Check out this Award-winning and moving documentary Harana – The Search for the Lost Art of Serenade. Now streaming for free on YouTube. Upon his father’s death, Florante, a classically trained guitarist returns to the Philippines after 12 years of absence and rediscovers the music of harana – a long-forgotten tradition of Filipino serenading when men sang under the window at night to declare their love for a woman. Intent on unearthing these unheralded songs, Florante travels to the remote provinces where he discovers three of the last surviving practitioners – a farmer, a fisherman and a tricycle driver. Word soon spread of these master haranistas whose style of singing touch the hearts everywhere they performed. But the question remains – can harana be restored to its former glory or is it doomed to vanish silently into the night forever?
About the Harana Kings
Born in 1934, Felipe Alonzo hails from Bantay, Ilocos Sur. He is well known in his community and is often seen performing around the city of Vigan during Christmas and town fiestas. He learned many of the songs when he was growing up performing in sarswelas, which he refers to as “entablados” – live comic operettas performed in the town plaza. In 1965, Mr. Alonzo, who is a self-taught guitarist, recorded Ilocano haranas for Villar Records. Mr. Alonzo passed away in March 2013. He was 78.
Celestino Aniel was born in 1946 in the town of Naic, Cavite. Mr. Aniel learned many popular songs through the radio and recordings from the 1950s to the 1970s such as those of Ruben Tagalog, Larry Miranda, Ric Manrique, Jr. and Cenon Lagman. Aniel’s singing style is also a nod to popular crooners such as Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole and Perry Como, a style that was adopted and incorporated into harana during American occupation in the 1940s. Mr. Aniel is often seen singing around his hometown for friends and small gatherings. Mr. Aniel passed away in September 2012. He was 66.
Born 1946 in Maragondon, Cavite, Romeo Bergunio recently won first place in a harana singing contest for seniors in his hometown. He learned from his father and grandfather many olden and unknown songs not often heard on the radio, thus preserving the songs completely through oral tradition. He specializes in kundiman songs – both in its rudimentary form as well as the more formalized structure championed by Philippine composers such as Nicanor Abelardo. Mr. Bergunio has recently retired after years of making his livelihood as a fisherman because “there are no more fish to be caught” in the rivers and open waters.