[REVIEW] A Story, A Prayer and A Vow (Ikaw Ang Liwanag At Ligaya: The 2020 ABS-CBN Christmas Song)

“Kulang ang Pasko kapag walang ABS-CBN Christmas station ID.”

2020 has been a tough year for ABS-CBN because of the Congress’ non-issuance of broadcast franchise. The once brightest free TV and radio network in the Philippines has lost its shining glory which resulted to the loss of jobs of thousands of its talents, employees and even its managers. Some of its homegrown A-list stars have to accept other jobs from rival networks and transfer to other talent management firms to survive. On the other hand, the public saw the loyalty of celebrities to the company despite its absence in traditional means of news, information and entertainment. Many of them chose to stay and some of them expressed their intention to help the management in bringing back their home to their Kapamilyas.

Months after the shutdown, the network is picking up the pieces of its broken glory. And as Yuletide season starts, ABS-CBN is taking this chance to redeem its reputation in the midst of the ongoing struggles they’re facing. And there’s no other way to display their might but to continue a long-standing tradition on Philippine television every Christmas which they started, 18 years ago.

After months of anticipation, this afternoon, ABS-CBN has launched the lyric video of “Ikaw ang Liwanag at Ligaya” (You are Light and Joy), their official song for the 2020 Christmas station ID. It premiered on a very different platform (IWantTFC) and it has good reasons, which we will discuss in a bit.

For someone who’s always excited for ABS-CBN’s Christmas station ID ever since “Isang Pamilya, Isang Puso Ngayong Pasko” in 2002, I can say with complete honesty that the lyric video and the song itself didn’t give me the element of surprise. BUT DON’T GET ME WRONG!

Yes, one may notice its similarity to the past six Christmas station IDs (Thank You Ang Babait Ninyo, Thank You For The Love, Isang Pamilya Tayo, Just Love, Family is Love, Family is Forever). But it’s the musician’s mastery of arrangement that made the 2020 Christmas song refreshing to listen. There’s consistency from the ABS-CBN brand of holiday music. There’s magic and emotion that everyone can feel. The words are easy to memorize, and I admit, I already memorized it for less than 6 hours. And because the beat is familiar to almost of us, one can sing the past Kapamilya Christmas songs through this new Christmas favorite.

Yes, the lyric video features the premium frontliners of ABS-CBN entertainment — its incomparable roster of performers. From music legends to future superstars to fast-rising new generation of singers, it is not really surprising to see them sing together except that they’re not singing at a studio unlike the past pre-station ID recording videos. Taping their part in the video at their respective homes is a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and this maybe a clue for everyone of the station ID. What surprises me is who stayed in ABS-CBN for this Yuletide extravaganza even if they have no current programs in the network. The presence of Bamboo and Lea Salonga gives us a possible hint of another The Voice season soon.

Let’s go to the interesting part — the lyrics. Play the video and sing:

Sa isang iglap, mga ngiti’y natakpan
Mahigpit na yakap, kailangang pakawalan.
Dumaan ang dilim, napuno ng bituin
sa Iyong lilim, pag-ibig, mas nagningning.

Hinahanap ang kahapon sa panibagong ngayon.
Marami ang nagbago ngunit ‘di ang pagmamahal Mo.

Ngayong Pasko, magdiriwang ang mundo.
Sa pag-ibig Mo’y may himala, may panibagong simula.
Ngayong Pasko, babalik ang saya
dahil Ikaw ang liwanag at ligaya.

Ikaw lang. Ikaw lang. Ikaw ang liwanag at ligaya.

Kami ay may lakas na harapin ang bukas.
Ikaw ang gabay sa bawat landas.
Gawin kaming liwanag para sa isa’t isa.
Pag-asang sumisinag sa pamilya at sa kapwa.

Ngayong Pasko, magdiriwang ang mundo.
Sa pag-ibig Mo’y may himala, may panibagong simula.
Ngayong Pasko, babalik ang saya
dahil Ikaw ang liwanag at ligaya.

Ikaw lang. Ikaw lang. Ikaw ang liwanag at ligaya.

Sa mahabang gabi, tumigil ang mundo.
Sa pag-asang dala Mo, tuloy ang Pasko.

Liwanag, ligaya!
Light, joy!
Caridad, alegria!
Kasanag, kasadya!
Lamrag, kalipay!
Sahaya, kakuyagan!
Kahayag, kalipay!
Raniag, ragsak!

Liwawa, liket!
Sigay, lilini!
Liwanag, kaogmahan!
Sulu at ing tula!

Kibou, yorokabi! (Japanese)
Illumina, gioia! (Italian)
YangGuang, XiYue! (Mandarin)
Lumiere, joie! (French)

Bit, jeulgeoum! (Korean)
Adwaa, farah! (Arabic)
‘Or’, osher! (Hebrew)
Luz, alegria! (Spanish)

Liwanag at ligaya, nagmumula sa ‘Yo,
ikakalat sa mundo!

Ngayong Pasko, magdiriwang ang mundo.
Sa pag-ibig Mo’y may himala, may panibagong simula.
(May panibagong simula!)
Ngayong Pasko, babalik ang saya
(Ibalik, ibalik, ibalik ang ligaya!)
(Ibalik ang saya!)
dahil Ikaw ang liwanag at ligaya.

Ikaw lang. Ikaw lang. Ikaw ang liwanag at ligaya!
Ikaw lang. Ikaw lang. Ikaw ang liwanag at ligaya!
Ikaw lang. Ikaw lang. Ikaw ang liwanag at ligaya!
Ikaw lang. Ikaw lang. Ikaw ang liwanag at ligaya!

I said earlier that I got to memorize the song just for hours. It’s simple but straight from the heart. And if you listen closely, “Ikaw ang Liwanag at Ligaya” is not just a typical Christmas song.

First, the song is the story of ABS-CBN this year:

Sa isang iglap, mga ngiti’y natakpan,
mahigpit na yakap, kailangang pakawalan.
(Refers to the tragic May 5 shutdown in the middle of pandemic, when ABS-CBN was an essential source of news and entertainment by people who were forced to stay at home due to ECQ.)

Dumaan ang dilim, napuno ng bituin
sa Iyong lilim, pag-ibig, mas nagningning.
(Refers to the thousands of celebrities who showed their support for ABS-CBN from street rallies outside the Broadcast Center to social media.)

Kami ay may lakas na harapin ang bukas.
Ikaw ang gabay sa bawat landas.

(Refers to their faith and confidence to stand proud despite the vilification of those who are against the franchise.)

Gawin kaming liwanag para sa isa’t isa.
Pag-asang sumisinag sa pamilya at sa kapwa.

(Refers to its mission to help each other in the middle of darkness brought by calamities and its shutdown.)

Second, the song is an interfaith prayer of hope:

Hinahanap ang kahapon sa panibagong ngayon.
Marami ang nagbago ngunit ‘di ang pagmamahal Mo.

Ngayong Pasko, magdiriwang ang mundo.
Sa pag-ibig Mo’y may himala, may panibagong simula.
Ngayong Pasko, babalik ang saya
dahil Ikaw ang liwanag at ligaya.

And third, the song is a commitment — a promise to God and to Filipino people.

Sa mahabang gabi, tumigil ang mundo.
Sa pag-asang dala Mo, tuloy ang Pasko.
(In the midst of the darkness, ABS-CBN’s faith remains and it is manifested to its celebration of Christmas this year.)

Liwanag at ligaya, nagmumula sa ‘Yo,
ikakalat sa mundo!
(With faith, even without the franchise, ABS-CBN commits to spread their mission in the service of the Filipino worldwide.)

This year’s station ID was first seen in their brand new platform called IWantTFC, the Philippines’ first all-Filipino content streaming service, a way for other people from all over the world to witness the best of Filipino entertainment. How serious is this? For the first time, this Kapamilya Christmas song translated “liwanag” at “ligaya” to different dialects and major languages. One may see it as a way of promote inclusivity, but given the struggles that ABS-CBN has faced this way, being global is the way to go. It’s our clue — ABS-CBN will no longer be a channel for Filipinos but for the world.

As of this writing, the lyric video already garnered 234 thousand views, an hour after it was shown in all ABS-CBN cable, online and digital channels, and their newest A2Z Channel 11 in partnership with Zoe Broadcasting Network. This proves enthusiasm by every Kapamilya and excitement to see the 2020 ABS-CBN Christmas Station ID on December 1.

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