March 2, 2024

Bro. Leo Rosario is the composer of the popular religious songs “Psalm 63” and “Walang Hanggang Pasasalamat.” He is popularly known as Bro. Leo. He composed hundreds of songs since 1983. Most of them are being used in the churches, including non-Catholic groups.
It has been the dream of Bro. Leo to visit Bontoc, Mountain Province to pay respect to Bishop Cornelio Wigwigan.
Fr. Luther Dalang, the parish priest of Banaue, Ifugao, became instrumental in the realization of the dream. He tagged Bro. Leo to Bauko, Mountain Province. It was a dream come true for Bro. Leo to step on the soil of Mountain Province.
From Barangay Binaka, Fr. Luther planned to spend the night at Bishop Francisco F. Claver Pastoral Complex in Teng-ab, Bontoc.
It was 11 p.m. when sleep did not dawn on me due to severe headache. I went out of my room for a hot tea. I saw the clergy terrace with its light on so I put off but somebody at the terrace remarked, “Good evening father, may tao po dito. Pero okay lang po naka-off ang ilaw. Hindi ako makuha ang tulog ko kaya dito muna ako sa labas. Namamahay po. Ang ganda po ng view ng Bontoc.”
I was apologetic. I joined him to finish my cup of tea. The stranger did not introduce himself but he continued to narrate his joy having visited Mountain Province, especially Bontoc. He was so appreciative of Fr. Luther for being thoughtful to tag him along.
“Isa po akong katekista na kung saan-saan napapadpad na misyonaryo na rin. At through music po ako nakakatulong. Mahigit 300 songs na ang nagawa ko dahil sa panampalataya at dasal.”
When he started to tell the song “Psalm 63” then I started to have a hint that I was talking to Bro. Leo Rosario. Indeed, when he mentioned it as his original composition, I concluded that it was Bro. Leo. But I allowed him to just narrate his story. It was more than two hours of listening to a great composer. I did not introduce myself but he felt I was a priest.
“Nagawa ko ‘yung kanta in 1983 at si Fr. Cornelio Wigwigan ang pumilit sa akin na mag-join sa song writing composition sa San Pablo Seminary, Baguio City. Wala akong alam at hindi pa ako masyadong nag-gigitara that time. Kaya hesistant ako to join pero persistent pa rin si Fr. Cornelio. Si Fr. Cornelio ang director ng Catechetical Institute, kaya kailangan ang obedience. Nagawa ko ‘yung kantang ‘Psalm 63’ at nagustuhan ng mga organizers. In 1986, ni-record nina Fr. Feldkemper, SVD, ‘yung kanta ko at sinimulang tinutogtog sa DZWT hanggang naging popular na.”
I testify to the honest narration because I remember in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s until today, how we had been singing the song “Psalm 63” in the school, church, and seminary.
“Hindi ko inexpect na maging popular ‘yung kanta ko. From that time I wrote my first composition, maraming gumusto at maraming obispo at pari ang sumoporta.” I told myself, “Sana all.”
Then he went on to narrate his song “Walang Hanggang Pasasalamat”. He wrote the song during the height of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption where he was a witness of the destruction. While holding the spade to clean the ash falls, he did not see the disaster but instead he saw and experienced the mighty deeds of the Lord amidst the suffering and destruction. He kept thanking God that they were alive and for not abandoning them in their predicament.
The following morning, we met at the dining table and we saw each other in light and his narration continued. After sometime, we played his song together at the chapel. I did the guitar and vocals while he accompanied with his ukulele and harmonica. We recorded the song. He taught also his fresh composition. Perhaps, he did it when we were talking together. We had been singing and after that, we parted ways and we lived happily ever after.
Before leaving, he approached me and congratulated me for the Asia’s Humanitarian award. So even without introducing our names, we already felt and sense the names and our common mission as musicians.
The encounter inspired me to write two Advent songs.
Reach me at [email protected].