Remembering Francisco Santiago, The Father of Kundiman

Originally authored on January 29, 2019

His name may go missing, but his songs are here to stay. Those nationalistic songs to remember him by.

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A composer, pianist, teacher, and film director. Born January 29, 1889 in Santa Maria, Bulacan to a musically inclined peasant parents. When he was seven years old, he took piano lessons from a private tutor and after three years further studying pianoforte under Blas Echegoyen, Faustino Villacorta, and Primo Calzada. He had to support himself throughout school. His most famous piece was “Anak Dalita” which he wrote in 1917 was sung before the Royal Court of Spain upon the request of King Alfonso II.

Santiago was named UP Emeritus of Piano in 1946 at the UP Conservatory of Music. To honor the patriotic musician, a hall in the head office of PCIB (Twin Towers) in Makati, Avenue now BDO was named after him, the Francisco Santiago Hall is exclusively used for Kundiman contest of the City of Makati as well as the awarding of Service Award of the previous Equitable PCIBank.

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His other compositions are Pilipinas Kong Mahal, Hibig ng Filipinas, Pakiusap, Madaling Araw, Dalit ng Pag-ibig, Aking Bituin, Ikaw at Ako, Leron Leron Sinta, Kumintang, and other Kundiman songs immortalized by Elsa Oria, Sylvia la Torre, Conching Rosal, and other Filipino sopranos. In 1919, the first Filipino prima donna and international diva, Jovita Fuentes sang Ay Kalisud in a concert sponsored by the Asociacion Musical de Filipinas.

He composed Sumilang na ang Manunubos, the first Philippine Christmas carol ever written for mixed chorus and symphony orchestra. Santiago wrote the music of the sarswela in 1913 Si Margaritang Mananahi written by Severino Reyes.

Francisco Santiago was posthumously given the Patnubay ng Sining at Kalinangan Award by the City of Manila in 1968.

* – credits to the owner/s for the pictures

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