Many funerals and memorial services are influenced by external factors like culture and religion. Every aspect of a funeral or memorial service can be informed by religious beliefs and culture, including the music.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Traditional Filipino Funeral Songs
- Contemporary Filipino Funeral Songs
- Catholic Filipino Funeral Songs
Music plays a rich role in Filipino culture, so it isn’t surprising that it also holds a place of honor at funerals. Let’s explore some of the best funeral songs you might hear at a Filipino funeral.
Traditional Filipino Funeral Songs
The Philippines have a thriving music scene. A term called original Pinoy music (OPM) refers to any popular music performed by and written by Filipino singers or musicians. Many of these nostalgic songs may end up being played at a traditional Filipino funeral.
1. “Pangako” by Ogie Alcasid
Ogie Alcasid has dominated the entertainment scene in the Philippines since 1988. One of his most famous songs, “Pangako,” became popular thanks to its theme of undying and transcendent love. Either a solo version or a duet featuring Alcasid’s wife, Regine Velasquez, might be played during a funeral.
2. “Maalaala Mo Kaya” by Carol Banawa
Carol Banawa is a well-known Filipino singer and actress who has performed around the world. This tune is actually the theme song for a Philippine-based drama series. Thanks to its subject matter, it has also become a popular funeral song.
3. “Lumayo Ka Man Sa Akin” by Rodel Naval
Rodel Naval was a beloved Filipino singer, songwriter, and actor. He grew up in a close-knit family and wrote this song as a tribute to his late mother. Sadly, Naval also passed away at a young age, but his legacy lives on through this traditional funeral song.
4. “Kung Ako’y Iiwan Mo” by Basil Valdez
Basil Valdez is one of the most beloved singers in Filipino history. While he came up through the folk scene, he really found his niche in movie and TV theme songs. This sad ballad actually served as the theme song for a hit Philippine drama series and remains a constant favorite at funerals. You might hear it specifically at a funeral for a couple.
5. “Kahit Isang Saglit” by Martin Nievera
This touching ballad is about a person who wishes to see a deceased loved one just one more time. Nievera, who is known as the “Concert King” of the Philippines, won a prestigious Awit Award for his recording.
6. “Hanggang Sa Dulo ng Walang Hanggan” by Basil Valdez
This isn’t the first Valdez song on this list, and it likely won’t be the last. This moody song is about a couple staying in love despite the challenges they face. Valdez excels at crafting emotional songs that set the tone for a funeral.
7. “Saan Ka Man Naroroon” by Carol Banawa
Even though she released this song when she was a teenager, Banawa’s emotional maturity made this song a hit. It has been a mainstay at Filipino funerals ever since.
Contemporary Filipino Funeral Songs
Filipino funerals share a lot of commonalities with funerals from other cultures. This may include using more modern funeral songs instead of traditional or religious ones. You might expect to hear these contemporary Filipino funeral songs at a Filipino funeral.
8. “Huwag Ka Nang Umiyak” by KZ Tandingan
KZ Tandingan is a singer and rapper best known for winning “The X Factor Philippines.” She covered this popular song that had earlier fame when released by Ebe Dancel and the band Sugarfree.
9. “Ikaw Lamang” by Gary Valenciano
Like Basil Valdez, you can expect to see the name Gary Valenciano more than once on this list. Many of his songs have become popular for use at funerals. This Awit Award-winning ballad is technically a love song, frequently played at burials and funerals.
10. “Paglisan” by Color It Red
This gentle ballad isn’t necessarily what you would expect from an alternative pop-rock band. But its message about unending love makes it a popular selection at funerals. The title roughly translates to “leaving” or “parting” in English which gives some clues about its tone.
11. “Ang Buhay Nga Naman” by Noel Cabangon
Cabangon is a folk singer and composer known for crafting songs that deal with important social issues. This song about a loved one who has passed away is a modern-day funeral classic.
12. “Magpakailanman” by Wency Cornejo
Music is so important to Filipino culture that even TV theme songs can become something of a cultural touchstone. This song is the theme to a Philippine drama series with the same name. In recent years, it’s also become popular to play at funerals.
13. “Kanlungan” by Noel Cabangon
This is another emotional and realistic song by folk artist Cabangon. It reminds people of the regret they can feel when they don’t spend enough time with a loved one before their death.
14. “Malayo Pa Ang Umaga” by Rey Valera
Rey Valera is a beloved figure in Filipino pop culture and this is one of his most cherished songs. Its upbeat message might be unexpected at a funeral. The title literally translates to “The Joy Comes in the Morning.” But people gravitate toward its uplifting feeling of hope and happiness after dark times.
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Catholic Filipino Funeral Songs
The Philippines is an overwhelmingly Catholic nation. In fact, it is home to the third-largest population of Catholic people on the globe. Filipino Catholicism has its own flavor, as it has been heavily influenced by indigenous and conquistador practices. These Catholic funeral songs might be expected at a religious Filipino funeral.
15. “Hindi Kita Malilimutan” by Basil Valdez
This Basil Valdez song, which is loosely adapted from Isaiah 49:15-16, is a perennial favorite at funerals. If you attend a Filipino funeral, you will almost undoubtedly hear this song during burial or at a funeral mass.
16. “Tanging Yaman” by Carol Banawa
The title of this classic funeral song translates in English to “Only Treasure.” The piece was originally composed by a man named Manoling Francisco. Francisco has composed more than 150 songs, many of them liturgical in nature.
17. “Natutulog Ba Ang Diyos” by Gary Valenciano
This religious pop song talks about how God will lend you support in your darkest times. It has since been covered by Vina Morales, but the Valenciano version is more likely to be played as part of a funeral mass.
18. “The Warrior is a Child” by Gary Valenciano
This song was originally recorded by the contemporary Christian artist Twila Paris. Prolific Filipino singer-songwriter Gary Valenciano popularized his own version of it in the Philippines. The original is widely considered to be one of the greatest songs in Christian music. Meanwhile, Valenciano’s cover has gone on to become a popular funeral song.
19. “I Will Be Here” by Gary Valenciano
This is actually a cover of a song by the contemporary Christian artist Steven Curtis Chapman. Valenciano released his modern take on the track in the year 2000. This song, which celebrates the love between family and friends, is popular at weddings and funerals alike.
20. Traditional Catholic Funeral Hymns
Catholicism in the Philippines looks a little different to Catholicism elsewhere in the world. But some Filipinos will opt for a traditional Catholic funeral mass. In this case, they might gravitate towards certain Catholic hymns for the service:
- “Amazing Grace”
- “Ave Maria”
- “How Great Thou Art”
- “Let There be Peace on Earth”
Any of these songs might be right at home at a Catholic funeral in the Philippines.
Modern and Traditional Funeral Songs in Filipino Tradition
The Filipino culture is rich, diverse, and above all else, musical. Music plays an important role in the cultural heritage of every person in the Philippines. As a result, music is treated seriously. Most Filipinos even have an unofficial soundtrack to their lives.
So it makes sense that music also plays a key role in Filipino funerals. This list of modern and traditional songs would all be at home on a Filipino funeral music playlist.
- “70 Most Popular Filipino (OPM) Funeral Songs.” Spinditty, Spinditty, 6 November 2020, spinditty.com/playlists/Most-Popular-Filipino-Funeral-Songs-OPM-in-the-Philippines.