From Cebu, a curious hybrid: songs, spoken word and a novel  all in one

If the Philippines seems to be the only country that holds concerts that flow from the storylines of short sentimental films, it now also seems to be the only country that has an album of songs and spoken words integrated into a novel.

The concert-film concept was seen in the Wish Date series of KDR Music House whose latest staging at the Araneta Coliseum we wrote about just a few days ago.

The album-within-a-novel event was launched for the second time in Diliman, Quezon City, featuring the e-book Girl With a Broken String. Its first launch was in Cebu City in June this year. The launch had to be in the Queen City of the South simply because the talented and creative people that generated the e-book are Cebuanos.

Composer-musical director
-producer Jude Gitamondoc and writer-actor Therese Villarante are the primary creative forces. Villarante was a student of Gitamondoc in the
music-making workshops he conducts seasonally.

Now in his late 40s (but looking boyish), Gitamondoc is a dropout from the University of the Philippines’ Conservatory of Music. He said his musical backbone was formed not at the state university but at the Don Bosco seminary under the tutelage of priest-formators there.

Music career

Gitamondoc began his professional music career in 2001 when he was in his 20s. He was commissioned to compose commercial jingles (such as for Casino Rubbing Alcohol, Happy Booster Hotdogs), theme songs (Mantawi Festival theme song), school hymns and wedding songs.

His first big break in mainstream pop was through Gary Valenciano’s Relevance album in 2006, to which he contributed five songs: “Kailan Pa,” “Only a Friend,” “Sana Bukas,” “Wait Forever and “In Another Lifetime.”


Jude Gitamondoc (photograph courtesy of IG/Jude Gitamondoc)


His seminary training also somehow caught up with him. He was tasked in 2007 to write both the libretto and the songs for an English musical on the life of the Buddha called Siddhartha: A Musical Journey to Enlightenment based on the works of Hsing Yun, founder of the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Order. It was first staged at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel & Casino. Later, in 2017, the musical was staged in Manila, Iloilo, Bacolod, Taiwan, USA, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Macau, New Zealand and Japan.

In 2008, he composed for Song of Bernadette: A Musical of Our Lady of Lourdes Story, mounted first at SM City Cebu Cinema, then restaged in February 2017 and February 2018 at SM Seaside Cebu City for the 160th anniversary of the Lourdes apparitions.

Also in 2008, he wrote and produced original songs for Zephyrin, The Musicale, depicting the life of Blessed Ceferino Namuncurá in 18th-century Argentina.

In 2013, he began to be involved in secular musicals. He the became musical director and composer for the romantic comedy You’ve been Facebooked, staged in Cebu City.

In 2015, Gitamondoc wrote with Rowell Ucat the Visayan musical Gugmang Giatay, staged at CAP Theater Cebu, SM Seaside City Cebu, Waterfront Cebu City Hotel and Casino in Lahug. In 2017, the musical, a romantic comedy entirely in Bisaya, gave Gitamondoc a chance to be heard in Metro Manila when it was presented for some weekends at the BGC Arts Center. A broadsheet honored Gugmang Giatay as the Best Musical for that year.


As Cebu’s premier musical director, Gitamondoc was certainly a shoo-in for the breakthrough creation of the first e-book novel with an organically integrated album.

He and Villarante started working on the project as far back as 2014 when they wrote Song on a Broken String, which became a finalist in that year’s Philpop songwriting contest, a project of the Organisasyon ng Pilipinong Mang-aawit.

Villarante went on to run a blog, which the two then decided to turn into a multimedia novel that has songs, illustrations and animations sprouting amid the text of the book.

It took all of nine years for Villarante’s blog musings to evolve into the unique and curious literary-entertainment project that is now Girl With a Broken String.