Update: Last February , 2018 the City of Cebu honored the composer, Vicente Rubi for his Contribution to Music. Ludivina Rubi Najarro, his lone surviving child received the award.

Tita Luding Rubi Pleños with Ka Bino Guerrero

Kasadya Ning Takna-a (“How Joyful Is This Season”) is a classic Christmas Carol and my favorite Filipino Christmas Carol. I still remember the lyrics by heart because I used to sing this upbeat Christmas song as a little girl while caroling with my friends in Cebu.



Listen to Kasadya ni Takna-a on Spotify.

classic Filipino carol


Kasadya ning taknaa
Dapit sa kahimayaan
Mao’y atong makita
Ang panagway’ng masanglagon
Bulahan ug bulahan
Ang tagbalay nga giawitan
Awit nga halangdonon ug sa tanang Pasko

Repeat Preface
Bag-ong tuig
Bag-ong kinabuhi
Duyogan ‘ta sa atong gebati
Atong awiton aron sa kalipay
kita makaangkon!

Awit nga halangdonon ug sa tanang Pasko magmalipayon

I am sure the song is more familiar to you if sang as Ang Pasko ay Sumapit, a popular Filipino Christmas Carol and the Tagalog adaptation of the 1933 Cebuano carol. Ang Pasko ay Sumapit first hit the airwaves when I was a teenager but I was horrified to hear my favorite carol sang in a different accent and beat. It’s not the same., I cried inside. I don’t hear the rondalla introduction of the song. It sounds horrible. I thought. The heavy (maragsa) accent that added vigor and festiveness was just not there in the Tagalog version. I’m sure if you heard the Tagalog version, you would appreciate Ang Pasko ay Sumapit but I first heard it sung in Visayan!

Listen to this:

For me, Ang Pasko ay Sumapit is NOTHING compared to the joyfulness of the carol if sang in Visayan. The closest Tagalog version that follows true to the original version is the one sang by the Mabuhay Singers. Even the meaning of the lyrics are different.

But what makes the song even pathetic is the composer was paid a measly price for the Tagalog version. Here is the story of the Cebuano composer, Vicente Rubi.

A gentle Cebuano composer Vicente Rubi jotted down the notes of this daygon (carol) for a Christmas festival that year. Mariano Vestil, another Cebuano, wrote the lyrics. Forgotten Today, carolers in Cebu still sing the lilting beat and lyrics that the now-barely-remembered Rubi and Vestil blended 70 years ago. Bulahan ang tagbalay nga giawitan (“Blessed the homes that carolers sing to”). ….”It’s the supremest of ironies in a country that boasts of the longest celebration of Christmas,” Jullie Yap Daza wrote in the Times Journal in 1978. “But not a trace of effort has been made to attribute the beloved carol Ang Pasko Ay Sumapit to its author, Vicente D. Rubi.” By then, Rubi was an old impoverished widower, confined in a Cebu hospital. His carol had been hijacked by a recording company for 150 pesos.

Cebuanos recall the frail old man would shuffle to teach carolers, at his gate, how to sing his carol right. “Nong Inting” died in 1980, denied “what is due him in royalties,” now Manila Standard editor Yap-Daza wrote. This is raw exploitation. Today’s jargon calls that “Intellectual Property Rights” theft.

I heard Kasadya Ning Takna-a sang a few years ago and nearly choked in tears at the thought of Vicente Rubi never being paid royalties by that greedy recording company. Whenever I listen to Ang Pasko ay Sumapit, not only do I feel strange hearing it sung in a different tone but I feel history should give more credit to Vicente Rubi.

Bagong tuig, bagong kinabuhi, the Cebuano original, and its Tagalog adaptation, proclaim. It echoes the Advent cry of Isaiah: “Break the fetters of injustice … and break every yoke/ Then, will your light break forth as the morning.”

Where is the justice due Vicente Rubi?

Though more than 70 years have lapsed and royalties are way past the 50 year mark, I will honor Vicente Rubi in this blog for all the world to know him as the composer of Ang Pasko ay Sumapit, the Tagalog version of Kasadya Ning Takna-a.

One day, I hope a music producer will come out with the Kasadya Ning Takna-a , the original daygon version. Hopefully, this forgotten Cebuano Carol will once again claim its rightful place in Philippine music.

How joyful is this season if we remember Vicente Rubi.

What is your favorite Christmas song?

written by Toni Tiu, as originally published at , “Tita of Manila” Mode: ON!, Philippine Online Chronicles

Being a Tita has never been this “in.”

“Tita” is what you call your Mom’s sister, your Dad’s female co-workers, basically any lady who’s a generation above you. But now, Tita is more than just a title or a term of endearment. It’s a mindset, a lifestyle, one that’s not reserved only for those in their late 30s or early 40s. I recall when being a Tita made you cringe as that meant you were truly much older than most folks in the room. That’s why I was surprised seeing my 30-year-old friend brand herself “Tita” on Instagram, sharing a picture of her wine glass as she stayed home Friday night at her condo. “Tita mode. Staying in for the night,” she captioned. Being called “Tita” may still make some cringe, but because so many women are embracing being a Tita and loving Titas, the cringe can be accompanied by a little joy. 

The Twitter account “Titas of Manila” hilariously captures Tita-isms and Tita behavior.

titas of manila

@TitasofManila Jun 1

(sees pamangkin wearing makeup) Wow artista!!


@TitasofManila May 14

* lines up at French Baker in Megamall for 50% discount on bread *


@TitasofManila May 13

*sees chubby pamangkin * Ay, napabayaan ka sa kusina, no? *kurot sa tiyan*


@TitasofManila Apr 16

You know the daughter of your Tita Susan graduated cum laude and she’s working in London now tapos ang gwapo pa ng asawa na mabait pa!

This is very much the typical Filipino Tita. From blatantly asking you about your weight gain to repeatedly asking you during family reunions when you will get married, this Twitter account captures the many Tita lines that irritate nieces and nephews everywhere. But it also captures the behavior and quirks that make Titas endearing such as not being able to resist eating butong pakwan or trying to figure out how to spring clean her collection of Fit-Flops. The personification of being a Tita is so endearing and amusing at the same time.

Buzzfeed has even published an article called 20 Signs You’re the Tita of Your Group. Funny signs include “You’re way too exhausted after a day out with friends.” (accompanied by an image of a body part with Salon Pas) and “You have a bag full of things your friends might need in case of emergency.” That is SO Tita.

Embracing Tita-ness

I’m in my late 30s, but even then I don’t feel like a Tita. However, three moments in the past month made me realize I was very much a Tita.

Incident Number 1. My officemate was complaining about a really bad headache. “You want to drink medicine?,” I asked her. “Sige, you have?,” she asked. I reached into my kikay kit and pulled out a banig of headache medicine. “O there, you get as much as you want,” I advised her. In the past, this behavior would be called being a Girl Scout. Now it’s being a Tita.

Incident Number 2. Air-conditioning in the meeting room dies. It is really hot. I reach for my bag and take out my pamaypay and begin fanning myself furiously. I realized I was the only one in the room doing that and slowly put down my fan. Abaniko in my bag? So Tita. But hey, at least I didn’t have to suffer the heat in silence.

Incident Number 3. My husband and son got me a present for Mother’s Day. Upon opening the box, I saw it was a pashmina. I LOVED it. As I wrapped the beautiful red pashmina around my shoulders, I also realized that I felt very much like a Tita at that moment. (That moment also made me realize that one can’t have enough pashminas. I want one in basic black and another in navy blue, please.)

shawls-14458_640Shawls in all colors? Call your Tita! This can be her happy place!

Being a Tita has never been this “in” because of how social media has helped make Tita-isms endearing. It’s a good thing. In Filipino culture, a Tita can be our second Mom or a mentor. Titas may have their irritating moments, but for the most part they’re really just looking out for us. When they tease you about your weight gain, they sincerely want you to be more conscious about your health. When they ask about your marriage plans, they sincerely want you to fall in love and find that “forever” of yours. In or not, at the very least, you can always count on the Tita of your group to have food in her bag.

Image via benjaminivanlamiagratitudine.blogspot.com

Mom, you never taught us how to say “Po” and “Opo”, complained my two daughters. I felt guilty. Did it reflect badly on my parenting skill?

Saying “Po” and “Opo” is foreign to me. (In Filipino if some phrases or sentences ends in “po”, “opo”, “oho”, “ho” or has these words, it only means that you do have a high respect or you are very polite to the person your talking to.) I choke on the words. Not that I am rude but being raised in Cebu during my formative years, those Filipino polite words are non-existent in the Cebuano vocabulary.

I often wondered why my parents didn’t teach us either. They spoke in Tagalog. I guess it was because we lived in Cebu and they didn’t want to confuse us with the dialect.

As much as I’d like to attribute every aspect of our submissive nature to the Spaniards, the word “po” ” actually traces way back to our Pre-Hispanic roots. It comes from the Malay word “Pupo”, a sort of verbal equivalent of the Thai greeting and sign of respect that involves joining one’s open palms together. Words, signs, and gestures of respect towards elders and superiors are in fact quite common in Asia; from the Japanese, to the Koreans, to the Vietnamese.” I asked one of my friends who is used to saying “po” and she said that  “growing up, the word “po” was never drilled into my head. It was almost as if I learned it through osmosis, like it was just a fact of life, along the lines of hamog or binat. I belonged to a different generation, of course; a generation that still played outdoors every afternoon, back when habulang base, patintero, and piko actually existed in real life and not just in textbooks.”

I remember a conversation between my aunt and dad. My aunt chastised my dad that we were impolite children just because we didn’t address her with a “po” and “opo”. I would have agreed with her but we spoke to her in English and it didn’t seem right to end each sentence with “po” and “opo”. At that time, I wasn’t too fluent in Tagalog (still not fluent but getting there) so how can I labeled rude or impolite?

Not saying “po” or “opo” does not hold value to me. I just wasn’t used to saying it. During my twenties, I tried to get into the habit of saying “po” and “opo” since I already lived in Manila and guess what? I ended up saying “po” and “opo” to the guards, the vendors, my peers, and just about anyone. I embarrassed myself even more.

It’s great that a majority of Filipinos still have words like “po” and “opo.” They’re unique, charming, and truly Filipino. But let’s save them for our mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, and grandparents; people who deserve our respect just by virtue of their existence. Because whenever we over-use these words, we’re only giving other people reason to disrespect us.

Most Filipinos may say “po” or “opo” but are they polite or courteous in the MRT?  The ““me first” mentality I see in queues drive me nuts. And don’t start me on the mad driving skills on Manila’s snarled highways.

A pet peeve of mine  is being called “Ma’am”. The first time someone addressed me as “Ma’am” was from a news reporter over nine years ago. Hearing “Ma’am” shocked me mainly because it meant I am OLD. I often cringe when I am being addressed as “Ma’am”. When I became a blogger and met new bloggers, I often requested them to just call me “Noemi”. A few bloggers still call me “Ma’am” which I don’t bother to correct sometimes because I also understand that maybe they are not comfortable calling me by my first name. I understand that our parents often teach us to respect our elders.

But really, why do I need to be called “Ma’am, Madam, Miss Noemi”?

In a reddit discussion, yeh-nah-yeh says “Australian culture values egalitarianism, that is every being equal. An average taxi driver would address the Prime Minister by first name or “mate”. It often results in better outcomes as ideas are judged for their quality not for the seniority of the person proposing them and junior people are free to question and criticise the work of older people leading to improvements.” That’s what I mean. In the internet, people should argue and discuss amiably without the nagging thought that this person has an honorific title.

noemidado small

Sylvia Claudio has a take on the penchant for titles:

The penchant for titles besets other cultures, but Filipinos take it to the extreme. At a recent international conference a Filipino participant put the title “Atty.” before his name. This prompted a Malaysian participant to ask me what that meant. My reply that this was an abbreviation for “Attorney” resulted in a long side explanation – much to the detriment to our appreciation of the attorney’s presentation. Later, my foreign colleagues were even more befuddled by a recitation of titles like “Engr.” (for engineer), and “Arch.” (for architect).

Though we should be proud of our professional attainment, titles do not happen in other countries. There is no “Atty” appended before a lawyer’s name in the United States. Claudio addes that “We are also a society where an atty., an arch., and an engr. may be the first person to have finished college in their entire family and tribe.” Pinoy culture, just like in most of Asia, value hierarchy and seniority.

title fetish

I agree with Claudio that “Our title fetish is indicative of the social inequality and resulting patronage that plague Philippine society. In a just society, it would not be difficult for anyone to become a lawyer, an architect, an engineer, a geologist, a ballerina, a soprano, social worker, and whatever else they should desire.”

As University of the Philippines professor Tet Maceda observes, senior professors and administrators were addressed by their first names. “Despite our increasing seniority we have not taken to calling ourselves “Ma’am.” There are, after all, many Filipinos who reject these titles. Maceda fondly remembers being answered on the phone with “Emer here” and not “President Emerlinda Roman here.”

Claudio adds that there is a proper use for titles such as President Aquino is called “Mr. President” . She adds that in a democracy, such honorifics should be reserved for the highest government positions.


It is one reason I use the monicker “momblogger” because it is a nickname that anyone can call me. I always believed in using my first name in social media accounts but almost everyone would call me “ma’am” . In 2007, I created my internet name as “momblogger” (well I am a mom plus a blogger) for people to address me in case they felt awkward calling me “Noemi” . How would I have known that it would also be my “personal brand” today?

Now that you know my pet peeve… just call me plain old …Noemi. Or if that bothers you, call me momblogger.


The Holy Week holds a special meaning in my heart as it’s during this time that my precious son talked about eternal life. How would I have known that he was preparing himself for his death?

When I die, I will be alive again“,
Luijoe (with excitement), a month before he became an angel.

A month or so before Luijoe went to heaven, he asked me questions about angels, death, heaven and graves. I don’t exactly remember when Luijoe started to ask me those things.


This is what I wrote two weeks after Luijoe died.

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(This is a post I originally wrote in 2008. )
me and daughters1

When my two girls were in grade school, I’d often hang out with the mommies at the waiting shed, eagerly waiting for our daughters’ class dismissal. We called each other “classmates”. Starting from nursery till sixth grade, I had my gang of mothers. In one of our idle talks, we compared child rearing practices. One of these was handling our daughter’s suitors and request for parties once they reached high school. The topic was met with dread and fear of our daughters mixing with the wrong crowd or better yet, having a boyfriend at so young an age. I formulated my own set of ideas which proved to be a learning experience.

This is not a definitive guide for Filipina mothers since we each impose our own peculiar guidelines for our daughters but maybe you can pick up a tip or two. For the guys, it is a preview of the twisted mind of a typical mom and her feelings towards their daughters’ suitors. With Lauren’s permission to illustrate examples, here are my own guidelines.

1. Just because she is your daughter doesn’t mean she is like you.

I had this notion that my daughters shouldn’t have a boyfriend while in high school, the same way my parents brought me up. I made my rules clear : No dating till 18 years old but you can entertain phone calls, visitors and attend parties.

I thought I was a liberal mother. I mean, look, I still gave freedom for my daughters to mix with guy friends and hang out with them. But then, I learned something much later on. There are two types of teen girls. There is the ligawin, the feminine, charming, smart girl and the suplada, the girl (like me) who likes guys but do not appear charming to them.

One of my girls fell into the ligawin category.

When my twelve year old girl started receiving phone calls from guys, her dad warned me that she might be like his sister who had a boyfriend in high school. I brushed Butch fears away.

No, she won’t have a boyfriend because like me, I didn’t need to have a boyfriend in high school.

There was a NO BOYFRIEND rule imposed and the girls knew that. I thought it was clear.

Until one afternoon…I received a phone call if I could “supervise” the times my daughter and her son were together in either of our homes. I raised hell there and then and started yelling at my daughter to come to the phone. Oh yes, I screamed, to put it mildly. Being a control-freak mother at that time ““NO OFFENSE ON YOUR SON, BUT MY GIRL CAN’T HAVE A BOYFRIEND.” My voice sounded a notch higher than usual.

I started rattling off that my husband would raise hell if he found out she had a boyfriend. I never told Butch that her daughter had a boyfriend. She was only 15. Livid with anger, she was grounded the whole summer.

2. Never set rules in stone. Be flexible.

When I look back at this incident, my anger was not because Lauren had a boyfriend. I was mad that she betrayed my trust. In my anger, I refused to be flexible. Maybe, I should have agreed to the “supervision”. Did it destroy my relationship with her? I guess it did. I felt that it strained our mother-daughter relationship for a long time. I should have sat down with her and set the boundaries of a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship.

Looking back, I don’t have regrets. The boyfriend was a delinquent who kept flunking his classes in high school. The parents eventually sent him to the states. I believe it would not have worked out in the end because my girl was serious with her studies. I met the ex-boyfriend in my home a few years ago. Well, he looked a bit weird with his mohawk hair but I found out he has yet to take up some college education. Go figure.

3. Don’t be too chummy-chum-chum with the suitor or boyfriend.

Mommies tend to empathize with the rejected suitor or the dumped boyfriend. Often, the mommies feel the guy’s pain of rejection. The mom feels bad especially if she believes that this particular guy is very suitable for their daughter. But the daughter doesn’t think the guy is for her. Yes, I was like that too. kawawa naman siya. Kausapin mo!. (what a pity. You should talk to the guy)

I know of a mother who talked to the suitor all afternoon because she took pity on the guy when her daughter refused to see the suitor. In fact, this mom dragged second daughter to talk to the rejected suitor. Funny thing is the second daughter and rejected suitor became a couple. When my daughter dumped a suitor (who often talked to me via instant messenger) in favor of another guy, I was flabbergasted. I uttered the same line too. I felt sad for the dumped suitor.

And my daughter coldly replied eh, why don’t you talk and comfort him?.

4. Trust your instincts. Give your opinion on the guy and let it go.

Okay I was disappointed with her college boyfriend who dropped out of school. I also felt that my daughter was second choice after the guy got dumped by her friend. Still a control-freak mother, I confronted her and minced no words about my honest opinion of the guy. I have my reasons but I’d rather not mention it here. Mothers have instincts , you see. The problem with me was that my approach was old-school, manipulative and controlling. Now I know better. I should have just said my piece then let it go and allow her to make mistakes. But no, I told her she couldn’t see this guy. PERIOD.

That did not prevent them from being together despite my objections. Inspite of my stringent rules, I have to give her credit for not eloping with her boyfriend (a friend’s daughter did just that and had a baby soon after.)

5. Get to know the potential boyfriend material. Do some research.

When my daughters confide their crush, I often ask for a photo just to see how they look like. Often I’d agree and nod “Oy, he is cute.” One day, my girl showed me a friendster url of her crush. Sure the guy was a looker. But what did I see? Oh my…photo after photo, her crush was wrapped around with a different girl. I asked “you want to be another collection?”

If you’re tech savvy, you know there is that nifty search engine at the click of the mouse. The suitor might have a blog too, you know! A word of caution though. Don’t judge the guy based on the blog content alone. Entries may contain sarcasm, embellishment or prone to misinterpretation. But as I mentioned in number 4, say your piece, then let it go. Nagging is not going to stop your daughter from liking a guy.

6. Give basic sex education.

I don’t mean, encourage sex. In fact, I remind them that abstinence is a healthy practice to follow. But things happen. A friend told me that she wished she had given sex education to her 18 year old daughter. Her daughter’s first sexual experience led to pregnancy only because she thought she’d never get pregnant.

So I often say, ““Don’t even believe your boyfriend when he says he has protection”“. Then I add just one tiny drop contains millions of sperm to impregnate you. It takes only 1 sperm cell!. It’s not a comfortable discussion, mind you. My daughters cringe with awkwardness every time I babble on sex education. I’d rather see them cringe during my lecture than see them cringe in pain with an unplanned pregnancy.

7. Express the ideal qualities of a guy.

Eventually, I allowed my daughter to continue the relationship with the guy (in number 4) after I discovered they were still together after a year. I believed it would not last long anyway. Secretly, I was hoping she’d see my reasons eventually. I often dropped hints on the qualities of the guy that would suit my daughters. I don’t really know if they listen to me. Moms know a lot more about their daughter more than they even know themselves. We just hope it sinks in. In the end, it’s their life. It’s their choice. Mothers can only guide.

Funny thing was my daughter ended the relationship with this guy two years later, for the reason that I objected to in the first place. I allowed her to make mistakes. I could have said ““I told you so” after my instincts proved right.

My daughter often tells me that I am a cool mom now that I am more laid back. I had to pass through being an uncool mom to be a cool mom.

Any guidelines I might have missed?

““The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, they must be felt with the heart.” I agree with Helen Keller.

Nothing prepared me for the the beauty of Palawan seascapes, its breathtaking sunsets, the beautiful people and the miracle of the Golden South Sea Pearl. The beauty captivated me so much I felt dazed. Now that I look back at it, I wished time slowed down for me to take it all in.

Photo by Jayvee Fernandez

This amazing adventure started with an invitation from Jewelmer through Yehey, their digital marketing. As I leafed through the invite I noted the ““passion for life” at the top and to join them in becoming a catalyst of change. That sounds like me. I am passionate about meaningful things in life. The invite to visit Palawan is heaven-sent. I have always wanted to visit the Philippines last frontier. The stories of travel bloggers inspired me to make Palawan a must-experience travel destination . I wanted to witness how the lustrous golden Philippine South Sea Pearl is cultivated. Lastly, I wanted to observe the livelihood projects of the ““Save Palawan Seas Foundation”, that are both sustainable as well as environmentally sound. I was terribly excited. Jayvee, Anna and I are the first set of bloggers to join this Pearl Farm tour, a first for bloggers in the history of Jewelmer.

There is so much to write about this trip that it needs to be shown in three parts: the travelogue, the beauty of the golden South Sea Pearl and the people of Palawan and the livelihood projects of their foundation.
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““If the people we love are stolen from us, the way to have them live on is to never stop loving them. Buildings burn, people die, but real love is forever.”

cory aquino

Cory would have turned 77 years old today. In a speech that Noynoy Aquino delivered at her birthday mass, he said

Perhaps if we try to keep her spirit alive in our own daily struggles, we would realize that she did not really just leave us. She is in our dreams of having a government that works, that makes justice and a decent life accessible to every citizen. She is an inspiration on so many levels.

For those who have lost loved ones, their lives continue to live on in our hearts, in our memories, through our work and advocacy. This blog is a testament to my love for my son, to my father, my mom and two brothers who have gone before my dad. By being of service, I keep their memories alive.

I looked up to Cory Aquino for having the courage to fight a dictator and restore a democracy. I am forever grateful for that.

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“Doesn’t every woman deserve the right to have a safe pregnancy and a baby that’s born healthy? I believe this is a very basic human right.” Katya Matanovic

They say that it takes just one or two entries to bring hits to your blog. Three years ago, I wrote about Sex Education in the Philippines and to this day, I continue to receive search engine hits not from the keyword “sex education” but from the image keyword “sex”. I often wonder if Google had something to do with it, that they wanted people to read my entry first before jumping on to porn sites.

sex education

My stand on sex education is

We need to teach them responsible parenthood in consonance with the sex education. We don’t need to teach everything but at least give them the basic facts. Along the way, the children can do some more research on their own.

Three years ago, Phillipine Catholic Bishops Oppose Sex-Ed in Schools, Say it Should be Left to Parents. Sure that is true only if parents know how to discuss sex with their children. We can’t assume parents know how to discuss sex openly. Some might be uneducated to understand the anatomy of reproduction and thus fail to grasp natural birth control methods.

The schools together with the parents can bridge the gap of sex education but there seems to be a problem when the parents also have a lack of knowledge on reproductive health.

With the yet to be approved Philippine Reproductive Health Bill 5043 , one of the provisions of the proposed law is mandatory imposition of reproductive health education

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