ASOP Goes Mainstream: Wish FM Plays Songs of Praise

Wish FM’s “Golden Sundays” got a little more golden as it started airing songs from the “A Song of Praise Music Festival” (ASOP) of UNTV Life on October 18, 2015 from 5-6 a.m.

Kuya Daniel Razon announced that the management of Wish FM agreed to broadcast ASOP songs during the recently concluded ASOP Grand Finals at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

UNTV CEO Kuya Daniel Razon stands before a Smart-Araneta Coliseum brimming with people during the ASOP Year 4 Grand Finals on October 13, 2015. (Photo courtesy of Photoville International)
UNTV CEO Kuya Daniel Razon stands before a Smart-Araneta Coliseum brimming with people during the ASOP Year 4 Grand Finals on October 13, 2015. (Photo courtesy of Photoville International)

“So your songs, all your songs, both winning entries and not…watch out and you’ll hear them air on Wish FM every Sunday,” Kuya Daniel told the 12 songwriters during the grand finals.

The event, which was held on October 13, 2015, was the culmination of ASOP’s Year 4, after choosing a winning song for each month of the year.

The Do-Re-Mi of ASOP on TV

The Philippines’ biggest Gospel songwriting tilt began as a Church-wide biannual event of the Members Church of God International (MCGI) in 2004.

Maestro Ryan Cayabyab, Chairman of the Board of Judges, expressing his sentiments to the crowd. "I felt like I was praying all night," he said of his ASOP experience. (Photo courtesy of Photoville International)
Maestro Ryan Cayabyab, Chairman of the Board of Judges, expressing his sentiments to the crowd. “I felt like I was praying all night,” he said of his ASOP experience. (Photo courtesy of Photoville International)

In September 2012, MCGI Overall Servants and ASOP creators Bro. Eli Soriano and Bro. Daniel Razon extended it to television. The contest is open to all amateur and professional songwriters.

ASOP is a first of its kind not only in theme but also in format with a live panel of judges commenting after each song entry is performed.

One of the grand finalists this year, Leonardo De Jesus III, told that he has no formal training in songwriting, but only applied what he learned from the ASOP judges every time he tuned in.

Leah Patricio raises her award in gratitude to the One above. She was hailed as the Best Interpreter of ASOP Year 4's Grand Finals. (Photo courtesy of Photoville International)
Leah Patricio raises her award in gratitude to the One above. She was hailed as the Best Interpreter of ASOP Year 4’s Grand Finals. (Photo courtesy of Photoville International)

ASOP airs its weekly eliminations on Sundays from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m., giving P20,000 to the winning song.

Monthly winners get P50,000 and are hailed as the music fest’s grand finalists. Consolation prizes to non-winning participants are also handed out.

Serious Money, Sincere Effort

The song-making competition, which recently debuted via radio airwaves, gives over P1M in tax-free prizes with half of it going to the Song of the Year winner.

Bro. Daniel remarked that the grand prize’s amount is equivalent to one who earns P40,000 per month, “That means, you can consider just writing songs of praise to God for the whole year.”

MCGI Overall Servant Bro. Eli Soriano speaks giving scientific and biblical insights on the importance of songs of praises via live video streaming. (Photo courtesy of Photoville International)
MCGI Overall Servant Bro. Eli Soriano giving scientific and biblical insights on the importance of songs of praises via live video streaming. (Photo courtesy of Photoville International)

Introducing Bro. Eli to the huge crowd, Bro. Razon said that he “is the man who really insisted that this [ASOP] be on television [through UNTV Life]. He is also the one who shells out [money] and extends his help for our composers to have a little token for their efforts.”

Bro. Eli, who spoke via live video streaming, shared his high regard for songs of praise.

“The thickest book in the Bible is the Book of Psalms, having less than 150 chapters,” remarked Bro. Eli. “It just shows that speaking of divinity, songs are important for God.”

Kuya Daniel Razon (center) and ASOP Hosts Richard Reynoso and Tony Rose Gayda sharing a candid moment on stage. The comedic chemistry of Reynoso and Gayda serve as tension-breaker before winners are announced. (Photo courtesy of Photoville International)
Kuya Daniel Razon (center) and ASOP Hosts Richard Reynoso and Tony Rose Gayda sharing a candid moment on stage. The comedic chemistry of Reynoso and Gayda serve as tension-breaker before winners are announced. (Photo courtesy of Photoville International)

The Old Path host added that praise music to the Lord does something for people. “It can strengthen our faith. It can give hope to us, and to other people as well.

“So I’m thankful for the continued participation of our composers, especially of our judges, here in the A Song of Praise Music Festival,” said Bro. Eli.

(Written by Rigor Arellano)

A First, Bro. Eli Hands ASOP Music Fest Top Prize to All Finalists

All thirteen finalists of the A Song of Praise Music Festival shared the “Song of the Year” award, a historic awarding in this bi-annual Members Church of God International (MCGI) songwriting competition.

Bro. Eliseo F. Soriano broke the “big news” during a regular Thanksgiving service on April 19 this year, two weeks after the songwriting festival was held on April 6, the second day of the International Thanksgiving to God (ITG).

Interpreters and composers get interviewed before a worldwide audience during the ASOP Year-End Finals on April 6, 2014 that coincided with MCGI's South-America-hosted International Thanksgiving.
Interpreters and composers get interviewed before a worldwide audience during the ASOP Year-End Finals on April 6, 2014 that coincided with MCGI’s South-America-hosted International Thanksgiving. (Photo courtesy of James Espiritu, PVI)

Although not unusual that two or three winners share the grand prize, declaring all finalists winners surprised everyone. It was a move that was made so much special because the Presiding Minister celebrated his baptism jubilee on April 7 this year.

Organizers said that over half-million cash prizes will be split to all winning composers, lyricists, and interpreters.

Philippine Finalists

The Philippines was represented by finalists from the regions of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Mindoro and Romblon (LBMR), Central Visayas, and Mindanao.

Cavite Division was the first to perform with “Mula ng Makilala Ka,” (Since I Met You), an original composition by Bro. Juanito Pascual and interpreted by Bro. Reynan Nueva.

“Dakilang Pagmamahal” (Great Love), a composition by Bro. Empol Balbin, represented LBMR Division.

The song titled, “We Sing You Praises”, composed and interpreted by Sis. Naomi Sorianosos with Sis. Jenny Gonzales, represented the Central Visayas region.

Rounding up the four songs hailing from the Philippines is “Sana ay Pakinggan” (Please Hear Me) from Mindanao Division’s Bro. James Almaden and performed by Sis.Nicole Ann Villagonzalo.

Asia and Oceania Finalists

Mongolia’s entry entitled “Budhing Walang Kapaslangan” (Clean Conscience) is one of the three finalists from Asia/Oceania Division. The song’s composer is Bro. Boy Gan and was performed by Bro. Nestor Torres.

Vietnam’s “Nais Kong Awitan Ka” (I Want to Sing To You) composed by Sis. Marjorie Navarro and interpreted by Sis. Maricel Ciricaco.

Last to be presented from the division is “Sa Puso Ko” (In My Heart) by Bro.Jude Abarca from Singapore, and performed by Bro. Gino Mendoza.

Middle East Finalists

“Ang Aral Mo Ama” (Your Teachings Oh Lord), composed by Sis. Joana Fortaleza and Sis. Roschelle Tantay and “In You My Lord,” composed by Bro. Bernardo Flores, are entries from Dubai-UAE Division.

Sis. Erlyn Dondriano interpreted “Ang Aral Mo Ama” while Bro. Rigor Arellano sung “In You, My Lord”.

Europe, Africa, and Israel, North and South American Finalists

Completing all 13 finalists are entries from Europe/Israel/Africa, South and North America, respectively.

Randy Mangiliman’s composition, “Mapagmahal na Dios” (Loving God” represented Europe/Israel/Africa in the songwriting tilt and was interpreted by Sis Dalyn Concepcion.

Bro. Mark Libradilla sings "Hanggang sa Walang Hanggan” written by Sis. Loida Dumandan from South America-Brazil Division during the ASOP Year-End Finals on April 6, 2014 at the ADD Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga, North of Manila. (Photo courtesy of Caloy Nicolas, PVI)
Bro. Mark Libradilla sings “Hanggang sa Walang Hanggan” written by Sis. Loida Dumandan from South America-Brazil Division during the ASOP Year-End Finals on April 6, 2014 at the ADD Convention Center in Apalit, Pampanga, North of Manila. (Photo courtesy of Caloy Nicolas, PVI)

Brazil’s entries include “Hanggang sa Walang Hanggan” (Until Forever), written by Sis. Loida Dumandan and performed by Bro. Mark Libradilla; as well as “Dakila Kang Manlalalang” (You Are The Great Creator), written by Sis. Fe Sunga, sung by Sis. Jelisa Trangia, made up two of South America’s winning pieces.

East Coast, North America was represented by Bro. Aaron Romero’s entry, “Merciful God”, which Sis. Myka Cloma performed during the finals night.

ASOP Music Festival entered mainstream television to discover local and international praise song writers. ASOP TV, featuring a weekly and monthly elimination rounds, airs every Sunday on UNTV 37.

(Written by Apple Arco)

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)


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