By Christine Biaoco*


People winning the national, regional or local music competitions that speak about our culture and achievements as Filipinos never cease to amaze me with their talent. My admiration for them continues to grow especially when they are the one composing these songs because they really use their talent to touch the Filipino lives. This is evident in their splendid and soulful renditions. Music is their way of expressing their compassion and patriotism to our country.

            I come from San Jose, the capital town of Antique where a lot of provincial music competitions such as “Tukib Antiqueño” are held to hone the Antiqueño talents. As a child, I enjoyed watching our local artists sing Kinaray-a songs and marvel at how they put their hearts at it. Dante M. Beriong is one of our local artists who made music history when his composition was chosen as the official Philippine Centennial Independence theme song. His achievement was such a great milestone making Antiqueños very proud.

            Unfolding the inspiring story behind his success would be a great topic to discuss. With Mr. Beriong as a townmate, I didn’t let the opportunity pass to peek at his success story.

            Sir Beriong started writing songs when he was in high school in the early 70s. He was not able to compose much during his college because of a busy academic life at Ateneo De Manila University. However, he was able to join “Himigsikan”- Ateneo’s song writing competition using his high school composition entitled “For Agnes”.

After graduation from college, he was able to work as an Economics teacher at St. Anthony’s College-high school department and later served the office of the government. This also paved the way for him to record his first two English songs in 1990 with the help and encouragement of his friends and family who believe in his talent. These songs were entitled “For Agnes”, his high school composition and “How Can I?” which he composed for his wife, Felisa.

Mr. Beriong won his first regional championship award from the Department of Tourism Songwriting Competition in1995. His greatest achievement came when he won in 1997 in the search for the Philippine Centennial Independence theme song. His song was played during the Philippine Independence Day in 1998. I asked him how he was able to join the competition and he told me that he was encouraged by his friends from the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) Antique chapter, particularly Ms. Jane Delos Santos and their manager, Mr. Arceo. DBP was the sponsor of the competition. At first, he was reluctant to join because it was such a big competition and he thought that he had no chance of winning. He felt that his competitors from Manila would dominate the award because songwriters there are the best at their field. But in the end, he convinced himself to just try.

            The search started as early as the beginning of 1996. It was indeed a tough fight for him having to compete with a total of 1054 entries nationwide. There was a three-layered selection before the top 12 finalists were selected. First, the screening committee chose the top 500, then the top 100, then the top 30 and then the final 12. Bayang Barrios, the female vocalist of Joey Ayala’s Bagong Lumad, also joined the competition. The entries were judged based on the lyrics and melody of the song. The panel of judges who screened the entries was composed of professional musicians, academicians and historians among others. Notable personalities among them were national artist Lucio San Pedro, Prof. Andrea Veneracion of the UP Madrigal singers, Jose Mari Chan, Freddie Aguilar and Ms. Maan Hontiveros of Sony Philippines.

            I was surprised to learn that he wrote the lyrics of the song “Mabuhay ka Pilipino!” (the title of his winning piece) in just one hour and the melody within one week. Back in college, he became friends with Mr. Arnel De Pano, a schoolmate who always won their “Himigsikan” song writing competition. Interestingly, Mr. De Pano who is also the composer of the song “Lead Me Lord” became the arranger of his song “Mabuhay Ka Pilipino!.”  Here, the background used was a combination of ethnic and modern sounds. This suggests what the milieu is and it also tells us how far we’ve traveled to achieve our thirst for freedom.

I was curious on how he was able to come up with the title since the title is usually the first that attracts the listeners as well as the judges. So, he told me that it was the right title for him because it was a song of celebration expressing the triumph of the Filipinos in their quest for freedom and sovereignty, not withstanding the hardships and the course of their struggles. This is evident in these lines that say “Tangan mo ngayon samo’t saring pakikipaglaban upang kapayapaan ay makamtan at magapi ang kahirapan. Sa sulungan di papipigil, higit di iiwas sa hamon ng kaunlaran lalo kang lumalakas.” (You now bear what you have plead for through fighting to achieve freedom and to overpower poverty. In advancing, you cannot be stopped and most of all, you become stronger with the challenge of development.)

            With all these qualities that Sir Beriong has incorporated in his song, the judges hailed him the grand champion. The awarding was held at the Nicanor Abelardo Hall of the Cultural Center of the Philippines on January 23, 1997. He received P100, 000 as grand prize. For him, his edge among the others was that his song was comprehensive in its lyrical substance and the music was very original. Moreover, it was interpreted by a UP Conservatory of Music Professor, Mr. Edward Granadusin.

            “Music helped me project the musical cultural wealth of the province and draw the best out of what an Antiqueño can be in the field of music. It also made me deeply grateful to God for the talents that He has given me”.

He became a songwriter because he believes that there is something more than just singing. Writing songs is a totally different avenue of music because it challenges his creativity to make something out of his own appreciation, observation and understanding of life and its complexities.

Sir Beriong doesn’t only express his sentiments with what he can see in his society through singing his music compositions. He also has this urge to put these thoughts into action. He was thrice elected as a Sangguniang Bayan (SB) member in our town. Presently, he is an elected Sangguniang Panlalwigan (SP) member in our province.

Now that he holds a lot of responsibilities to his people as well as his family and church as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or known as Mormons that he has taken a rest from joining music competitions. However, he also earns commission from composing songs to those who want him to compose songs for them. As of now, he still continues writing songs for his third album of Original Kinaray-a Music (OKM). His finished
CD albums are entitled ANTIQUE, ANTIQUEÑO and MAULI GID AKO SA ANTIQUE which are still available at the office of the Paranubliun Antique located at the new Antique capitol building.

Sir Beriong had joined other competitions such as the Ilonggo Music Festival, The Red Cross Search for its Millennial Theme Song and the DOT regional and national song writing. He is also a performing artist in various events and places. He has performed during the goodwill and cultural mission to the United States headed by Gov. Salvacion Z. Perez (Antique’s governor) for the Antiqueño communities in the east and west coast, the cultural mission for Antiqueño communities in Kidapawan, North Cotabato and during the “Wow Philippines” in Intramuros Manila. He has also performed in regional and competitions for tourism and agricultural fairs in Iloilo City, in provincial and municipal public events such as fiestas.

“My talent for song writing was developed as a result of enthusiasm and great interest in music. I had no formal trainings. I taught myself starting with playing the guitar and learning the basics of piano in our church”. His great performance and enthusiasm indeed led him to greater heights in this field. He was awarded by the “Paranublion Antique, Inc., a cultural Non -Government Organization. He was also a “Bugal Kang Antique (Pride of Antique) awardee of the provincial government. He is presently the vice chair of the Binirayan Foundations Inc. that is in-charged with Binirayan Festival activities of our province which is a month long celebration every April.

Sir Beriong’s four children are also musically gifted as well as his wife who was a disc jockey before they got married. (His wife, Ma’am Felisa is currently an English teacher at Antique National School.)

“Music is an embodiment of your creative juices, whether it be emotional, spiritual or intellectual. It is something that flows out of your humanity. If you have a talent in music, don’t stop loving it and continue to hone your skills. It may not be evident immediately, but the benefits that you will derive form your love of music will eventually contribute to a happy and successful life”, Sir Beriong passionately advised.      

      Dante M. Beriong’s

e-mail address:


About the author:

I am a first second year student at the University of the Philippines-Visayas taking up B.S. in Public Health. I enjoy philosophizing, attending religious youth camps as well as nature trips. I also enjoy reading medical and religious-related pocketbooks.  I am also musically inclined that made me interested on this topic.  My e-mail address:



  • Ø Regional Champion & National Finalist – Department of Tourism Songwriting Competition (1995) “HOW CAN I LEAVE YOU?”


  • Ø Ilonggo Music Festival Finalist (1996) “ANOTHER LIFETIME”

                        1ST runner-up (1999) “EASE THE PAIN”

                        2nd runner-up (2000)    “LONGING”                        


  • Ø National Grand Champion- Search for the Theme Song of the 1998 Philippine Centennial

                        Celebrations out of 1,054 entries nationwide (1997)

                                    “MABUHAY KA PILIPINO” (P 100 000 prize)


  • Ø 1st runner-up- National Search for the Millennial Song of Philippine National Red Cross along with Trina Belamide (Champion) & Nonong Pedero (2nd runner-up) (1999)

                                                “NO CREED NOR COLOR” (P200 000 prize)


  • Ø Champion-Search for the Theme Song of the Centennial of Palawan’s Civil Government (2002) “PALAWAN”







(National Theme Song of the Philippine Councilors League)



(Used as National Jingle of the Lakbay Kontra Droga Campaign)



(2004 West Visayas Regional Athletic Meet Theme Song)



(Dinagyang Festival Theme Song of Iloilo City)



(Binirayan Festival Theme Song)



(Provincial Tourism Program Song)




(Reproductive Health Program Theme Song)



(Municipal Theme Song of Hamtic, Antique)



(Municipal Theme Song of Sebaste, Antique)



(Municipal Theme Song of Laua-an, Antique)



(Municipal Theme Song of Tibiao, Antique)



(Carrier single of the CD Album of the same title)



(Carrier single of the CD Album of the same title)



(1997 World Food Day Celebration Theme Song)



(1998 World Food Day Celebration-1st runner-up)



(Municipal Theme Song of Taytay, Palawan)



(Banigan Festival Theme Song of Caluya, Antique)



   (Tatusan Festival Song of Caluya, Antique)











Mabuhay ka Pilipino!
By Dante M. Beriong

San daang taong kasaysayan ang lumipas
Kalayaang pinaglaban, bukang bibig mong binibigkas
Kasarinla’y nakamtan dahil sa dugong ibinuwis
Kasama ng mga luha’t taghoy, pagod at hinagpis

Nahan kana sa iyong kinalalagyan…
Sa gitna ng makabuluhan’t makulay mong kasaysayan
Ipadama’t ipagbunyi at panatilihing lagging gising
Sa bayang mithiin ng puso’t diwa’t damdamin…

Malaya ka na Pilipino kagitingan mo’y isisigaw
Sa buong mundo……. Sa buong mundo…..
Kasarinlan at kalayaan, { Hinding hindi pababayaan / Patuloy kong ipaglalaban }
Taglay ang bagong anyo ng pag asa…
Pilipino aking { Kapatid / Kaibigan / Kababayan }
Mabuhay ka……..

Tangan mo ngayon samo’t saring pakikipaglaban
Upang kapayapaan ay makamtan at magapi ang kahirapan
Sa sulungan di papipigil, higit di iiwas
Sa hamon ng kaunlaran lalo kang lumalakas…

Ulitin ang II

Mula noon hanggang ngayun, sa Mindanao, Bisaya at Luzon
Kabayanihan mo’y narrating.. Pagkat inang bayan.. iniibig……Iniibig…..

Ulitin ang II

Mabuhay ka……… 4x