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Campaign season is here and jingles will be as commonplace as Christmas songs during yuletide.
Even if a great campaign tune is no guarantee of political success, it is considered by strategists as indispensable as other branding tools like posters, slogans, and the all-mighty kissing of babies – just see last year's comedy "The Campaign" for how vicious candidates can be when only one baby in the crowd is available for a buss.
There's a good reason why campaign jingles have been an election staple for the last 50 years. And in a country that has a Magic Sing in nearly every house, possession of a creative political jingle not only shows that you're serious about winning, but you've also got the resources to push for a decent media presence.
Dan Gil, in charge of music at production house LiquidPost and a composer of note with the indie electronica group Chilitees, explains that a campaign jingle usually costs “anything from P25,000 to P150,000.”
The rate changes depending on three things: originality, length, and number of revisions. Plenty of jingles are simply based on currently popular songs with the lyrics changed, and it's the cheapest way to go if you’re on a tight budget.
Of course the better songs require better composers, and even the best compositions need great musicians to execute them. Name musicians also add to the price tag.
Politicians with savvy choose their songs carefully and have experts craft them with attention to detail. When it comes down to it, a couple of hundred thousand pesos for that government seat isn’t so much in the long run.
Here are our top picks of campaign jingles from history, from pre-viral days when social media was still learning to crawl, whether they made a splash creatively, with uncanny timing, or simply for the power of sticking like glue to our heads.
They are arranged chronologically.
ARSENIO LACSON'S 'Lacson Mambo'
Groundbreaking in that Manila city mayor Arsenio H. Lacson was the first to use the campaign jingle through the use of the day's popular calypso and Cuban trend. The “Lacson Mambo” was said to have helped usher him into political seats in his 1951, 1955, and 1959 wins.
RAMON MAGSAYSAY'S 'Mambo Magsaysay'
Composed by Raul S. Manglapus, 1953's “Mambo Magsaysay” is now hailed as one of the most enduring presidential campaign jingles of our political history. It's also the first to push the envelope by using Taglish lyrics to great effect with the clarion “Our democracy will die kung wala si Magsaysay!” And, even in our post-ironic hipster world, you can still tap your feet to the infectious groove.
FERDINAND MARCOS'S 'Dahil Sa 'Yo'
The Martial Law years also seemed to be the battle of folk music and protest music, but before that, the 1965 presidential aspirant, then-Senator Ferdinand Marcos, was a campaign genius not only with the sheer force of his oratorical brilliance, but his mad branding skillz; imagine using your wife as a personal AVP machine? “Dahil sa Iyo (Because of You)” and later, the bathetic “Feelings” may be mondo sappy, but they're now forever synonymous to Pinoy ears with shoes and tyrants.
CORY'S 'Tie A Yellow Ribbon'
Though a complete import with no desire to Tagalize the lyrics, this humble, coaxing folk song by Irwin Levine and L. Russell Brown was never intended to be Cory's campaign jingle during the 1986 snap elections. Nevertheless, it became the soundtrack to Ninoy's return from a three-year exile in Boston, his martyrdom post-assassination, the rise of Tita Cory to commander-in-chief borne on the wings of destiny and melody, and, in the end, as a lament to her passing.
LETTY RAMOS SHAHANI'S 'Sha Sha Sha'
1987 was the occasion of the first free congressional elections in nearly 20 years, post-dictatorship. Ambassador Leticia Ramos Shahani brought back the spectacle of song and dance with “Sha sha sha, si Letty Ramos Sha.” A jingle so catchy her campaign people even managed to make the Comelec acquiesce to allowing the word “Sha” to count in the ballot. How's that for virtuoso branding application?
ERAP'S 'Sha la la la la' As silly as it is stupendously LSS catchy, this song was ripped from the equally inane discography of the Vengaboys. Joseph Estrada became president in 1998 on sheer charisma, movie star power, and this song. After the first chorus, I tapped out. No contest.
FPJ's 'Bagong Umaga'
Even in his 2004 campaign decision, the late, great Da King displayed good taste by choosing this soaring, ethnic music-daubed track performed by Bayang Barrios' grand pipes. A song finalist in the 1996 Metropop Music Festival, it never makes any overt calls to vote or gives up the ghost of subtlety. And it sure is a great song on its own.
RAUL ROCO'S 'Roco Rock', 'Bagong Pilipinas,' etc.
Former Senator Roco pushed the envelope of jingles even further by making several for his 2004 presidential bid, aimed at various market segments and their concerns. Thus “Iisang Bangka” and “High Hopes” are for parents who need to vote based on education (on Roco's platform list), while “Roco Rock” (to Queen's “We Will Rock You,” of course) was designed to sway the youth vote, and “Kaming mga Babae” was for women’s rights.
NOYNOY AQUINO'S 'S'ya Ang Pag-Asa, Wala Nang Iba'
Back when this song was playing in the 2010 campaign period, I remember asking a teen what he thought of President Noy's song. “He keeps mentioning his parents,” the young guy said. But the rap at the end of the speech is contemporary and catchy enough to have lent the current Prez a helping hand.
BRO. EDDIE VILLANUEVA'S 'Eddie Ako'
Only the preacher man has the distinction of scoring a 2010 presidential campaign jingle performed by Aris Pollisco—more popularly known as rapper Gloc-9, one of local hip-hop's superstars. Like many Gloc-9 songs, the jingle has rhymes that are catchy and requires a fast tongue to rap along to—though he already slowed down the beat to manageable levels. You can even see him rocking Bro. Eddie's colors.
MANNY VILLAR'S 'Naging Mahirap'
Now enshrined in pop culture as, likely, the 2010 campaign song most full of pathos, Villar's jingle continually harps on his past as “one of the poor” in gratuitous iterations and how he's the only one who understands real poverty. Bathe in rubbish, rinse, repeat. You can google versions and spoofs of this and watch all day.
Remember any memorable campaign jingles? Send us your fave ones. —KG, GMA News