The Philippines has a beautiful relationship and history with music. Kundiman, the Philippine art song, emerged around the late 19th and early 20th centuries during a movement against western musical traditions. The genre, which expresses courtship and irrevocable affection, was a platform for reclaiming nationalist Pilipino identity. Key composers like Francisco Santiago and Nicanor Abelardo acted as pioneers, writing songs that borrowed elements from traditional folk music and texts to protest Spanish and American imposition. When natives' patriotic expression was deemed taboo under Spanish rule, the kundiman emerged as a retaliation embodying the Pilipino's love for the country. The kundiman is marked by passionate, sweeping symphonies and romance. It is believed that the romantic object of affection in kundiman songs are symbolic of the country.
According to Nicanor Tiongson in The Encyclopedia of Philippine Art, Vol. 6, the kundiman plays up these essential roots of Pilipino psyche: "sentimentality, [...] yearning for freedom from want and deprivation, and the aspiration for a better future."
Dive into the beauty of original Pilipino music with 10 songs to add to your playlist now. This isn't a definitive or "best-of" list - just a start!
1. Minamahal Kita (1940) Mike Velarde Jr.
2. Dahil sa Iyo (1937) Mike Velarde Jr.
3. Bituing Marikit (1926) Nicanor Abelardo
4. Pakiusap (1921) Francisco Santiago
5. Ang Maya (1905) Jose Estrella
7. Mutya ng Pasig (1926) Nicanor Abelardo
8. Madaling Araw (1938) Francisco Santiago
9. Buhat (1939) Mike Velarde Jr.
10. Irog Ako Ay Mahalin Ric Manrique Jr.