Twelve New Praise Songs Celebrated at ASOP TV’s 2nd Grand Finals Night

Thousands of A Song of Praise enthusiasts filled to the brim the Smart-Araneta Coliseum on September 9 for the ASOP Grand Finals Night 2013.
The Big Dome or Smart-Araneta Coliseum, considered as one of the largest multi-purpose coliseums in Asia, was filled to the brim by thousands of observers enthusiastic to witness the A Song of Praise Music Festival Grand Finals Night.
(Photo: Gaye Fritz Ofilas/Photoville Intl.)

A big crowd come together for the A Song of Praise (ASOP) TV Music Festival Year 2 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum on September 9, putting behind differences in faith to celebrate songs of praise dedicated to God.

Through live streaming, Bro. Eli Soriano explains before the crowd the history and aim of ASOP TV, which is a counterpart of the songwriting competition with the same title, albeit an exclusive affair inside the Members Church of God International (MCGI) since 2004.

Bro. Eli Soriano, Presiding Minister to MCGI, recalls how he and Bro Daniel Razon, the Vice-Presiding Minister, started ASOP initially inside MCGI as a way of encouraging amateur and professional composers and lyricists to create songs of praise to God.

“God is well-pleased tonight because despite our differences in faith, we came together for an occasion that celebrates songs of praises dedicated to Him,” shares Bro. Soriano. Twelve new compositions of diverse genres were presented this year.

ASOP hosts Richard Reynoso and Toni Rose Gayda with the interpreters grace the stage for the evening’s opening number: Enrich the Spirit!
Enrich the spirit inspired by music! The interpreters and hosts Richard Reynoso and Toni Rose Gayda grace the stage for the evening’s opening number. (Photo: Rovic Balunsay/Photoville Intl.)

It was in 2011 when ASOP TV was launched and aired by UNTV, but it was already regarded as the first major show of its kind, the grandest, and the most generous in giving prizes.

Bro. Eli says that another factor that sets ASOP TV apart from other songwriting contest is the prizes. By giving away bigger prizes, more people will be encouraged to join the contest while the winning composers will then be motivated to focus in composing more praise songs.

The song “Ikaw” penned by Boy Chirstopher Ramos Jr. emerged as the “Song of the Year” while its performer, Pop Pinoy Superstar champion Jonalyn Viray was hailed as the Best Interpreter. Ramos received P500,000 while Viray took home P50,000.

The list of runners up include “I am Grateful”, “Lagi Kang Nariyan”, and “You’ll See Miracles” composed by RJ Jimenez, Christian Obar, and Paul Hildawa, respectively.

"Ikaw" (You), the ASOP 2013 Grand Champion, was penned by Boy Christopher Ramos Jr. and interpreted by Jonalyn Viray.
“Ikaw” (You) crafted by Boy Christopher Ramos Jr. and interpreted by Jonalyn Viray won the Song of the Year title in the ASOP Grand Finals Night at the Big Dome on September 9, 2013.

Comedian and TV host Joey De Leon served as one of the board of judges together with Mon del Rosario, a well-known hitmaker and ASOP TV’s resident judge; Annabelle Regalado-Borja, E-TALent Management and Entertainment’s CEO; and Kathleen Dy-Go, Universal Records’ General Manager.

Audie Gemora, an accomplished stage actor and director; Snaffu Rigor, a highly acclaimed composer and singer; and Raul Sunico, the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ incumbent President, complete the board.

Finalists and judges praise Bro. Eli and Kuya Daniel for innovating a show that can make people thankful and bring them closer to God through music.

(Words by Emmy Borromeo)

Luzon Region Enters Two Songs as Finalists to ASOP Mid-Year Finals 2013

At the ADD Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga, winners take pose after the awarding ceremony of the ASOP Luzon Region Finals on June 9, 2013.
Winners pose for photos after the awarding ceremony of the ASOP Luzon Region Finals last June 9, 2013.

Pampanga Division and North 1 Division bested eight other entries from Luzon Region and officialy entered the finalists slate for the upcoming A Song of Praise (ASOP) Mid-Year Festival come July 8, 2013.

“Alay Sa’yo,” (For You), Pampanga’s song entry, was composed and interpreted by Sis. Dalisay Painaga. Meanwhile, “Salamat sa Pagkakataong Umiral” (Thanks for the Opportunity to Exist) from the North 1 Division was written by Bro. Ronald Morales.

Luzon Region held its ASOP finals last June 9, 2013.

The ASOP Music Festival is a bi-annual songwriting event of the Members Church of God International (MCGI). Church Leaders Bro. Eli Soriano and Bro. Daniel Razon started the songwriting fest in 2004 with the vision to hear the best “Church-grown” songs of praise for the Lord.

Regional finals are being held all across the globe to hear and pick song entries for the mid-year and year-end finals of the ASOP Songwriting Festival. Ministry helpers serve as judges during such elimination rounds.

The Mid-Year finals will happen right after the International Thanksgiving of the whole Church from July 5-7, 2013.

(Written by: Yanna Faye Ferrera)

(Photo by: Kenji Hasegawa)

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)

25 Praise Songs to Join ASOP Asia-Oceania Division Finals in Australia

Participants at the Locale of Singapore presented their new songs of praise in the District 3 ASOP Eliminations night on April 28, 2013.
Participants at the Locale of Singapore presented their new songs of praise in the District 3 ASOP Eliminations night on April 28, 2013.

The A Song of Praise (ASOP) Finals of the Asia-Oceania Division will hear 25 new songs of praise come August this year, the most number of entries in its history yet. Australia will be the host country for the music festival.

The song entries are fruits of the recently concluded District Eliminations in Perth, Australia on April 25th, in Singapore on April 28th, and in Hongkong on May 1st this year. 

Representatives from Brunei, Papua New Guinea, Vietnam, Malaysia, South Korea, and China traveled to said locations to present their songs on stage. ASOP Asia-Oceania Secretariat indicated that it received 47 entries in total for this edition of the songwriting and music festival. 

Members in said countries monitored the proceedings via live video streaming where members also participated in an online voting for People’s Choice awardee.

Winners of the Division Finals in Melbourne, Australia in August will represent Asia-Oceania in the Year End Finals of the bi-annual ASOP Music Festival in Pampanga, Philippines. Conceptualized by MCGI Leaders Bro. Eli Soriano and Bro. Daniel Razon, the ASOP Music Festival seeks the best original songs of praise made by members Church-wide.

Last year, the Asia-Oceania Division brought home the Song of the Mid-Year and Year-End titles with song entries “Alabok na Sisidlan” (Dust Vessel) by Bro. Pablo Buan and “Unang Pag-ibig” (First Love) by Bro. Enrique Libiran.

For the full list of winners, please see here.

(Words by Art Cruz)

(Photograph by Jonathan Veluz)

ASOP Year-End Finals 2012: Much Better Than Last – Bro. Eli

Capping 2012 with new songs of praise, the “A Song of Praise Year-End Finals” on December 25 last year yielded better entries than the Mid-Year ASOP Festival in July of 2012.

Bro. Eli Soriano, who judged the bi-annual event of the Members Church of God International (MCGI), together with Bro. Daniel Razon, said that though the entries in this ASOP Finals fared much better than the last festival, they have not yet reached the standards of ‘the perfect songs for a perfect God.’

The Presiding Minister to the MCGI also commended the program and presentation of songs. The songwriting competition was held at the ADD Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga.

Bro. Eliseo Soriano congratulating ASOP Year-End 2012 winners in Pampanga, Philippines.
Bro. Eli Soriano congratulating the winners of the A Song of Praise Music Festival 2012 Year-End Finals.

Critiquing Choruses Critical to Songs’ Success

ASOP’s much awaited segment was the part when MCGI Leaders gave comments after each song was presented. “Wordy” became the word of the night as Bro. Daniel critiqued the ‘compacted’ structure of the choruses’ lines. He stressed the importance of writing a chorus, that it should contain a song’s most crucial musical lines.

What also makes this songwriting festival unique is that comments are accompanied by suggestions on how the lyrics can still be improved. As in most of this edition’s entries, it was their choruses’ lyrics that Bro. Eli made minor changes to, with the composer’s indulgence.

Other pieces of musical advice the Vice-Presiding Minister to the MCGI gave included proper choice of words, intended audience, and music length. He has composed several songs in the past; some of which have been rendered by popular Filipino artists like Jed Madela and Richard Reynoso.

Also a songwriter himself, Bro. Daniel shared his songwriting technique where he starts with a song’s chorus first, making it easier to develop the other parts. He noted however that the ‘build-up to the chorus’ is highly important as well.

Singer-songwriter Bro. Daniel Razon giving tips on making heavenly praise music.
Composers and lyricists also hear comments to their song from singer-songwriter Bro. Daniel Razon.

For his part, Bro. Eli did ‘live editing’ of the choruses. Since most of the songs had lyric-length issues, he would request interpreters to repeat the chorus applying his suggestions.

Bro. Eli voicing his thoughts on how to properly end a chorus melodically speaking. In the end, the MCGI Leaders added another line to the song entry’s chorus completing it.

The Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path) host even wished that he had time to talk with the composers and see their work before the event. However, his regular Bible Expositions in different languages and time zones and other responsibilities make him unavailable for the endeavor.

After some words were omitted and a few notes changed, the songs’ choruses ended up with an easier singing and listening experience. The crowd gathered at the Convention applauded as they heard the song’s improvement outright.

Winning Pieces

Two songs were awarded Song of the Year-End with a score of 94.7%. Sharing the title were Ang Una Kong Pag-ibig (My First Love) from South Korea and Walang Kasing Tamis (Nothing Sweeter) from the National Capital Region.

Bro. Eli also expressed his appreciation of all the singers’ interpretation of the songs. He remarked however that ASOP is not about the way the songs of praise were sung, but how they were crafted.

For Bro. Eliseo Soriano a song of praise must pass biblical standards.
Apart from musical standards, the song’s lyrics must be biblically sound according to Bro. Eli.

He said that he and Bro. Daniel are “focused on a song’s lyrics,” on its being biblical, and on the “faith of the brother that is in the song.”

The MCGI Leaders hope that members will continue to improve their songwriting for “the Greatest Person in the universe.”

For the complete list of winners, please see here.

(Written by: Rigor Arellano)

 (Photography by: Rovic Balunsay, Photoville International)