Celeste Legaspi

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Celeste Legaspi (born March 18, 1950) is a Filipino singer and actress. Her singles and albums reached gold or platinum status during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. She is the daughter of National Artist for Visual Arts Cesar Legaspi.[1] She spearheaded the Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit (OPM), a group which aimed to promote and propagate Original Pilipino music. She is married to Nonoy Gallardo, one of the premier OPM composers.

Life and career

Celeste Legaspi (nicknamed Maricelle) is third of the five children of National Artist Cesar Legaspi and his wife who once classified as coloratura. Celeste started singing during her kindergarten years. By 1955, she started singing professionally with The Ambivalent Crowd, earning ₱25 per performance.

While in college, she appeared in Show Boat as Magnolia followed by her performance as Nancy in the Philippine presentation of Oliver!. But she later confessed that her performance in Show Boat scared her. "There I was, cracking every night, unable to be heard from the musical accompaniment, with Mama holding on to my sister Diana's hand. As a result I was disillusioned with my singing and with my course then--nursing," Legaspi told in an interview.

But the then 16-year-old Celeste Legaspi didn't give up her singing. Her singing career flourished upon shifting her course to Communication Arts at Maryknoll College (now Miriam College). She joined The Ambivalent Crowd, became a college graduate in 1971, and eventually married to Dominador 'Nonoy' Gallardo in March, 1972, who was then an advertising man.

In 1972, she left The Ambivalent Crowd and joined the Up from Down Under Band as a soloist for a three-month stint at Wells Fargo. Then she became part of the Time Machine which at the time had a songstress named Didith Reyes and Anthony Castelo who would both conquer the OPM charts in the years ahead.

Legaspi's career rose further upon joining the ASEAN Tour in 1975 followed by a solo concert at the Cultural Center of the Philippines' (CCP) Little Theater where Rolando Tinio, one of the Philippines' literary geniuses, featured her in Filipino translations of popular songs at that time, most of the songs appeared in her Celeste ... Popular Songs Vol. 1 album. The album featured Celeste's heartwarming Filipino renditions of Mini Ripperton's Loving You, Diana Ross' Theme from Mahogany, and The Lady Is A Tramp.

The impressive feat was followed by successful dinner-theater presentations in 1977 of Manila, Manila which won her an Aliw Award for Best Dinner Theater performance for that year. She also starred in Doon Po Sa Amin and Jesus Christ Superstar in 1978, each garnering Best Dinner Theater awards.


Celeste Legaspi claims she is greatly influenced by Barbra Streisand, Liza Minnelli, Lena Horne, and Ella Fitzgerald. During one of her interviews she said that her type of music rests on elements of blues and those which intend to break the monotony of pop music.

Theater arts

Her theater career began when she starred in two college productions. She sang the part of the first woman in the play "Tales of the Manuvu" (1977), where she shared the stage with Hajji Alejandro. Her other stage works include an appearance in the hit musical Katy! (1988) for the Cultural Center of the Philippines' Tanghalang Pilipino, and the portrayals of Babae in North Diversion Road (1988), Caridad in the zarzuela Paglipas ng Dilim (1991), and Candida in Larawan (1992).

With talent manager Girlie Rodis, she was co-founder of Musical Theatre Philippines (Musicat), which produced seven musicals: Katy! (1988), Kenkoy Loves Rosing (1992), Alikabok (1995), Sino Ka Ba, Jose Rizal? (1996), Larawan, the Musical (1997), Fire Water Woman (1999), and Saranggola ni Pepe (2008) [2]

Along with theater icon Zeneida Amador, she was awarded as the first recipient of "Natatanging Gawad Buhay!" Award given by the Philippine Legitimate Stage Artists Group, Inc. (Philstage). The award embodies her lifetime contribution and marvelous efforts for the production of original Filipino musicals which flourished for over two decades since the 1980s. Legaspi, being the founding president of the Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit and Philstage, was key in establishing the Philippines' sole alliance of professional performing arts companies and organizations.


Legaspi appeared in films such as Lino Brocka's Santiago (1970), Stardoom (1971) and Sa Kabila ng Lahat (1991), Mamang Sorbetero (1979), Tatlong Ina, Isang Anak (1987), Anak ng Pasig (1993) and Ishmael Bernal's Wating (1994). She also sang the main theme song on Kahit ang Mundo'y Magunaw (1975), a Manuel Cinco film starring Pilar Pilapil and Christopher De Leon. She is part of the cast of the 2017 film Ang Larawan.


Legaspi is also a TV actress. One of her earliest TV exposures is when she was eight years old appearing in a Vicks commercial. In 1975-1976 she received the Sinag Awards from the Pambansang Akademya ng Telebisyon sa Agham at Sining (PATAS) for her performance in the TV special At Long Last Celeste, and for the TV weekly musical Iba't-ibang Celeste. She also guested in a drama series, Cebu in 1991. In 2014, she portrayed Maricel Soriano's protective and aristocratic mom in GMA-7's in the successful teleserye, Ang Dalawang Mrs. Real.

Recording career

Legaspi is a successful recording artist, having produced albums and singles that reached gold and platinum status during the '70s and '80s. Her album Ako si Celeste under Blackgold Records was awarded gold, and produced hit singles "Saranggola ni Pepe", "Tuliro", and "Gaano Ko Ikaw Kamahal?". The Celeste album included "Mamang Sorbetero". Her albums Bagong Plaka, Lumang Kanta Vol. 1 and 2 albums under Wea Records both reached the double platinum mark.

She won several awards including Outstanding Performance award from the Song Festival in Tokyo, Japan, where she sang "Puso Mong Nagmamahal" (1976), Tinig Awards for live entertainment (1977, 1979, and 1990), and the Aliw Award for Entertainer of the Year (1978).



  • "Ako'y Bakyang-bakya" / "Ang Buhay Ko'y Iyong-iyo" (1976)
  • "Basta't Mahal Kita"
  • "Bingwit ng Pag-ibig"
  • "Binibiro Lamang Kita"
  • "Dahil sa Iyo" (also covered by Julio Iglesias, Nat King Cole)
  • "Fiesta"
  • "Galawgaw"
  • "Halina't Magsaya"
  • "Ikaw Kasi"
  • "Kalesa"
  • "Lab Na Lab"
  • "Larawan ng Buhay" / "Gaano Ko Ikaw Kamahal" (1977)
  • "Mamang Sorbetero" / "Kubling Hardin" (1979)
  • "Minsan ang Minahal Ay Ako" (1996, Theme from “Katy The Musical”)
  • "Movie Fan"
  • "Nasaan ang Palakpakan"
  • "No Money, No Honey"
  • "Only Selfless Love" (Theme of World Meeting Of Families PH 2003)
  • "Pagdating Mo" (2nd Place Winner, MetroPop Song Festival 1978)
  • "Ang Puso Kong Nagmamahal" / "Hanggang Wakas"
  • "Saan Ka Man Naroon" (also covered by Ric Manrique, Jr.)
  • "Sabado"
  • "Sapagka't Mahal Kayo"
  • "Saranggola ni Pepe" / "Lahat ng Gabi Bawa't Araw" (1977)
  • "Sarung Banggi"
  • "Tuliro"
  • "Waray-Waray"


  • Disco Dancing Moonlight (Pioneer Records, 1972)
  • PopSongs Volume 1 (Pioneer Records, 1976)
  • Ako at si Celeste (Vicor Music Corp., 1977)
  • Celeste...Celeste (Universal Records, 1979)
  • Bagong Plaka, Lumang Kanta (Universal Records, 1980)
  • Bagong Plaka, Lumang Kanta Vol. 2 (Universal Records, 1982)
  • This Is My Song (Universal Records, 1982)
  • Koleksyon (Universal Records, 1984)
  • Plakang Pamasko ni Celeste Legaspi (Universal Records, 1984)
  • Si Celeste Naman Ngayon...Sapagkat Mahal Kayo: Tribute to Sylvia La Rorre (Universal Records, 1986)
  • The 30th Year (Universal Records, 1987)
  • Bagong Plaka, Lumang Kanta Vol. 3 (Universal Records, 1990)
  • Ang Larawan Musical Soundtrack, BMG, 1997


  • 40th Anniversary Celeste Legaspi Collection (2005)


  • Pamasko ng mga Bituin (Universal Records, 1981)
  • Parangal Kay Constancio C. De Guzman (Universal Records, 1982)
  • Salubungin ang Pasko (Universal Records, 1986)
  • Ginintuang Diwa ng Pasko (Universal Records, 1989)
  • Maayong Pasko (Universal Records, 1989)
  • Ryan Cayabyab Silver Album (Sony BMG Music, 1996)
  • Bongga! (The Biggest Retro OPM Hits) (Universal Records, 2008)
  • Bongga 2 (The Biggest Retro OPM Hits) (Universal Records, 2009)



  • Concert at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Little Theater (November 8, 1975)
  • Between Friends (with Maya 'Mitch' Valdez)(Light & Sound Theater Lounge, 1986)
  • Celeste Komiks Konsyerto (Cultural Center of the Philippines, 1985)
  • Celeste Sine! Sine! (Folk Arts Theater, 1986)
  • Celeste Tunog PPO (Cultural Center of the Philippines Main Theater, 1987)
  • Isang Daang Himig, Isang Daang Tinig: A Musical (with Ogie Alcasid, Janno Gibbs, Randy Santiago, Rachel Alejandro, etc.) (Folk Arts Theater, 2000)
  • Celeste: A Tribute Concert (Solaire Grand Ballroom, 2017)


  • SINAG Awards (PATAS): At Long Last Celeste (1975); Iba't-Ibang Celeste (1976)
  • ALIW AWARDS: Best Dinner Theater Performance: Manila, Manila (1977); Doon Po sa Amin (1978); Jesus Christ Superstar (1978). Entertainer of the Year (1978).
  • World Popular Song Festival (Tokyo, Japan): Outstanding Performance for Puso Mong Nagmamahal (1976)
  • TINIG AWARDS for Live Entertainment (1977, 1979 and 1990)
  • Metro Manila Popular Music Festival. Second Prize (Pagdating Mo, 1978); Finalist (Nasaan Ang Palakpakan, 1980) (as interpreter) (Music and Lyrics by Nonoy Gallardo)
  • World Song Festival in Seoul (1981) Silver Award (Never Ever Say Goodbye) (Willy Cruz, composer)
  • The Outstanding Women in the Nation's Service (TOWNS) Awards (1989)
  • Natatanging Gawad Buhay! Award. Philstage Lifetime Achievement Award (2010)
  • OPM ICON AWARD. Third Philippine Movie Press Club (PMPC) Star Awards for Music (2011)
Year Award Giving Body Category Nominated Work Results
2000 Awit Awards Dangal / Parangal ng Musikong Pilipino Awards Template:N/A [3]
2011 Eastwood City Walk Of Fame Celebrity Inductee Template:N/A


  1. "Remembering Celeste Legaspi. Inquirer.net", Philippine Daily Inquirer. 
  2. Ang, Walter. Hey, Madame Producers!. WordsOfWalter.blogspot.com.
  3. 13th Awit Awards Results. Archived from the original on March 2, 2006.

Alice H. Reyes. Entertainer Par Excellence. Expressweek, January 25, 1979, pp. 28–30

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