Singer-songwriter Yeng Constantino was a hopeful Star Dreamer in the inaugural season of “Pinoy Dream Academy” back in 2006, when she was asked to write an original Christmas song.
Thus was born “Pasko sa Pinas,” that was originally part of the compositions she submitted for the reality competition.
“Sa totoo lang, hindi ko matandaan ano 'yung nag-prompt sa akin to write ‘Pasko sa Pinas’ at that time,” Constantino told ABS-CBN News. “If my memory is right, parte siya ng competition namin sa ‘Pinoy Dream Academy’ na magsulat ng Christmas song.”
Of course, “Pinoy Dream Academy” was the show where Constantino was discovered and where she eventually bagged the Grand Star Dreamer title. That also started the successful career in the local entertainment scene of Josephine Eusebio Constantino-Asuncion or popularly known as Yeng Constantino.
“Ang naaalala ko while writing ‘Pasko Sa Pinas,’ inisip ko, ano ba feeling ng Pasko for me?” Constantino reflected. “Anong itsura ng Pasko ko kaya kasama ang mga words like tambourine na gawa sa tansa, parol, ninong, ninang at simbang gabi.”
“Pasko sa Pinas” brings back fond Christmas memories for Constantino, who recalls caroling in her neighborhood when she was a child growing up in Rodriguez, Rizal.
“Noong bata ako, 'pag mag-caroling kami sa kapitbahay, gumagawa kami ng tambourine na gawa sa tansa,” she remembered. ”Tapos 'pag eksaktong Pasko na, pumunta talaga kami ni Mama sa mga ninong at ninang ko.
“’Yung simbang gabi naman, isang memory lang ang reference ko doon. Niyaya kasi ng mga kaibigan ng Ate ko kaming magkakapatid na pumunta sa bayan para mag-simbang gabi, tapos naaalala ko na nakatulog ako sa simbahan. Super late na kasi.”
Just like other kids, Constantino always looked forward to Christmas celebrations. “Katulad ng ibang bata, excited ako 'pag Pasko kasi may dahilan para lumabas ng bahay ng mas late, makasama mga kalaro at mag-caroling.
“Pero ang pinaka-ayaw ko, ‘yung mag-biyahe ng malayo para mamasko sa mga ninong at ninang. Kasi busog na busog ka na, pero kailangan mo kumain sa bawat bahay na pupuntahan dahil respect ‘yun sa may bahay.”
“Pasko sa Pinas” ultimately landed in the roster of local and memorable Christmas songs every Yuletide season. It has even become a sentimental favorite by many.
“Ang ‘Pasko sa Pinas’ ay isa sa mga songs na hindi ko akalaing masusulat ko,” Constantino disclosed. “Noon, iba pa ang style ko ng pagsulat ng kanta. Isa ito sa mga songs na talagang nagpa-discover sa akin ng paglaro ng mga salita at pagbibigay ng kulay sa kanta through personal experience.”
“Pasko sa Pinas” is not the only OPM Christmas song that Constantino recorded. In 2007, she released “Ikaw at Ako,” that was included in the “Star Magic Christmas” album.
Constantino has another Christmas song that she collaborated with other songwriters, although that has yet to be officially released.
Before she tied the knot with Victor “Yan” Asuncion in 2015, Constantino was used to traditionally spending Christmas with her family. She made it a point to a point to spend Christmas with her parents.
However, married life for Constantino gave her a chance to always spend the Christmas holidays abroad with her husband. Before this pandemic, she always looked forward to the Christmas vacation. She would take time off from her usually hectic schedule and she and her husband always scheduled a trip out of the country every December, being her birth month, too.
“Pero this Christmas, hindi pwedeng lumipad, kaya malamang dito kami sa house and batian lang online with our families,” the singer said.
Constantino recently turned 32 last December 4, when she and her husband spent a few days at dreamy Amanpulo.
“Ang Pasko ay magiging makulay lamang kung ang mga kapiling mo sa araw na iyon ay ang mga taong mahal mo,” she said. “’Yan ang na-realize ko habang tumatanda ako.
“Sa kultura natin, minsan totoo din na kahit walang pera madalas kaya natin maging masaya dahil nakikita natin ang mga maliliit na bagay na dapat ipagpasalamat.”
Through the years, Constantino had the chance to also explore acting and even hosting. In 2013, she starred in the Cinema One Originals entry for the Digital Film Festival, Siege Ledesma’s “Shift.”
She also acted on the big screen in Alec Figuracion’s “The Eternity Between Seconds” (2018) and Crisanto Aquino’s “Write About Love” (2019), where she even bagged the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) best supporting actress trophy.
Back in 2012, Constantino even had a cameo in Joyce Bernal’s “Kimmy Dora and the Temple of Kiyeme,” starring Eugene Domingo.
In 2015, Constantino became one of the hosts of the second season of “The Voice Kids,” won by Elha Nympha.
In the Sunday noontime show, “ASAP Natin ‘To,” Constantino is part of the all-girl group, Divas, with Angeline Quinto. Kyla and KZ Tandingan.
Here are the other songs in our "Behind the Music" series.