Lucrecia Kasilag: An Embodiment of Original Pilipino Music

May 16, 2018


Defining OPM


There are varying definitions to the term Original Pilipino Music, OPM for short. Some would define it quite literally: through Filipino folk music, the originality of it derived from “traditional” as that definition. This music would represent the music of the tribes and the use of traditional instruments such as the gangsa or kulintang (“Original Pilipino Music”, 2012). More than often, others define Original Pilipino Music as music that uses lyrics from the local language, a response to Western songs and an exhibition of Filipino creativity. I fact, it was referred to as “Manila Sound” in the 1970’s. It was made popular by pop-rock sounds produced by groups like the Apo Hiking Society orperformers like Freddie Aguilar (Rodrigo and Tañedo, 2014).


However, others have a more inclusive take on the term. Jim Paredes himself states, “OPM is any music done by Filipinos.” (Rodrigo and Tañedo, 2014). This represents music created by Filipino bands like Eraserheads and Rivermaya, or solo vocal performers, like Regine Velasquez and Ariel Rivera (“Original Pilipino Music”, 2012). Given all these perspectives, it is evident that people always tend to ask what it really means for a musical piece to be described as “Original Pilipino Music”.


However, perhaps, the technical definition of Original Pilipino Music is merely irrelevant. Why does it really matter? What defines Original Pilipino Music can be merely irrelevant. Why does it really matter? What defines Original Pilipino music can be seen in what it embodies.


A characteristic pride in us Filipinos may as well embody such definition, an aspect that is more than a certain distinct sound to be considered Filipino. But more importantly it is the excellence and flourishing showcased by a Filipino through his or her genuine love for music and the country. 


Kasilag’s Inclinations


Given this, Lucrecia Kasilag, with her musical excellence and expression of genuine love for music and country reflected in her musical masterpieces, embodies this very essence of Original Pilipino Music. These characteristics were even acknowledged when she was honored a Philippine National Artist for Music in 1989; having integrated ethnic roots for an identity in music would later give her the title as the “First Lady of Philippine Music” (“Bayanihan: Dr. Lucrecia Kasilag”, n.d.).


First, Original Pilipino Music springing from the love of Filipinos for their own music,undoubtedly, Lucrecia Kasilag had a genuine love for the art form even from a young age. The musical masterpieces she created are results of the passion she developed for music.

At a young age, playing a variety of instruments such as the piano, Hawaiian guitar, violin, and having solfeggio lessons, her early life was imbued with music. She had the drive to learn more about the wonders of music later on, and chased pursuits that cultivated her love for music.


Being interested in our instruments, she had an inclination to the science of ethnomusicology (Kasilag, 2000). More than her formation, she had a desire to create and share music with others.


The passion and premium she attaches with music can be seen on how she continued to hone her craft by translating this love for music to others, even becoming an educator at the Philippine Music Conservatory of the Philippine Women’s University (where she would become the dean of later on) (Kasilag, 2000).


A Love for Country


Secondly, love for country is another trait that is embodied with Original Pilipino Music. The compositions of Kasilag’s highlights are their incorporation of Philippine folk music. Many of her works, with these instruments, present sounds from regions untapped of and unheard of at the time, by have received cultural awareness through her research (Kasilag, 2000).


Truly, she had an innate passion by giving instruments like the two stringed lute known as the kutiyapi, the Maranao drum known as the dabakan, the balingling, and the gitgit, a type of violin from Mindoro Adding emphasis to our unique sounds, and showcasing them abroad, she would regardless of platform or style, let a Filipino identity in her compositions.


This shows how much she valued music produced by her people and how important it was for her to act in ways that translated her love for the Philippines.


 Demonstrating Filipino Excellence


Lastly, Original Pilipino Music affirms the excellence of Filipino musicians themselves.In terms of Lucrecia Kasilag, this can be seen in the intricacies of her works. Her compositions with the incorporation of native instruments leave a lasting impression of the indigenous and ethnic.


Blending Eastern and Western influences in her music as well, she was able to create distinctive music with her creativity and skill of combining the two influences (“Himig features Lucrecia Kasilag”, n.d.).

With that, she has made more than 300 compositions within 50 years (Modernism in Philippine Music, 2000). Her excellence as a musician is affirmed through the awards and major works she composed through the years.


Some of these works are the Legend of Sarimanok, Ang Pamana, Philippine Scenes, Her Son, and the prize-winning production, “Toccata for Percussion and Winds”, Divertissement and Concertante. (“National Artist – Lucrecia Kasilag”, n.d.).




“Ipinakita mo kung paano ang musika ay talagang mahalagang daan para tayo’y magkaisa, magkaroon ng kapatiran, hindi hidwaan” (See, “Cultural community pays tribute to Lucrecia Kasilag”). This statement highlights how Lucrecia Kasilag can be considered as an embodiment of the Original Pilipino Music because she was able to live out by the characteristics that highlights a certain uniqueness and impact that is brought about by a Filipino musician. More than that, as a Filipino, she is able to show excellence and act based on a genuine love for music and the country.


Kasilag did not research on folk music and travel across the nation merely for the goal of producing a unique sound. What she valued the most was the identity of these people, that felt was needed to be preserved, loved, become the pride of. Her life and works are testament to what Original Pilipino Music should embody.



“Bayanihan: Dr. Lucrecia Kasilag.” Bayanihan - The Philippine National Folk Dance Company,


“Himig: Features Lucrecia R. Kasilag.” Himig: The Filipino Music Collection of FHL,


Kasilag, Lucrecia. My Story .Manila: PWU Publishing , 2000.


Modernism in Philippine Music: Lucrecia R.Kasilag in the Forefront.


“National Artist - Lucrecia R. Kasilag.” National Commission for Culture and the Arts,


“Original Pilipino Music.” THE OPM MUSIC, 30 Sept. 2012, original-pilipino-music/.


Rodrigo, Isabel, and Benny Tañedo. “Playback History.” The GUIDON, 20 Nov. 2014,


See, Aie Balagtas. “Cultural Community Pays Tribute to Lucrecia Kasilag.” GMA NewsOnline, GMA News Online, 1 Jan. 1970, 



Photo of Kasilag taken from: De la Torre , Visitacion R. Lucrecia R. Kasilag: an Artist for the World. V.R. De La Torre, 1985.

Photo of gangsa taken from:

Photo of kulintang taken from:

Photo of Hawaiian guitar taken from: Creative Commons, uploaded by doryfour.

Photo of dabakan taken from: Creative Commons, uploaded by Yanajin33.

Photo of gitgit taken from:  Creative Commons, uploaded by Enfo.

Photo of kutiyapi taken from:

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