Levi Celerio: The Lyricist of Philippine Music

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Image Courtesy: Google Doodle

Levi Celerio (30 April 1910 – 2 April 2002) was a Filipino composer and lyricist who is credited with writing over 4,000 songs. Celerio was recognized as a National Artist of the Philippines for Music and Literature in 1997.

Life and Career

Levi Celerio was born on 30 April 1910, in Tondo, Manila, Philippines. He came from a musically inclined family, and he learned to play the harmonica, piano, and flute at a young age. He began composing music while still in school, and his talents were quickly recognized.

Celerio’s career as a composer and lyricist spanned several decades and encompassed a wide range of musical styles. He composed over 4,000 songs in his lifetime, many of which became popular hits in the Philippines and beyond.

Celerio was also known for his unique talent in playing various musical instruments, including the harp, violin, and guitar. He was especially famous for his ability to play the leaf, a humble instrument made from the leaf of the talisay tree. His skill in playing the leaf earned him international acclaim, and he performed for audiences around the world. Levi Celerio died on 2 April 2002, in Manila, Philippines, at the age of 92.

Award and Legacy

Celerio received many awards and honors throughout his career, including the prestigious National Artist Award in Music in 1997, the highest honor given to artists in the Philippines. Levi Celerio’s contributions to Philippine music and culture are significant. He is considered one of the greatest composers and lyricists in Philippine history, and his songs continue to be sung and enjoyed by Filipinos today. His talent in playing the leaf has also inspired a new generation of musicians to experiment with unique and unconventional instruments.

Celerio was named National Artist for Music and Literature, the highest national honor recognizing significant contributions to Philippine arts and cultural identity. Many of his songs written for local movies, some becoming the films’ titles, earned him a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Film Academy of the Philippines.

In later years, Celerio became a cultural icon after appearing on The Merv Griffin Show and That’s Incredible! television shows. He continued to play public concerts at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and at a local Quezon City bar. On his 100th birthday, the Philippines honored him with a stamp.

Celerio’s legacy also extends beyond the Philippines. His compositions have been recorded by many international artists, and his skill in playing the leaf has earned him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the only person to play music using a leaf. He is a symbol of the rich musical heritage of the Philippines and a testament to the enduring power of music to unite people across cultures and generations. On 30 April 2018, Google celebrated Levi Celerio’s 108th Birthday with a doodle.