Saturday, February 16, 2013

Some Borromeo Lou compositions

17 Feb 2013

            Along with the numerous recordings I’ve been able to access from National Jukebox (as I wrote about here), I’ve found hundreds of pieces of sheet music from 1920’s Manila. Many are by Filipino composers but there are also numerous U.S.-published pieces that were for sale in one of Manila’s many music stores.
            I’ve recorded a few of these just for my own interest. Pianos are hard to come by here, and I’ve only been able to access a piano for one hour per week at most. During that hour, though, I’ve done a quick run-through of some pieces and then tried to piece together very sloppy recordings. These pieces are played a bit too slowly and include a number of wrong notes. Also, I’m leaving out the singing, which would be a very important part of the performance. I’ll post a few of the recordings I’ve made below, starting with some compositions by Borromeo Lou.  

Borromeo Lou was an entertainer from a very prominent family from Cebu. He worked the vaudeville circuit in the U.S. during the late 1910s and returned to the Philippines in late 1921. Since he was knowledgeable of many of the latest U.S. trends and fashions, he was in high demand in Manila (there were several other Filipino entertainers who have similar stories of bringing back the latest hits from the U.S.). Borromeo Lou led his own vaudeville troupe that eventually became based at the Olympic Stadium, across the street from Bilibid prison and better known as a venue for boxing matches. He also went on yearly tours through the Philippines, sometimes scandalizing provincial towns with his performers’ short dresses and new dance moves. He composed a number of pieces that were published in the U.S. and the Philippines. There are apparently commercial recordings of some of his pieces but I haven’t been able to locate them.

This was one of Borromeo Lou’s first published pieces, composed in the U.S. The lyrics are by an American and, like many Manila-themed popular songs of the time, tell the story of an American sailor pining for his Filipina love in the Philippines. 

Another piece composed in the U.S. This was typical of the Oriental-themed popular songs that were quite numerous and popular

I found a copy of this in the UP Music Library that lacks a cover so I have less information about this piece. It switches from a waltz to a fox-trot. 

(partial recording)
This is a piece from his 1922 show, but was published through an American company. I only was able to record the first part of the song here. 


  1. Hi Fritz and Grace!

    Good day! This is Sam, Publications Supervisor of the CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art, and I am writing to ask for the permission to publish your photos of Lou Borromeo's My Beautiful Philippines and Jazzy Sound in all Chinatown.

    The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) is a government institution established to develop, preserve, and promote arts and culture in the Philippines. One of its noteworthy projects is the CCP Encyclopedia of Philippine Art (1994), which is the main sourcebook for Philippine arts and artists for more than two decades now. It consists of volumes about Peoples of the Philippines and their art and culture, Architecture, Visual Arts, Film, Literature, Music, Theatre, and Dance.

    Considering the profound changes and developments in Philippine arts in the past 20 years, it has now become necessary to update and expand the original publication with new data from all fields.

    We are currently gathering information for inclusion in the print and digital versions of the encyclopedia, and we would like to ask for your assistance. Lou Borromeo's My Beautiful Philippines and Jazzy Sound in all Chinatown is mentioned in the Music Volume. We would like to know if you are willing to let us publish your photo (with proper citation) for the Encyclopedia.

    Thank you and hope to hear from you soon

    1. Hi Sam,
      That would be ok with me.

  2. This is a great article! Thats my great grandfather! Its awesome to find articles about his life and music!

  3. Hello! I'm not sure if you check this, but I'm very interested in hearing the recordings, and getting copies of the sheet music for a filipino jazz project I am putting together. Please contact me at