O Senyor Tagbalay!


The dai-gon or singing of carols is a tradition that completes Negrense Christmas celebrations.

“Singing is a language that leads to the communion of hearts, crossing every boundary,  (spreading) a message of peace and solidarity.”

-Pope Francis

It is said that St. Francis of Assisi, founder of the Franciscan Order, was the first to introduce the singing of carols during his Mass celebrations in 1223. This creative and quite radical move awakened the musical zeal of churchgoers and quickly became popular as Christianity spread in Europe and beyond.

In the Philippines, we have our Spanish colonizers to thank for this wonderful tradition. Originally called villancico, the tradition of singing Christmas carols has now become an essential part of the holidays, a way of summoning the holiday spirit so to speak. Thus, it is no surprise that we gave caroling our very own tropical flavor depending on which region we come from.  While Luzon has its panunuluyan and karoling, Western Visayas has its dai-gon.

Deck the halls and sing with us! Let the bouncy, cheerful vocals embrace us as we prepare to welcome Christ in our homes this Christmas.

In Negros, dai-gon is a highly revered Christmas tradition. Back in the day, carolers would sing songs that told the story of the nativity. They would start with "O Senyor, Tagbalay" as a way to ask permission to enter the house, mirroring the way Mary and Joseph went house to house in search for a place to stay on the eve of Christ's birth.

For this year, Negros Season of Culture tapped the multi-awarded De La Salle Chorale (DLCS) to give their own rendition of this beloved carol. According to Nini Gamilla their delightful Hiligaynon adaptation of the Cuyo dai-gon is a perfect added treat to the season's celebration.

Rousing and joyful, yet touching and heart-felt– the arrangement of renowned composer Robert Delgado has definitely captured the true Negrense spirit of the Hiligaynon carol.

"Renowned composer, Robert Delgado, highly respected and esteemed for the unparalleled quality of his choral works, has masterfully crafted this new arrangement for Mixed Choir in a cappella in ways that simply work," he shares.

"He captured a Visayan taste in this rousing and joyful arrangement, gradually moving into a fervent plea for the heart's generosity and kindness with "O Dungga."  A festive mood and lively rhythm segues to a dramatic finale that possesses all the gentleness and lushness necessary to make us all swoon."

Aside from having the opportunity to perform  a significant classic, the De La Salle Chorale members also treasure this rare artistic collaboration with Negros Season of Culture– indeed an apt exchange of gifts this holiday season!

NiNi Gamilla further notes that this a cappella version is distinct from other versions because of the remarkably bouncy vocal accompaniment figures that are fun and exciting to sing.  But aside from having the opportunity to sing such a significant classic, DLSC members, particularly the newbies, also treasure this artistic collaboration with Negros Season of Culture.

"It paved the way for opportunity to network, share resources, garner community support for DLSC and gain new ideas that are necessary for growth and development," he adds.
May this carol embrace us with the warmth of the Yuletide spirit as we look back on the year that was with gratitude.  And may our collective wish for peace and love come true wherever we are in the world! From the NSC family to yours, Malipayon nga Paskwa!

Written by: Pauline Mangilog-Saltarin
Photos By: Bem Cortez
Video By: Grilled Cheese Studios

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