In Night of Many Firsts, Mid-Year ASOP Music Festival of 2013 Makes History

Walang Hanggang Kitang Sasambahin (Forever, I Will Worship You) was not only chosen as the Song of the Mid-Year 2013 in the recent ASOP Festival, but also one that Bro. Daniel Razon will record in the coming months.
The Song of the Mid-Year in the recent ASOP Festival, Walang Hanggang Kitang Sasambahin (Forever, I Will Worship You) will be recorded by Bro. Daniel Razon in the coming months, a first in the Music Festival’s history.

The songwriting music festival of the Members Church of God International (MCGI) for the mid-year of 2013 became a venue of well-received firsts and great praise music for the glory of God on the eve of July 8, 2013 in Apalit, Pampanga.

With “Walang Hanggan Kitang Sasambahin” bagging the Grand Prize, together with the other three top prizes of the 2013 Mid-Year A Song of Praise Music Festival, Asia-Oceania’s record-breaking streak was the first time for one region in ASOP’s timeline to sweep all major prizes.

For Sis Sally Morgan, a prize better than the cash reward and the trophy came the moment her grand prize-winning song was sung by Bro. Daniel Razon together with its interpreter during the finals, Sis May Checa. It was another first that an ASOP-winning song was performed by the Vice-Presiding Minister to MCGI.

Bro. Eli requested Bro. Daniel to assist in re-arranging the prize-winning piece to achieve better musicality and lyrics quality.

Other winners from the same region include Sis. Anamarie Natividad’s 1st runner-up placer, “Your Servant’s Prayer” that was interpreted by Sis Marianne Liwanag; and Bro. Jun Sarmiento’s 2nd runner-up placer, “Alipin Mong Walang Kabuluhan” that was interpreted by Sis. Aileen De Matos. Bro. Antonio Gan’s “Lahat ng Dahilan”, interpreted by Bro. Jonathan Dumanais won the 3rd Runner-up award.

The musical competition has MCGI leaders, Bro. Eliseo Soriano and Bro. Daniel Razon as regular judges. Criteria for judging the song finalists are musical content, lyrics, and over-all impact.

The next edition of ASOP in December will have a screening panel, which for the first time will subject finalist compositions to undergo massive and thorough evaluation and improvement to meet quality song standards. The aim is to make sure that musicians and lyricists get all the aid necessary to create well-crafted songs of praise.

“Dapat may panel na nag-screen ng kanta at nag-iimprove ng mga kanta.” (There must be a panel who would screen the songs and make improvements on the songs.) This, the televangelist said, should be convened immediately so there would be lesser edits during the finals night.

Throughout the competition, Bro. Eli made on-the-spot editing of the song lyrics after the performance of the entry. The MCGI Leader then called on the need for a screening panel.

Bro. Daniel, a songwriter himself, emphasized the importance of the “right marriage of a song.” Also known as Kuya Daniel for his broadcasting stints, he also furthered that the melody should fit the lyrics, and that the “musicality should be polished.”

Out of the fifteen mid-year finalists for 2013, participants from the Asia-Oceania, Europe-Israel-Africa and South America divisions composed nine entries. The remaining entries came from the Philippines’ Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao and NCR regions.

Mindanao Region’s entry entitled “We’ll be Home” was given a Special Award while the night’s Best Interpreters were Singapore’s Sis Marianne Liwanag for the song “Your Servant’s Prayer” and Pampanga’s Sis. Dalisay Painaga for the song “Ikaw ang Tangi Kong Buhay”.

The 2013 Mid-Year A Song of Praise Musical Festival was held immediately following the Church’s International Thanksgiving to God celebration on July 5 to 7 this year.

(Written by Rona Valdez)

(Photo by Rovic Balunsay)

Mid-Year 2013 ASOP to Showcase 15 New Crops of Original Songs of Praise

ASOP Music Festival's co-progenitor, Bro. Daniel Razon, holding the results of the Mid-Year Festival last year. MCGI's songwriting event was launched in 2004.
Bro. Daniel Razon, ASOP Music Festival’s co-progenitor, holding the results of the Mid-Year Festival last year. MCGI’s songwriting event was launched in 2004.

The A Song of Praise (ASOP) Music Festival, a much-awaited musical event of the year by the Members Church of God International (MCGI), will hold its Mid-Year Finals Night on July 8 this year, immediately following the three-day International Thanksgiving to God.  

A total of 15 songs of praise locally and internationally will be presented in this twice-a-year praise songwriting festival at 7 p.m. of Monday (Philippine time) in Apalit, Pampanga.

ASOP organizer Sis. Girlie Arce said that 15 fresh and sublime songs pass thorough their stringent screening process. These finalists were subjected to series of elimination rounds in their respective district, region and division levels. 

Selected songs for the mid-year finals night took another round of final revisions under the supervision of the Katulong ng Pangangasiwa and Tagapangasiwang Pampook in their respective divisions and with the assistance of division musicians.

Majority of the praise songs included in this edition of ASOP emerged from outside the Philippines. Four entries namely “Aliping Walang Kabuluhan”, “Your Servant’s Prayer”, “Lahat ng Dahilan”, and “Walang Hanggan Kitang Sasambahin” are from the Asia-Oceania Division.

“To His Highest Majesty” and “I Live for You”, comes from the Europe Division while North America’s “Now I Can Worship You” and South America’s “Aliping Walang Kabuluhan” and “You’re My Everything” round up the foreign entries.

Finalists from the Philippine are led by Luzon’s “Salamat sa Pagkakataong Umiral” and “Alay sa ‘Yo”. Visayas are represented by “Salamat Ama sa Pagtawag” and “Ang Awit Alay Sa ‘Yo” while Mindanao has one song finalist, “We’ll be Home”, and NCR also has one, “Tungkuling Pinahiram”. 

Sis. Arce quoted Bro. Eliseo Soriano for the preacher’s advice derived from the previous edition of the music festival for the new crop of hopeful composers about joining ASOP.  “Several preparations should be done before writing a praise song. A masterpiece cannot be done overnight,” said Bro. Eli. “Prayers, fasting, self-preparations are needed. Above all, always seek God’s help to produce the best songs.”

Bro. Eli, Presiding Minister to MCGI, together with Bro. Daniel Razon, Vice-Presiding Minister, are two regular judges of ASOP Music Festival.

ASOP is a bi-annual songwriting event which debuted in 2004. It is the MCGI Leaders who spearheaded this songwriting competition that aims to produce original praise songs for our Creator.

(Written by: Jojie-Ann Alabarca)

(Photo by: Rovic Balunsay)

International Music Summit: 13th in 2013

With new songs of praise, chorale groups Church-wide presented their song and dance numbers during the 13th Annual International Music Summit.
Chorale groups comprised of youths Church-wide presented their new songs of praise at the ADD Convention Center during the 13th Annual International Music Summit or IMS.

The Music Summit that Members Church of God International (MCGI) leaders, Bro. Eli Soriano and Bro. Daniel Razon started in August 2001 has reached its 13th year last May 26, 2013.

Hundreds of youth choirs congregated at the ADD Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga and key locale chapters across the archipelago and abroad to participate in this once-a-year musical festival and learning experience.

Choral groups from Visayas and Mindanao joined via live video streaming and MCGI’s satellite facilities. Participants outside the Philippines included countries from Brunei and South Korea in Asia; to Perth and Brisbane in Australia; to New York and Vancouver in North America; and London in the UK.

Through previously recorded videos from the Church leaders, the youth choirs also had the opportunity to listen to advice as to how can they perform their duties according to the will of God. “Singing is one of the few things that we can do for God… Do it with sincerity,” remarked Bro. Eli through a recorded video message.

Bro. Daniel, on his part, gave his advice to the participants on performing their duties according to the will of God. He said a biblical checklist should be followed so that the ministry’s endeavour of singing songs of praises will always be fruitful.

Bro. Razon used pnemonics to help remember the following virtues written in 2 Peter 1:5-8: faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity.

First called as the “National Music Summit,” the event’s name changed to fit the growing number of youth choirs Church-wide, especially those abroad over the years.

The much-enjoyed group dynamics wherein the participants were divided into twelve groups served as the event’s ice breaker. This portion was composed of cheering, speech choir, quartet and dancing presentations and a final production number of each group’s interpretation of Kaibigan (Friend), a song penned by Bro. Daniel, the Vice-Presiding Minister to MCGI.

“I have learned a lot from the activities in the group dynamics. I have all the more realized the significance of unity and cooperation and the importance of looking for each member’s welfare,” said Bro. Roger Salvaleon, conductor of the Metro Manila Division Choir. “It is my twelfth IMS this year and so far, I can say that this is the best,” he added.

Annual Themed Song Festival

This undertaking is also a venue where members of the Music Ministry from different divisions present their own compositions that revolve around a theme set by the organizers.

This year, the songs composed are about God-given duties. Bulacan Division’s entry emerged as the Best Song while the Metro Manila  Division Choir grabbed the title of Best in Interpretation.

In the Foreign Ministry, the Middle East Division’s entry was named the Best Song while the Best Video Presentation award went to the Division of Asia Oceania.

Special awards were also given to participating divisions: Central Division, the Most Disciplined; Bicol, Best Sopranos; North 2, Best Altos; Bataan Zambales, Best Tenors; Quezon-Marinduque, Best Basses; Cavite, Best in Harmony; Rizal, Best Choral Arrangement; Pampanga, 1st Runner-up in Song Interpretation; and Laguna-Batangas-Mindoro-Romblon, 1st Runner-up in Song Composition.

Also included in the program were the graduation rites of MCGI’s Orchestra trainees, special numbers from the Bible Readers (BREAD) Choir, National Choir and Music Ministry Core, and lectures about technical know-how to help participants in improving their crafts.

Aside from this annual event, the Music Ministry leads members in congregational singing during every Church gathering, and conducts 24/7 singing duties.

They also organize and support the biannual songwriting festival dedicated to praise songs, the A Song of Praise Music Festival (ASOP). This Church-exclusive event became open to non-members through a program aired weekly on UNTV after the same name.

(Written by Emmy Borromeo) (Photography by Jerson Ona)

East Coast USA and Canada Hold Music Summit 2013

Queens, New York – A great many songs of praises were sang and danced in the recently-concluded Music Summit of East Coast USA and Canada on April 20 to 21 this year, showcasing the God-given talents of the Music Ministry members. The two-day event was also packed with activities geared to further cultivate their gifts in music.

Locale Choir members and Teatro Kristiano or the Church’s Dance Ministry members traveled from San Diego, Texas, Chicago, New Jersey, Maryland, and Montreal, Canada to New York in order to take part in the Summit. Participants journeyed as far as 2,800 miles by plane and 18 hours by land to join the musical event.

Homegrown talents of the Locale of New York take their turn on stage for their song-and-dance presentation.
New York’s Locale Choir and Teatro Kristiano take to the stage as they present their lively song of praise entry in the festival.

Tagapangasiwang Pampook assigned in the East Coast USA and Canada Division, Bro. Marvin Go opened the first day of the Music Summit with a brief yet hearty talk via live stream. Bro. Josel Mallari, the Minister-in-Charge in the same Division, immediately followed to render a welcoming speech before the participants. In an empowering speech, Bro. Josel talked about the value of Music Ministry.

“In all the things that we do in our services, what is for God is our praising Him with songs and dances,” remarked Bro. Josel, then adding, “It is a commandment to sing praises.

“The talents you are given are different. You are all given singing voices to use in praising God. That is our blessing,” Bro. Josel stressed.

A Church minister gives a few inspirational remarks to the participants of the two-day musical event.
Katulong ng Pangangasiwa Bro. Josel Mallari gives a short inspirational talk to the brethren during day one of the Music Summit held from April 20-21, 2013.

The Music Summit officially started at 7:00 p.m. EST on April 20. On the first day of the competition, locale choir members sang their prepared Tanging Awit presentations and a Church Hymn that was chosen on the spot by the panel of judges.

Meanwhile, the Teatro Kristiano from various states also showed their talent in acting and dancing during the choir’s common piece number.

The guest speakers during the second day were Bro. Bong Rueda and Bro. Perry Cuaresma, senior members of the Music Ministry Core. Through live stream, Bro. Bong and Bro. Perry entertained questions from the participants regarding their performance of duties in the Music Ministry and Teatro Kristiano.

The Locale Choir of Chicago traveled for 18 hours to participate in the Music Summit and present their prepared song of praise on stage.
The Locale Choir of Chicago traveled for 18 hours to participate in the Music Summit and present their prepared song of praise on stage.

Bro. John Paul Cruz, one of the judges in the Summit, also gave a short lecture in reading musical notes and music appreciation.

The over-all champions for the Music Summit were the locales of Montreal (3rd place), New York (2nd place), and Toronto (1st Place). Participants from Toronto, Canada made use of technology to stream their presentations online from their hometown.

(Words and photos by Pauline Arellano)

Bro. Eli Soriano Lauds New Praise Songs

Apalit, Pampanga — The A Song of Praise Music Festival Finals Night last July 13, 2010 gathered once more the composers, lyricists, and song interpreters of Members Church of God International for a night of divinely inspired Christian music.

There were 18 entries that came from Europe, Latin America, Middle East, and Asia with Church Leaders lauding the recent crop of songs as an improvement from all those entered in the past.

This edition of ASOP, which stands for A Song of Praise Music Festival, scores the most number of honors given to finalists than anytime in its history. Total cash prizes amounted to PhP535,000 (US$11,630).

The Song of the Mid-Year came from Quezon-Marinduque, Philippines, which was interpreted by Sis. Geraldine Moje, who was also a runner-up in the Best Interpreter award. The four first runners-up included entries from Bulacan, NorthEastern Mindanao, Singapore, and Hongkong.

Bro Daniel Razon gives the closing remark during the finals night of the A Song of Praise Music Festival at the ADD Convention Center.
Bro Daniel Razon gives the closing remark during the finals night of the A Song of Praise Music Festival at the ADD Convention Center.

Meanwhile, the National Capital Region and South America bagged the second and third runner-up awards, respectively.

Interpreters for the entries from the National Capital Region and South America, namely Bros. Ronald Calpis, Bro. Anton Estrella Jr., and Sis. Yuan Rabago tied for the Best Interpreter award.

MCGI Presiding Minister Bro. Eli Soriano challenged the future participants to the contest to devote more time to compose songs that are more convincing and evoking to the soul. He also reminded the attendees to “work further [in creating songs] because it is God who inspires us. We must not rely on our abilities.”

Bro. Eli Soriano encouraged future participants to create more songs of praises.
Bro. Eli Soriano encouraged future participants to create more songs of praises.

Bro. Eli said he appreciated and is well-pleased with the efforts of the contestants to come up with songs that praise God.

Bro. Eli and Bro. Daniel Razon gave their remarks and impressions of the songs interpreted that night. Their observations served as pointers and learning hints which both participants and the audience listened to with great interest.

Bro. Daniel advised, “Kneel, fast, and call upon God whenever you are working on a song. With God’s help, we are now seeing a level-up of the quality of our work. But then, let us continue to strive for better results in the future festivals to come.”

ASOP finalists performed their closing song-and-dance presentation to cap the finals night.
ASOP finalists performed their closing song-and-dance presentation to cap the finals night.

The next A Song of Praise Music Festival comes around December.

(Written by: Cecile Vizcaya)