ABS-CBN’s magical Christmas IDs

KAPAMILYA DAY - Kane Errol Choa - The Philippine Star
ABS-CBNâs magical Christmas IDs
20 Kapamilya artists joined forces to sing Ikaw ang Liwanag at Ligaya

Christmas in the Philippines will not be complete without an ABS-CBN Christmas ID that unites Filipinos worldwide with messages of love, faith and hope. Moreover, the songs’ positive messages have a universal appeal that resonates with people from different countries.

In 2018, a video of Israeli students singing ABS-CBN’s Bro, Ikaw ang Star ng Pasko went viral when a netizen posted it on Facebook. The kids, led by a Filipino boy born and raised in Israel, were singing before Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat. The song was a huge hit after the country was hit hard by typhoon Ondoy in 2009.

With the global pandemic this year, the anticipation for the ABS-CBN Christmas ID was high as people faced many difficulties. Netizens were ecstatic when the man behind ABS-CBN’s annual Christmas ID, Robert Labayen, confirmed in the Dear Charo show on Kumu that they were working on this year’s song.

Unlike previous years, the Christmas campaign’s kick-off came a bit late this time as the network faced many challenges.

When ABS-CBN finally streamed Ikaw ang Liwanag at Ligaya, the song recorded 2.5 million views on Facebook and 1.3 million views on YouTube for a total of 3.8 million views in less than 24 hours.

“We were confident we had a song that Filipinos would like, but the response to this year’s song was beyond my expectations,” said Robert, who is the head of ABS-CBN Creative Communications Management. “We got a million views overnight when it used to take us days to get that number.”

Robert, an award-winning advertising creative and recipient of Creative Guild of the Philippines’ Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014, was inspired by Filipinos doing good during bad times, which makes us keep faith in the Filipino.

One of the highlights of this year’s song is the use of dialects and foreign languages. What is the story behind it?

“ABS-CBN is every Filipino anywhere they may be in the country and the world. That’s what we always wish to convey. We also decided to put the multi-language part because the whole world shares in the hope of ending the COVID crisis,” he shared.

Ikaw ang Liwanag at Ligaya is the 12th Christmas ID that ABS-CBN has produced since 2009. The songs have been sung in various student choral competitions, played in public places, and elicited reaction videos from YouTubers.

Robert, who co-wrote the song with Love Rose de Leon this year, said he thinks of the reassuring message that Filipinos want to hear and writes the songs from their point of view.

“We always honor God, family and the Filipino character. We don’t talk about ABS-CBN,” he said. “When it comes to music, my team, led by Johnny delos Santos, has a really good taste in choosing melodies that are not baduy yet appealing to the majority. Cory Vidanes, our COO of broadcast, always wants them easy to follow.”

He believes a good Christmas song must have a universally-appealing theme like hope. And it makes him cry whenever he hears people singing ABS-CBN Christmas songs here or abroad.

“Sometimes secretly, sometimes openly,” he laughed.

Of all the ABS-CBN Christmas IDs, which is his favorite?

“They are all my children. I cannot have a favorite. But I think most Filipinos will benchmark all our Christmas IDs against Star ng Pasko,” he said.

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