Many households are probably not familiar with the name of Robert G. Labayen but what he has done as head of the Creative Communications Management (CCM) group of ABS-CBN and in the advertising world are truly memorable to generations of Filipinos.
Sir Robert is also behind many of the ABS-CBN Station IDs, the most famous of which would probably be 2009's "Star ng Pasko", a touching tribute to the Pinoy's courage, strength and resilient spirit after the devastation of Typhoon Ondoy.
It is only fitting that Sir Robert would also share his talent and patriotism in providing Choose Philippines with its official theme song, "Piliin Mo Ang Pilipinas", an anthem for every Filipino to be reminded of the treasures our island nation is rich in and a call to action for our countrymen to promote the Philippines to the world.
With the theme song set to be revealed on Aug. 28 in the musical variety show ASAP Rocks, the CCM honcho graciously shared some time from his busy schedule to provide Choose Philippines with some insight as to how he created the lyrics to our theme song.
Choose Philippines: When you were writing "Piliin Mo Ang Pilipinas", who were you addressing it to and if there was one message that you wanted to get across what would it be?
Robert G. Labayen: "I was told that Choose Philippines is primarily for Pinoy tourists. The song is for them. I know many Filipino friends who save up for trips to other countries. That's not bad. But I hope in helping to assure them that traveling to our nice country is worth their trip, too."
CP: What are the lyrics in the song that hold the most meaning for you as a Filipino? Did you intend for the words to be similar to poetry?
RGL: ""At ang bayan Niyang pinili, nasa dulo ng bahag-hari. " I like the metaphor. I don't know how that line came to me. But that's how people can describe our culture and way of life. Talagang makulay. The festivals in the regions are just so spectacular. Yes, I attempt to make my verses sound like poetry. To be very honest though, I do not know the rules of poetry.
CP: How would "Piliin Mo Ang Pilipinas" be different from the past songs you have written and what sets it apart?
RGL: This is not so different from the songs I've written before. All the songs I've written are patriotic.
CP: "As a Pinoy who travels overseas, what are the things you look forward to on the flight back home?"
RGL: "I miss the food. I've been to some places where the food are "utilitarian." Maybe they have good food in fancy restaurants but my travel budget can't afford them."
CP: Could you share your favorite: place in the Philippines; Pinoy food; Philippine event/ holiday and Filipino personality?
RGL: "Aside from my hometown, my favorite place in the Philippines is Bohol. It feels like an island undiscovered after the Spaniards left. But I haven't been to Palawan, Batanes and Sagada. Judging by the pictures, I think Batanes is the best.
My favorite food are pritong tawilis, manggang pajo, ginataang santol , ginataang tilapia ang ginisang sitaw.
My favorite event is any Pinoy Christmas in any part of the country.
My biggest Pinoy hero is Flash Elorde."
"Piliin Mo Ang Pilipinas"- it is only right that a song which is a celebration of our country's natural beauty and heritage was written by a man who is truly proud in being a Filipino and chose to share that pride to others as well.
by Elmer Neri