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International Music Resources by Country: Philippines

International Music Resources offers an array of online and physical resources both freely available and/or offered by the George F. DeVine Music Library. The information included in these guides may serve as a starting point for the study and research of

Underground river in the Philippines

Citation (1)

Map of the Philippines

Map of Philippines

Citation (2)


Garland Encyclopedia of World Music-Philippines

Garland Encyclopedia of World Music Cover Art

Listen to Filipino Music

Bayanihan Sings Album Art

    Lullaby and Goodnight

Trane van 'n Moeder


Philippine Flag


Capital: Manila

Official Languages:  Filipino, English

Population: 112,508,991

Area: 300,000 sq km

Climate: The climate is maritime and tropical. It is generally hot and humid, except in the mountains. There is abundant rainfall, and the islands are frequently in the path of typhoons. 

Religion: Christianity (90%), Islam (5%)

Citation (2)

Traditional Music from the Philipines

Indigenous and Muslim-influenced Traditions

In the northern Philippines, indigenous music is represented by the Negrito, a very small minority mostly from Luzon, and the people of the Cordillera mountain range, a larger population. In the south, the indigenous and Muslim-influenced peoples live separately. There, the influence of Islam is discernible in many singing styles and in some flute and reedpipe music, but there is no apparent Muslim influence in the music of the gong ensemble kulintang or in terms of other musical instruments.

Among the Negrito in Bataan, marriage rituals and those for honouring the dead or curing the sick still exist. The singing style consists of a few lines of melismatic melodies sung by a leader and repeated responsorially by the crowd of men and women. 

In the northern part of Quezon province, among the Dumagat of eastern Luzon, the musical bow, a rare instrument in the Philippines, is most probably an original Negrito musical instrument and is the single instrument that is found only among the Dumagat, being unknown to other indigenous groups.  The other musical instruments played by the Dumagat have been borrowed from adjacent cultures, just as song texts contain words from their neighbours. 

Popular Music 

Filipino popular music may be traced to songs sung in the course of everyday living: work, war and drinking songs, lullabies and ballads. Western contact in 1521 brought Spanish colonization and Christianization to the islands; this produced musicians trained in the performance of Western music and resulted in new forms of music adapting Western idioms (e.g. jota, habanera and valse), which became the accompaniment to indigenous dances at town fiestas and celebrations. 

Despite the seemingly absolute reign of Western pop music, small pockets resisted the trend. Villar Records, founded in the early 1950s, recorded over 500 albums and 300 singles of kundimans, folksongs and local pop songs, including the well-known Dahil sa iyo (‘Because of you’), written by Mike Velarde, the composer Antonio Maiquez’s Sapagkat kami ay tao lamang (‘For we are only human’) and Manuel Villar’s Diyos lamang ang nakakaalam (‘Only God knows’).

Though Philippine popular musical forms are predominantly derived from or inspired by the West, in language and spirit they are now Filipino. Traditional views on undying love and a resignation to heartbreak, carry-overs from the kundiman, still prevail in local ballads as sung by figures such as Celeste Legaspi, Basil Valdes and Sharon Cuneta.

Read More about the Philippines at Grove Music Online

Citation (3)

Composer Highlight: Nicanor Abelardo

Filipino composer Nicanor Abelardo

Nicanor Abelardo


Filipino composer, conductor and teacher. As a child he had violin lessons from his father, and in 1901 he wrote his first composition, Ang unang buko (‘The First Fruit’), a waltz. He was sent to study at the Liceo de Manila and he learnt to play the piano, but at the same time he had to take various jobs to support himself and his family. In 1916 he entered the Conservatory of the University of the Philippines, and in the next year he composed a march, U. P. Beloved, which won first prize in an open competition. He studied with Victoriano Carreon (singing), José Silos (bandurria), Bonifacio Abdon (violin) and José Estella (piano); he received a teacher’s certificate at the conservatory in 1921, and in 1923 he pursued postgraduate studies there. His contribution to Philippine music lies not only in his abundant and profound output (he wrote over 150 works), but also in his work as a brilliant teacher of theory and composition. He published a number of treatises and scholarly essays.

Album art of Popular Guitar Music of the Philippines


Listen to music by Nicanor Abelardo on Naxos Online


(1): "Underground River" by "Glen Wash Ivanovic"

(2): Location, Climate, Language, Religion, Flag, Capital (The Philippines), in Europa World online. London, Routledge. University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Retrieved 22 March 2022 from

(3): Maceda, J., Santos, R., Kasilag, L., Besa, D., & Goquingco, L.  Philippines. Grove Music Online. Retrieved 23 Mar. 2022, from