UPCC). He was then in a relationship with another UPCC member, Melba Solidum.

She was his first love, and they were happy together. But fate had other plans, and Solidum had to leave him behind to study abroad.

"I had no choice. I had no means to go follow her there. I would have done so if I had the resources [because] I was pretty much in love with her right. First love. But I had to be left behind," Gutierrez shared.

Gutierrez’s voice teacher, UP Professor Aurelio Estanislao saw his heartbreak. Estanislao then put this into words, while composer Francisco Dandan put the melody to the lyrics.

"He saw that moment in my life. Christmas season and I was heartbroken. I was inconsolable, I was so sad," Gutierrez said. "And the brilliant mind in Tito Relli's person was, he was able to describe it into words, put it into lyrics and made a song out of it."

When Estanislao first sang the song with Dandan, Gutierrez said he just stood in awe.

"They were finalizing the song in Tito Relli's room but for me it was like, performance level singing that I witnessed... I could relate to it so much, but I didn't know that it was about me and my girlfriend."

'Pasko Na Sinta Ko' debuted on stage at the Cultural Center of the Philippines in 1977. It was first performed by the UPCC under conductor Prof. Rey T. Paguio, who asked Gutierrez to sing the first stanza of the song.

Gutierrez, who now lives in Surrey, was recently invited by the UP Alumni Association of BC to perform the classic during their Christmas party.

Among the guests was Deputy Consul General Arlene Magno, who said that she used to see Solidum when she first started working at the Foreign Service Institute.

"I didn’t know that there was a story behind the song, much less that I know the person, the subject of the song," Magno admitted. "Parang na-iimagine ko yung love story nila and you know, parang I can put myself in her place. It’s just sad na hindi natuloy yung kanilang relationship.

(It’s as if I  can imagine their love story and you know, it’s like I can put myself in her place. It’s sad that their relationship had to end.)

Gutierrez is proud that he’s been a part of the beloved Christmas love song but he believes it has now transcended its original message of lost love.

"If you were an OFW working abroad or whatever it is that you do elsewhere around the world, and you're far away from your family; you can be far away from your dearest friend; you can be far away from your husband, your kids, whoever. The theme is always there," he noted.

"The essence of the song is always like missing someone you love. Missing someone dear and you can't be with them during that Christmas season because you are far apart. So I would say it has become the universal essence of the song itself."

Solidum has since passed away.