National Artist for Literature / Music (1997)
(April 30, 1910 – April 2, 2002)
Levi Celerio is a prolific lyricist and composer for decades. He effortlessly translated/wrote anew the lyrics to traditional melodies: “O Maliwanag Na Buwan” (Iloko), “Ako ay May Singsing” (Pampango), “Alibangbang” (Visaya) among others.
Born in Tondo, Celerio received his scholarship at the Academy of Music in Manila that made it possible for him to join the Manila Symphony Orchestra, becoming its youngest member. He made it to the Guinness Book of World Records as the only person able to make music using just a leaf.
A great number of his songs have been written for the local movies, which earned for him the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Film Academy of the Philippines. Levi Celerio, more importantly, has enriched the Philippine music for no less than two generations with a treasury of more than 4,000 songs in an idiom that has proven to appeal to all social classes.