JOSEFINO CENIZAL

(Musical Scorer, Composer)


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Josefino Cenizal occupies a distinguished niche in Philippine music. While best remembered for his trademark composition Hindi Kita Malimot, and for the Christmas Carol Ang Pasko Ay Sumapit (lyrics by Levi Celerio), he has published and recorded over twenty songs (including 3 other Christmas carols) and another thirty unpublished pieces. In the rock and rhythm era of the OPM where Filipino Songs come and go like fad, Cenizal’s compositions belong to the classical genre. It is interesting to note that though most of his music was written for movies produced before war, his most popular songs endure to this day, re-interpreted by arrangers and artists according to the tempo and occasion of the time. For example, Hindi Kita Malimot has been cast in jazz, swing and romantic arrangements (for weddings and anniversaries)

Born on September 14, 1914 in Tanza, Cavite, Josefino Cenizal’s musical inclinations were strongly influenced by his mother, Rosario Ymson Cenizal. It was she who taught him the solfeggio and the violin, his first musical instrument, when he was a child.In his adolescences, Cenizal taught himself to play the banjo and was accepted into the Ilaya and ideal Orchestras as banjo player. At that time, the banjo was widely used to inject rhythm to contemporary music.

At 14, Cenizal took private piano lessons under Dr. Francisco Santiago who was then Director of the University of the Philippines Conservatory of Music. After six months, he was promoted to the 3rd year and to 4th year after another six months

Cenizal took Pre-Law at San Beda College and studied Law Proper at UP. While studying law, he continued his studies in piano and voice at the UP Conservatory of Music. Meanwhile, he sang and played the piano nightly over Radio KZRM and performed at the Bay View Hotel. During summer vacations, he worked in luxury liners, playing the piano and singing passengers cruising Southeast Asia and the North Americas. Later at seventeen, he formed an orchestra which played at the US Army-Navy Club.

In 1973, Cenizal began arranging and composing music for movies. Subsequently, he went into acting and movie directing, oftentimes singing his own compositions. In 1939, he wrote Hindi Kita Malimot for Del Monte Pictures movie Rosa Birhen, where he co-starred with Raymunda Guidote and which he also directed the said film.

Cenizal best describes his music as romantic folksy. Indeed, the majority of his works are love songs – “Hindi Kita Malimot”, “Bakit Mo Nilimot”, “Pagsamo”, “Agam-agam”, “Wala Kang Kapantay”, “Silayan Mo Ako”, “Tanging Pag-ibig”. He also has catchy balitaws – “Ang Paglalaba”, “Masagang Kabukiran”, “Amihan Sa Bukid”, etc.

Cenizal’s work can be categorized into two periods: early movie era spanning 1936 to the 1960’ and the “modern” 60’s up to the present. The first period consist mostly of classic Filipino love songs, usually themes written for the early movies. It was during this time that he wrote the music of “Ang Pasko Ay Sumapit” for the film while he was in Cebu. Years later, his good friend, Levi Celerio put Christmas lyrics into it transforming the song into Christmas carol. The 2nd period produced a wide variety of melodies, tempos and themes that reflected the current musical mindset. It contains unpublished inspirational pieces he wrote for his wife, Olivia Cenizal (a star in Filipino Cinema from 50’s to the 60’s) and daughter, Moppet in the 60’s and 70’s. He wrote songs for organization like the Rotary and the Lion’s Clubs, for the feast day of St. Paul’s Church and St. Agustine’s in Tanza. He rehashed two earlier movie themes and turned them into the Christmas carols, “Simbang Gabi” and “Noche Buena” which was sung by the Mabuhay Singers in the 70’s. In the 80’s he recorded “Pobre” a very catchy and jazzy song about travails of the overseas worker. In 1993, saw an explosion of new compositions and updated, jazzy renditions of earlier works as he collaborated with Dr. Demetrio Quirino in producing two cassette tapes. Among the artists who interpreted this songs were Ayen Munji, his wife, Olivia and Ruth Abao. In 1995, he wrote yet another Christmas carol, which was interpreted by Diomedez Maturan. In a departure from the typical cheery Yuletide melodies, “Nasaan Ka?” captures the soulful longing of lovers separated from each other on Christmas, an experienced shared by thousand of overseas Filipino and their families.

In his youth, Cenizal was an active athlete. He was a member of UP Boxing team and would have joined the Olympic (flyweight) team but was advised by his mother to withdraw. In the 1950’s he and Segio Osmeña Sr. were pingpong buddies who played at different tournaments in Luzon. He took up golf in the 60’s and became rather good at it, accumulating over 50 trophies from tournaments.

In 1993, Cenizal retired from Capitol Hills Golf & Country Club as Vice President and General Manager. He remains active in the music world. He is on the Board of Trustees of Mowelfund, a Board of Governor in Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP), Board Member of Filipino Society of Composers and Publishers (FILSCAP), and President of the United Directors Association of the Philippines (UFIMDAP).

Cenizal is constantly immersed in music. He weaves elaborate love songs, taps out playful nursery tunes for his grandchildren or for a new Ilocano ditty, or simply plays the Beatles’ Yesterday”. His own original output has always been very Filipino-romantic, whimsical and sentimental.

He is presently Board of Director-Consultant of Capitol hills Golf and Country Club.



PROFESSIONAL & CORPORATE ACTIVITIES

President – United Film Music Directors of the Philippines (UFIMDAP)
Vice-President – Filipino Society of Composers and Publishers (FILSCAP)
Board of Governors – Film Academy of the Philippines (FAP)
Board of Trustees – Movie Workers Welfare Foundation (MOWELFUND)
Honorary Member – Damayan Lion’s Club
Honorary Member – Rotary Club (San Miguel, Manila – 1971 to 1985)
Vice President & General Manager – Capitol Hills Golf and Country Club

AWARDS & CITATIONS

Multi-Awarded Composer – Knights of Columbus , Knights of Rizal
Most Outstanding Citizen (Tanza, Cavite)
Araw ng Maynila Awardee (Composer – 1988)
Awards of Appreciation & Recognition (Rotary Club – San Miguel, Manila)