From left to right: Grand prize winner for song “Pangarap” Edwin Dimaculangan; Second prize winner for song “Miss”
Anthony “TJ” Paeldon; and Third prize winners for song “Bayaning World-class”, M&M duo Dr. Hemmady Mora
and son Ian Levi Mora

At the turn of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas’ 41st year on June 16, 2021, the first-ever songwriting competition about Filipino migration overseas was launched. Dubbed Himigrasyon, the songfest was primarily meant to serve as a tribute to the sacrifices and important contributions of that “ONE” community of an estimated 10 million Filipinos overseas to their host countries and Philippine development, especially during this time of a global pandemic.

It also aimed to make music an advocacy tool to raise public awareness of the challenging yet inspiring life of our overseas Filipinos and the issues they face throughout their migration journey.

Out of 326 entries from 26 countries worldwide received by the Commission at the close of submissions, the top 20 were shortlisted by the first-level panel of judges composed of Mr. Timothy Loi M. Sosmeña of the UST Conservatory’s Composition and Music Technology Faculty, Executive Director Ellene Sana of the Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA), and Acting Executive Director Atty. Wendell Dimaculangan of the CFO.

The top 20 was further shortlisted for the top 5 and ranked accordingly to determine the top 3 winners by a second-level panel of judges composed of the initial 3 judges with the addition of Dr. Felipe de Leon, Jr., Director for the National Committee on Music of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), Ms. Odette Felisilda from the Wyngard Tracey (Talent) Management Team, and Justice Francisco Acosta, Secretary and Chairperson of the CFO.

To maintain impartiality, the members of the panel of judges were only provided with the entry numbers, song titles, mp3 files, and lyrics of the song entries throughout the entire screening process.

After 3 intensive screening and judging sessions, the third place goes to the song “Bayaning World-class”, with music by Ian Levi Mora and lyrics by his mother, Dr. Hemmady Mora. The song pays tribute to the overseas Filipino/Filipina hailed as a hero in the song for accepting all labor migration challenges–from fitting in and making cultural adjustments to overcoming feelings of loneliness from leaving their homes and families. Branded as “world-class”, their skills and craft are also celebrated in the song have earned the respect and admiration of their employers across the globe.

Ian is currently in his third year at the UST Conservatory, with the violin as his instrument. He is also a member of the UST Symphony Orchestra (USTSO) and the Manila Symphony Junior Orchestra (MSJO). Ian’s mom, Hemmady, is presently the Dean of the College of Communication (COC) of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP). Mother and son both sing and dabble in songwriting as a hobby.

Second place goes to the song “Miss”, by Anthony “TJ” Paeldon. It’s about his struggle of missing his loved ones while in Singapore as an OFW musician/pianist, who doubled as a waiter at a Japanese restaurant after his band’s gig, then wore a third hat as a janitor for the same restaurant at closing time.

TJ was in Singapore from September 2019 till March 2020, just before the lockdowns started in the Philippines upon the onset of the pandemic. He says that many musicians in his time in Singapore were sidelined as waiters or other hired help at the restaurants. Back home in the Philippines, TJ and his band play at weddings and special events that require live music.

“My song is a sad one hiding behind a jolly melody and arrangement,” said TJ in a recent chat interview with the Commission.

And finally, the grand prize… goes to the song “Pangarap”, by Edwin Dimaculangan. Inspired by the labor migration story of his wife, Susie, “Pangarap” is about a child’s dream to work abroad when she grows up so she can take her family out of poverty. She prepared herself academically and acquired various skills that she needed in working abroad. While working abroad, she experienced a lot of challenges and difficulties and made sacrifices but she was able to overcome them; she succeeded and fulfilled her dream for her family with God’s help.

Edwin, whose family hails from Batangas but grew up in Manila, was a certified public accountant (CPA) here in the country but now works as a Financial Specialist at the County of Los Angeles, California, USA. His wife Susie is a CPA both in the Philippines and in California, who is currently a Senior Auditor at the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Edwin’s song “Mahirap Gumawa ng Kanta” was one of 12 finalists in the Bombo Music Festival 2020 in the Philippines. Their only child, Angel, has already completed her college degree.

Each of the winners will take home the following tax-free cash prizes:

• First Place – P100,000.00
• Second Place – P75,000.00
• Third Place – P50,000.00

Winners of the first-ever Himigrasyon Songwriting Contest will be honored by the CFO in a blended ceremony in January 2022 with CFO Secretary Francisco P. Acosta presiding.
The CFO would also like to thank and congratulate all the participants who showed their true passion and poured their hearts out in writing their entries.


For more information on the 2021 Himigrasyon Song Writing Contest, please contact the Secretariat at telephone numbers +632 8-552-4766 to 767 and email