A line-up of homespun tunes -- from the world-famous "Anak" to the tourism anthem "Piliin Mo ang Pilipinas" -- made a mark for the Philippines at a choral festival in Slovakia in early December.
The ambassadors who brought this music to Eastern Europe were a choir of 27 teenagers from an all-girls' school in Muntinlupa.
It was the first time for the PAREF Woodrose School Chorale to compete at the three-day International Festival of Advent and Christmas Music in the Slovakian capital Bratislava.
Conducted by their music teacher Myrene Carballo, they were the only competitors from Asia.
The girls brought home gold awards in two categories as well as two special awards.
"It's like we came from nowhere, because everybody was from Europe. They sounded so unique and so refreshing, and at the same time very strong and very confident, that's why they mesmerized the audiences there and the judges," said Woodrose junior high school principal Elinor Dioko.
Dioko, some teachers, and parents also went to Slovakia with the competitors.
"Anak" was one of the songs that won gold for the group in the children's choir under-16 category.
Meanwhile, their medley of music from the regions including melodies from the Cordilleras and the Ilonggo song "Dandansoy" also bagged gold in the folk songs with instrumental accompaniment category.
The chorale also took home two special prizes -- one for dramaturgy and the other, a grand prix award for folklore music.
The festival also gave them the opportunity to perform inside the city's cathedral and in the middle of the cold at the old city Market Square.
Video courtesy of PAREF Woodrose school
The girls described it as an educational and fulfilling experience beyond the competition.
"The most we learned was discipline and focus. But also we learned humility," said chorale member Feliza Beatrice Zaragoza, a Grade 11 student.
"Because since what we won was such a high accomplishment, we have to keep in our hearts that there are others who are better than us. That's what we have in our minds so that we can think we still have room for improvement."
They admitted that hearing the voices and technique of the European choirs made them nervous, but they held on to what they trained with.
Member Bea Cabauatan, a Grade 10 student, added: "Knowing that we represented not only our school but also the Philippines, it was a very fulfilling experience because it's not every year that a group of students like us can go to another country to show the beauty and culture of the Philippines as well as the talent we have as Filipinos."
The chorale returned to the Philippines on Thursday, hoping to get ready for their next opportunity to raise the country's flag abroad once more.