Levi Celerio

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(To view the Filipino version of this article, click Levi Celerio)

Levi Celerio (April 30, 1910 - April 2, 2002) is a Filipino composer and lyricist who was born in Manila, the Philippines. Celerio was a prolific song-writer, with over 4,000 songs to his credit. He is perhaps best-known for being a leaf-player, a feat for which he was put into the Guinness Book of World Records. In 1997, he was named National Artist of the Philippines for Music. He died on April 2, 2002.



Levi Celerio was born on April 30, 1910 in Tondo, Manila. He received a scholarship to the Academy of Music in Manila and became the youngest member of the Manila Symphony Orchestra. He wrote a great number of songs for local movies, which earned for him the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Film Academy of the Philippines. Celerio has written lyrics for more than 4,000 Filipino folk, Christmas, and love songs, including many that became movie titles.

Known for being a lyricist, his songs cherish life, convey nationalistic sentiments and utter grand philosophies. Celerio wrote more than 4,000 songs, among them are popular pieces, which many consider to be immortal. At one time or another, no Filipino could miss the tune or lyrics of Levi's Christmas songs: Pasko na Naman, Maligayang Pasko at Manigong Bagong Taon (Ang Pasko ay Sumapit), and Misa de Gallo.

His more popular love songs include: Saan Ka Man Naroroon?, Kahit Konting Pagtingin, Gaano Ko Ikaw Kamahal, Kapag Puso'y Sinugatan, and Ikaw, O Maliwanag na Buwan, Dahil Sa Isang Bulaklak, Sa Ugoy ng Duyan, Bagong Pagsilang, and Sapagkat Kami'y Tao Lamang, while his folk songs include Ang Pipit, Tinikling, Tunay na Tunay, Itik-Itik, Waray-Waray, Pitong Gatang, Ako ay May Singsing, Alibangbang, Alembong, Galawgaw, Caprichosa, Ang Tapis ni Inday, Dungawin Mo Hirang, Umaga na Neneng, Ikaw Kasi, and Basta't Mahal Kita. Celerio also wrote nationalistic songs such as Ang Bagong Lipunan, Lupang Pangarap, and Tinig ng Bayan.

Celerio, for a time, was also recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the only man who could play music with a leaf. Because of his talent, Celerio was invited to The Merv Griffin Show, where he played "All the Things You Are" with 39 musicians. Using his leaf, Levi wowed the crowd and got the attention of the Guinness Book of World Records. The Book later listed the entry: "The only leaf player in the world is in the Philippines". He would also later appear on That's Incredible!. [1]

On October 9, 1997, pursuant to Proclamation No. 1114, President Fidel V. Ramos proclaimed him a National Artist for Music and Literature. His citation read that his music "was a perfect embodiment of the heartfelt sentiments and valued traditions of the Filipino." [2]

In his old age, Levi occasionally appeared in public, usually at a concert at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. He was also playing at a Quezon City bar from time to time. Levi was a poor man, so poor in fact that he could not pay for his hospital bills. [3]

He died at the Delgado Clinic in Quezon City on April 2, 2002 at the age of 91, just two days after the death of a fellow National Artist, Lucio San Pedro (who wrote the music for Sa Ugoy ng Duyan). But his death was overshadowed by the death of Rico Yan, a popular matinee idol thus, his death was received with little attention. He was buried with full military honors at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (National Heroes' Cemetery). [3]


  1. ^ Levi Celerio
  2. ^ National Commission for Culture and the Arts. (n.d.). National Artists of the Philippines. Manila: National Commission for Culture and the Arts.
  3. a b Filipino of the Century

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