UK-based Pinoy nurse brings together musicians for int'l ‘Liwanag at Ligaya’ cover

Anjo Bagaoisan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 25 2020 07:25 PM | Updated as of Dec 26 2020 03:10 PM

UK-based Pinoy nurse brings together musicians for int'l ‘Liwanag at Ligaya’ cover 1
Instrumentalists combine for a collaboration cover of the ABS-CBN 2020 Christmas theme. Screengrab from Youtube / Riya Jane Yulde

MANILA - Among many covers and performances inspired by the light and joy of ABS-CBN’s “Ikaw ang Liwanag at Ligaya”, one instrumental rendition takes its cue from the song’s multilingual bridge.

This cover was performed by 22 musicians, most of them violinists from the Philippines, Qatar, Libya, and the United Kingdom.

One of them, a British man, did not understand the words to the Filipino carol but still agreed to collaborate, said Riya Jane Yulde, who produced the video.

“I asked him if he was interested to join. I told him the theme and translated the message of the song, and he was happy to be a part of it. I’m glad he did say yes,” Yulde said.

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For Yulde, 33, a nurse in Brighton, UK, that is the power of music--and the message of hope exemplified in the Kapamilya network’s 2020 Christmas ID

She called the combination of melody, arrangement (both c/o Thyro Alfaro) and lyrics (courtesy of Robert Labayen and Love Rose De Leon) “just right” in spreading some Yuletide cheer.

But she added the message also reached into emotions and experiences brought about by the pandemic.


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Yulde with fellow health care workers in Brighton. Courtesy of Riya Jane Yulde

Working at the trauma unit of a local hospital, Yulde saw first-hand the impact of COVID-19, not just on their patients but also on fellow Filipinos in the UK.

She said the uncertainty that came with the fight to contain, treat, and prevent the disease has been challenging for them both physically and emotionally.

Remembering how a portion of the song spoke to that drove her to tears.

“Maraming nawalan ng trabaho, maraming nagsa-suffer. But at the same time, ‘yong lyrics--lalo na ‘yong doon sa line nina Regine and Ogie [Alcasid]--marami man ang nagbago sa panibago, the new normal, pero hindi nagbabago ang pagmamahal ni Lord. And that's the reason why we celebrate Christmas kasi ‘di ba nga, dumating siya,” she said.

(Many lost their jobs, many suffered. But at the same time, the lyrics, especially the lines sung by Regine and Ogie Alcasid--say that while much has changed in the 'new normal', God's love is unchanged. And that's why we celebrate Christmas, since He did come.)

Yulde has been a fan of ABS-CBN’s yearly Christmas station ID tunes, even doing solo covers of the 2009 and 2019 offerings “Star ng Pasko” and “Family is Forever”.

For her, the songs never fail to remind her of home, having grown up overseas and now working in another country far from family.

“As OFW, parang ang nami-miss ko is ‘yong spirit ng Christmas kasi it's a little different here than in the Philippines, na September pa lang, nararamdaman mo na ‘yong simoy ng Pasko,” Yulde said.

(As an overseas Filipino worker, I miss the spirit of Christmas since it's a little different here than in the Philippines where you already feel Christmas in the air as early as September.)

When the 2020 Christmas ID song came out and she was encouraged to do a new cover, she felt it had to be bigger than that.

“Para sa akin, this is not a cover na pang isang tao (for me, this is a cover not just for one person). But instead, I think it will work better as mass collaboration.”

Yulde found inspiration in how the song was produced--by the artists recording in their own houses.

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She transcribed the notes of the melody, tapped a contact to arrange the harmony parts, and sent the song sheets to the participants with an instrumental backing track to play alongside.


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Riya Jane Yulde in a tutorial video discussing violin types. Screengrab from YouTube/Riya Jane Yulde

The cover features musicians of various ages who answered a callout for renditions on Yulde’s YouTube channel.

It’s an achievement for her to be able to attract a cast of different violin skill sets for the video, considering she never had any formal training in 10 years learning the instrument.

Aside from song covers, Yulde posts tutorials on the channel and conducts instrument giveaway promos, hoping to inspire young people especially in the Philippines who might have been intimidated by the price of lessons or a violin itself.

This was the avenue where she tried doing her first collab: a cover of “Heal The World” brought about by the initial lockdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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But while she got help mixing the audio for the first video, Yulde produced the “Ikaw ang Liwanag at Ligaya” cover herself.

The entire process from audio mixing to video overlaying combined to around 3 days worth.

Still, she does not see it as a credit to her alone.

"This is a group effort. I think it’s the spirit of participating for the spirit of Christmas," she said.

"I'm so grateful sa mga naki-participate kasi hindi rin siya mapapansin o magiging success if it weren't for them.”

(I'm so grateful to those who participated in the video, because it would not be noticed or become a success if it weren't for them.) #


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