Two Tagalog songs, one of which was composed by inspirational diva Jamie Rivera, have been chosen official theme songs for soon-to-be saint Blessed Pedro Calungsod.
Jamie’s “Kuya Pedro” and “San Pedro Calungsod: Huwaran ng mga Kabataan,” a Tagalog-Cebuano song written by Fr. Timoteo M. Ofrasio, S.J., were selected from among the many songs written in honor of the Filipino martyr.
Former Vatican Ambassador Henrietta de Villa, secretary general of the National Commission on the Canonization of Blessed Pedro Calungsod, said the commission found the two songs “apt and beautiful,” encouraging everyone to listen to them.
Like a brother
“The song (Jamie’s composition) made me feel like Blessed Pedro was so near, very contemporary,” De Villa added. “That’s exactly how we wanted to portray the saint to other people—a brother.”
“Kuya Pedro” was composed and arranged by Noel Espenida, while “Huwaran,” recorded by Tinig San Jose and Himig Heswita, was composed by Fr. Arnel Aquino, S.J.
Rivera will sing “Kuya Pedro” live on October 21 during a musical program at the 5,000-seater San Juan Arena that coincides with Calungsod’s canonization, said De Villa. A live feed of the canonization rites in Rome will also be shown.
Calungsod, a 17-year-old missionary and overseas Filipino worker from the Visayas, will be the second Filipino saint to be canonized after St. Lorenzo Ruiz in 1987. He was beatified in March 2000 by Blessed John Paul II.
“I feel the need to have a Tagalog song for this special event,” Jamie related. “All special events have theme songs.”
She thought of “Kuya Pedro” as the song’s title because Filipinos are fond of calling older men—not only their male siblings—kuya (brother).
Jamie explained that “a kuya is someone who will be there to protect you in times of trouble,” an attribute befitting Calungsod.
She said she learned many felt blessed after having heard the song, which she first sang last Sept. 28 during the “Pagpupugay Kay Beato Pedro Calungsod” at the University of Santo Tomas.
Teen patron saint
“Calungsod could be a patron saint of teenagers,” she added. “I pray to him for protection of my 15-year-old child.”
Rivera said she was inspired by how Calungsod started teaching catechism to children in Marianas Islands and defended his faith from the natives despite threats to his life.
“Anyone who lives according to the word of God and imitates the works of Jesus could be a living saint,” she noted.
Calungsod died at age 17 in Guam after baptizing several natives in 1672.
Jamie has been singing gospel songs since 2000, which she said was her way of thanking God and glorifying His name for all the blessings He has bestowed on her family.
An excerpt of “Teen St. Pedro, the Musical,” a play led by Makisig Morales about the life of Pedro Calungsod, will also be shown during the musical program for the saint on October 21.
The musical video will also be shown in Rome during Calungsod’s canonization.
The Filipino groups that will perform during the rites at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome include the Coro de San Jacinto of Tuguegarao, University of Visayas Youth Chorale, and the multiawarded Mandaue Children and Youth Chorus.
Rivera, who has also appeared in “Miss Saigon” and other musicals, is famous for her inspirational songs “Heal Our Land,” “Jubilee Song,” and “Only Selfless Love” (which she sang at the 4th World Meeting of Families in Manila).