Sing to our future

CCP launches ‘Himig Himbing,’ a collection of lovely indigenous lullabies for children

SLEEP SONG Milo Tolentino's Hele Para Kay Elena

Singing “Rock-A-Bye-Baby,” “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” or any popular English nursery rhyme to pacify an infant is one thing, but how about singing a lullaby in Tagalog or a Visayan or Mindanaoan language? It was a calming experience for audiences to hear such lullabies at the recent launch of “Himig Himbing: Mga Heleng Atin (CCP Indigenous Lullabies)” at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP).

“Himig Himbing,” aimed at reintroducing the Philippine indigenous lullabies to contemporary audiences and developing nurturers that are grounded in Philippine songs and heles, featured eight music videos of lullabies from different regions.

SLEEP NOW NONOY Alvin Yapan' Katurog na, Nonoy

In realizing “Himig Himbing,” eight music videos of eight lullabies were developed based on the research of ethnomusicologist Sol Trinidad and then arranged by musical director Krina Cayabyab. Eight filmmakers—Sigrid Bernardo, Alvin Yapan, Carla Ocampo, Teng Mangansakan, Milo Tolentino, Mes De Guzman, Thop Nazareno, and Law Fajardo—created their respective interpretations of the lullabies.

The videos are “Sa Ugoy ng Duyan” (Tagalog), “Katurog na, Nonoy” (Bicolano), “Wiyawi” (Kalinga), “Aba-aba” (southern Mindanao, particularly sung by the indigenous group Subanon), “Hele” (a lullaby from a 1986 field recording of Dr. Elena Mirano taken in San Mateo, Rizal), “Dungdungwen Kanto” (translated as “I Will Love You,” the first line of an Ilocano wedding song), “Tingkatulog” (translated as “Sleeping Time,” a folk lullaby from Bohol), and “Ili, Ili, Tulog Anay” (translated as “Little One, Go to Sleep,” (Visayan).

ROCK A BYE Sigrid Bernardo's Sa Ugoy Ng Duyan

“I requested to take a look at unpopular lullabies,” says CCP board trustee and vice chair Michelle Nikki Junia, who initiated the idea. Being an early childhood music educator, Junia observes that there is scarcity of Filipino lullabies in her classes. She also feels that something must be done in order to find a middle ground to reach out to the young parents, ensuring that Filipino traditional lullabies will stay, progress, and be made aware to the public.  

WITWIT Carla Ocampo's Wiyawi

“The importance of these oral traditions is that they give children, even infants, an idea of their identity,” Junia explains.

The importance of these oral traditions is that they give children, even infants, an idea of their identity.

Another purpose of CCP in pursuing “Himig Himbing” is to promote musical awareness, especially for the young in terms of its effect on their brain development. “There have been a lot of studies that show that music has positive effects on children’s brain stimulation, even before they are born,” says Junia, who recognizes the power of music and the arts in academic learning or preparedness. “The ear is the closest sensory organ to the brain responsible for distributing information to the important regions of the brain. The first sensory organ that develops in an unborn baby is the ears. It makes sense that it needs to be stimulated. The lullaby is a soothing form of music suitable for infants, for very young children.”

CCP BOARD TRUSTEE Michelle Nikki Junia

Audiences who get to watch the videos will surely have a memorable takeaway.  “I think the young parents would be very excited to have a new set of repertoire to sing to their babies,” says Junia. “There are not many activities you can do for infants. It’s really a repertoire of songs that can truly help them in this stage to nurture their young ones.”

The videos can be viewed on the CCP Facebook page.