If you haven’t heard the magnificent lullabye “Sa Ugoy ng Duyan,” you are probably half-American or half-Filipino!
Let’s not argue which half is American and which half is Filipino. I suggest that you go to youtube and listen to two covers by talented Filipino singers: 1) Ricel May Ann Guiman, and 2) Pete Avendano.
Ricel May Ann Guiman is a soprano accompanied on the piano by Karla Maria Dino while Pete Avendano is a tenor backed up the Filipino-American Symphony Orchestra. Here are the links:
sung by Ricel May Ann Guiman
sung by Pete Avendano
Here are the lyrics:
Sana’y di nagmaliw ang dati kong araw
Nang munti pang bata sa piling ni nanay
Nais kong maulit ang awit ni inang mahal
Awit ng pag-ibig habang ako’y nasa duyan
Sa aking pagtulog na labis ang himbing
Ang bantay ko’y tala, ang tanod ko’y bituin
Sa piling ni nanay, langit ay buhay
Puso kong may dusa sabik sa ugoy ng duyan
Nais kong matulog sa dating duyan ko, inay
There are pop renditions by various popular singers but only conservatory-style singing captures the lament of the soul and the noble spirit of the song in this obra-maestra, “Sa Ugoy ng Duyan,” by two National Artists of the Philippines, Lucio San Pedro, composer, and Levi Celerio, lyricist.
The words of the song are sung by a grown-up child who is grieving over the loss of his/her childhood innocence. It seems that the mother is gone. Physically? Emotionally? It doesn’t say.
The grown-up child longs for the peace and quiet that his/her mother’s song evokes and the deep sleep it induces while being gently rocked in a cradle. It’s the kind of sleep that caresses every cell of a child’s body and coaxes the child to grow and glow!
Indeed, the child has grown, but does not glow. Today, the grown-up child is burdened with a sorrow so enormous that he/she wants to escape back to childhood.
Has this grown-up child become a parent? What’s grieving his/her heart: “Puso kong may dusa…” Aha, it must be depression. Or cancer. Or drug addiction. Or alcoholism. Or whatever.
By the way, the English translations of the title and the lyrics which I have found so far are all awkward and clumsy. They don’t communicate the exquisite sensibility of the music and the lyrics. So please stick to the Tagalog title and lyrics. Listen to the song with your heart and let it uplift your soul.
Please remember the two outstanding gentlemen who collaborated on the music and the lyrics, Lucio San Pedro (1913-2002) and Levi Celerio (1910-2002).
In 1943, San Pedro composed the music for a song competition, but he could not find the right lyricist so he stayed out of the contest. San Pedro knew his do-re-mi, but he was not a poet.
Serendipitously, San Pedro met Celerio on a trip from Honolulu. It is said that Celerio had completed the lyrics by the time they landed in Manila. And so in 1947, “Sa Ugoy ng Duyan” was born, conceived and nurtured by two men!
President Cory Aquino proclaimed San Pedro a National Artist of the Philippines for Music on May 9, 1991. It was President Fidel V. Ramos who proclaimed Celerio as National Artist of the Philippines for Music and Literature on October 9, 1997.
Both San Pedro and Celerio passed away in 2002, but their grand composition, “Sa Ugoy ng Duyan” lives on.