Levi Celerio, 91, a Filipino composer and lyricist who was designated a Philippine national artist, died Tuesday in Quezon City after a bout with emphysema.
Celerio gained fame through writing lyrics for more than 4,000 Filipino folk, Christmas and love songs, including many that became popular movie titles.
He was awarded the title of national artist for music and literature in 1997 by then-President Fidel Ramos, who cited the prolific lyricist and composer for writing music “that was a perfect embodiment of the heartfelt sentiments and valued traditions of the Filipino.”
Born in Manila, Celerio began playing violin at age 11 and studied at the University of the Philippines College of Music. He turned to songwriting after breaking his wrist in a fall.
Manila newspapers reported that Celerio gained international recognition for an unusual feat: being able to play music on a leaf.