MANILA -- What’s a Filipino Christmas video without Pinoys singing along from across the islands and the globe?
It’s a segment that has been a fixture of ABS-CBN’s Christmas station IDs for nearly two decades.
But for 2020, that representation goes a step further -- into the song’s lyrics itself.
The bridge of this year’s jingle “Ikaw ang Liwanag at Ligaya” features the titular words for light and joy rapped and sung in 20 local and international languages -- an unexpected gift from a network that only months earlier lost its national broadcast reach.
Aside from Filipino and English, among the tongues heard are Ilocano, Hiligaynon, Tausug, Korean, French, and Hebrew.
For songwriters Love Rose De Leon and Robert Labayen of ABS-CBN’s Creative Communications Management (CCM) team, this inclusion reflects how Filipinos and the global community shared and faced the same challenges in 2020, especially the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Lahat naapektuhan --‘di lang Pilipinas, ‘di lang Metro Manila, kung 'di buong mundo. So kailangan natin maipakita ‘yong scope o ‘yong magnitude noon sa kanta,” Labayen told ABS-CBN News in a phone interview.
(Everyone was affected -- not just the Philippines, not just Metro Manila, but the whole world. That’s why we needed to show that scope or magnitude in the song.)
De Leon said this was why she included languages from countries like China, Italy, and Spain, which were some of the first countries that saw a spike in COVID-19 cases.
“Naging isang buong mundo tayong humarap sa pagsubok (We became one world facing a trial),” she said in a separate interview.
Labayen came up with the idea to add translations to the lyrics.
For him, it was an extension of their commitment at CCM to communicate the sentiments of Filipinos living beyond the capital through their plugs and promotional campaigns.
“Halos lahat ng nakaraang [station ID] natin, lagi kami nagpapakita ng Filipino in Canada, Middle East, US, kasi gusto ko talagang ma-feel natin, ng ating mga Filipino, at lahat tayong taga-ABS-CBN, na isang family tayo sa buong mundo,” he said.
(Nearly all of our past station IDs always showed Filipinos in Canada, the Middle East, the US because we really want us Filipinos and even us at ABS-CBN to feel that we are one family throughout the world.)
The last time other languages were used in an ABS-CBN Christmas station ID was in 2007’s “Walang Mag-iisa Ngayong Pasko.” It had Christmas greetings delivered by regional personalities and the chorus repeated in various translations, albeit subdued.
This was before “Bro, Ikaw ang Star ng Pasko” made the jingle the centerpiece of the Christmas ID.
Labayen instructed De Leon and the rest of the team to make sure the Philippines’ three main island regions -- Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao -- were represented in the languages picked.
For the international languages, Labayen wanted to include areas that had many overseas Filipinos, like Canada where French is a national language.
To get the words translated correctly, CCM sought the help of fellow Kapamilyas -- the people of ABS-CBN’s shuttered regional stations and its continuing global bureaus under The Filipino Channel (TFC).
De Leon said this collaboration was nothing new, but under changed circumstances this year.
The network retrenched its provincial workers and closed the stations in August as a result of Congress thumbing down its franchise renewal.
Despite them no longer being connected with ABS-CBN, De Leon said their former regional partners still pitched in.
They provided not only the translations but also pronunciation guides.
“Nakakataba ng puso na isang message lang namin, ready talaga sila lahat to help. Wow ‘yong pagiging Kapamilya, ‘yong pamilya,” De Leon said.
(It’s heartwarming that with just one message from us, they were all ready and willing to help. Being a Kapamilya is wow, indeed a family.)
It was an effort that paid off when the song came out, Labayen said.
“May mga taga-probinsya na natutuwa na nasali ‘yong [language] nila. So more people felt more a part of it dahil doon,” he said.
(There are those from the provinces who are glad their languages were included. So more people felt more a part of it because of it.)
Labayen added the bridge is the part that moves him to tears with the feeling of a “global Filipino family.”
Ultimately, the multilingual bridge is an extension of the song and the station ID’s intent -- which is to serve as an invocation, not just for Filipinos but for the world.
“Panalangin natin lahat ito (This is all our prayer),” De Leon said.
“Marami tayong pagkakaiba-iba, pero parang at the end of the day, iisa lang naman tayo ng gusto, ‘di ba? Na bumalik ‘yong ligaya, magkaroon tayo ng liwanag -- kung ano’ng maging liwanag sa ‘yo.”
(We may have many differences, but at the end of the day, we only want the same thing, right? That our joy would return, that we would gain light--what that light would be for you.)
But the bridge does not actually end with the 20th translation.
The line that follows -- ”Liwanag at ligaya, nagmumula sa ‘Yo, ikakalat sa mundo” -- is a call for everyone to also be a vessel of light and joy.
De Leon said it was prompted by a comment from ABS-CBN chief operating officer for broadcast Cory Vidanes when the song was being reviewed.
“Sabi niya, ‘Parang bitin ‘yong translations, dapat may conclusion,’” she said.
(Vidanes said, ‘The translations don’t feel enough, there has to be a conclusion.’)
“So naisip kong conclusion ay ‘yon nga, ano ba’ng gagawin natin sa light and joy na nakukuha natin sa Diyos, sa mga Kapamilya natin, sa mga mahal natin sa buhay? Siyempre ikalat ‘yon, ‘di ba, ipasa ‘yon sa mundo.
(That’s the conclusion I thought of -- what should we do with the light and joy we receive from God, our family members, our loved ones? Of course we should spread it and pass it on to the world.)
The unexpected gift reminding its listeners to give back.
WHAT LANGUAGES ARE FEATURED IN THE “IKAW ANG LIWANAG AT LIGAYA” BRIDGE:
Liwanag, Ligaya! (Filipino)
Light, Joy! (English)
Claridad, Alegria! (Chavacano)
Kasanag, Kasadya! (Hiligaynon)
Lamrag, Kalipay! (Waray)
Sahaya, Kakuyagan! (Tausug)
Kahayag, Kalipay! (Bisaya)
Raniag, Ragsak! (Ilocano)
Liwawa, Liket! (Pangasinan)
Sigay, Lilini! (Maguindanao)
Liwanag, Kaogmahan! (Bicol)
Sulu at ing tula! (Kapampangan)
希望 , よろこび Kibou, Yorokobi! (Japanese)
Illumina, Gioia! (Italian)
阳光 , 喜悦 YangGuang, XiYue! (Mandarin Chinese)
Lumiere, Joie! (French)
빛 , 즐거움 Bit, Jeulgeoum! (Korean)
أضواء ,فرح Adwaa', Farah! (Arabic)
אור, אושר ‘Or’, Osher! (Hebrew)
Luz, Alegria! (Spanish)
Liwanag at ligaya
Nagmumula sa ‘Yo
Ikakalat sa mundo!
Watch the full ABS-CBN 2020 Christmas station ID here: