There aren’t many songs that could make the entire population of Cebu sing and dance. The formula needed is bright plus festive, and only a handful of songs get it just right. A Cebuano anthem should be a lot of things but never boring. For instance, “I Love Cebu,” is almost like an anthem every Cebuano could belt out randomly at any time of the year.
Russel “Ching” Alegado, the brilliant mind behind this song, believes that the simple expression “I love Cebu” carries immense creative power, inspiring him to craft a masterpiece.
His lyrics serve as a sweet reminder to Cebuanos of the beauty of their homeland and the remarkable qualities of their community. Despite its timeless appeal, it may surprise many to learn that this song was actually created back in 2014 – yet, every time it plays, it feels as fresh as a new jam.
Chingkoy, as he is referred to by friends, kept it real when crafting “I Love Cebu.” Being a true-blue Cebuano hailing from the town of Carcar, he didn’t sweat the small stuff. No need for fancy lyrics — he knew the pride and vibe of Cebu speak for themselves. The song’s catchy, memorable and pride-inducing and just flowed naturally.
“It’s so simple, the song is easy to learn because of the beat is simple and the lyrics as well,” he said
And although “I Love Cebu” was a last-minute stroke of genius, Chingkoy tossed it still into the ring for the 34th Cebu Popular Music Festival in 2014. It snagged the grand prize for Best Upbeat/Dance category which he admitted that he whipped it up on the very day of the deadline.
“I saw a girl wearing the ‘I Love Cebu’ shirt on the street and I realized there’s not a song yet that has that title so I decided to make a song with that phrase and submitted it to the festival,” he said.
As the strains of “I Love Cebu” echo through the streets, plazas and gatherings, it sure does have a magnetic force, attracting individuals to sing and dance in the celebration.
Chingkoy feels the pride of hearing his song most especially during Sinulog where Cebu takes the center spotlight as one of the grandest and colorful festivals in the Philippines.
Ten years after he composed this masterpiece, “I Love Cebu” has been used for many tourism campaigns as well. It’s a cultural phenomenon at this point where the song has been a fixture in the collective consciousness of the Cebuanos.
“When the song plays, it automatically makes you think of Cebu as a paradise. So, I believe that way, it attracts tourists,” said Chingkoy.
Chingkoy said that the song is also a product of a collaborative spirit. The singers, Irene Abadiez for the demo, Raechelle Mae Faelnar, Rovee Marie Fernandez, Jem Keziah Felicilda and Fidel Cascabel for the final output lended their voices to the journey. The collaboration extends to Junjet Primor as well. Primor contributed dance steps, adding a layer of visual celebration to the auditory delight.
Over the past 23 years, Chingkoy, a seasoned composer, has built an impressive list of compositions. From the catchy “I Love Cebu” to the Sinulog 2020 theme, “One Beat One Dance,” his musical journey covers a wide range.
With hits like “Gugmang Maka” and memorable jingles such as “Kabkaban,” Chingkoy has won five Cebu Pop Music Festival titles and reached the finals 13 times. He’s also claimed eight spots in the Huniño lineup, winning the championship twice.
Additionally, his talent shines through in 10 entries for the Original Marian Song Festival. Beyond competitions, Chingkoy has crafted unforgettable jingles and theme songs for places like Lindogon Simala, showcasing his versatility and leaving a lasting impact in the music scene.
“Maybe 10-15 years from now, I’ll still be composing songs and serving as a musical arranger,” he envisioned.
Who would’ve thought a simple phrase could become so iconic? The words “I Love Cebu” carry a unique magic that just makes one want to dance to their feet. “I Love Cebu” is a heartfelt declaration that echoes through the streets, hills and hearts of Cebuanos for the many years to come. S