UMAGANG KAY GANDA: The story behind Bongbong Marcos’ campaign song
Former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. has been using the OPM classic “Umagang Kay Ganda” in his campaign ads and events for months now. It has become a ubiquitous part of his presidential campaign – firing up his supporters and opponents alike.
The chorus of “Umagang kay Ganda” jibes perfectly with Marcos’ decision to focus his campaign on unity. Interestingly, the song was also used by then-House Speaker Jose de Venecia during his unsuccessful presidential campaign in 1998:
“Basta’t tayo’y magkasama
Laging mayroong umagang kay ganda
Pagsikat ng araw
May dalang liwanag
Sa ating pangarap oh
Written by Butch Monserrat in 1975 with the English title “Beautiful Morning,” “Umagang Kay Ganda” was originally performed by Tillie Moreno and Ray-An Fuentes in 1979. It was submitted as an entry during that year’s 2nd Metro Manila Popular Music Festival or MetroPop.
Billboard magazine described MetroPop in an article published in 1982 as the “biggest and most prestigious song contest” in the Philippines. It also noted that the annual competition was organized by the Popular Music Foundation of the Philippines, which was led by then-presidential daughter and now Senator Imee Marcos.
Speaking to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Monserrat attributed his song’s enduring popularity to the fact that it has a “very positive” and “uplifting” message. Despite the song’s failure to win any of the top three prizes, it went on to become one of the most recognizable Filipino songs ever with at least ten musical acts doing a cover of it including Bamboo, Lea Salonga, and Sarah Geronimo.
Meanwhile, the version of “Umagang Kay Ganda” used in ABS-CBN’s now-defunct eponymously-titled morning show was performed by Imago.