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“Ili Ili, Tulog Anay” is a traditional lullaby from Iloilo in the Visayan region of the Philippine Islands. The text is originally in Illonggo (formally known as Hiligayon), which is a commonly spoken dialect in Iloilo. Generally sung by an older sister or female relative, this lullaby explains to the child that they should sleep as their mother is out buying bread. The melody is a beautiful song which captures Filipino familial values.


Sometime in the mid 2000s, the Ilonggo-set movie “White Lady” premiered. In this supernatural horror film, the main character has visions of a paranormal woman in white (the white lady) who sings the lullaby. The white lady continues to terrorize the main characters throughout the whole movie. Because of its use in this film, many people from my generation associate the lullaby with a sense of horror. My arrangement of the lullaby “plays” into the uncomfortable nature of the juxtaposition of a lullaby and a horror film through the augmentation of rhythm during the last iteration of the melody. Additionally, while traditionally in three, this arrangement begins in three and then continues in common time. Though it returns to the original waltz time, there is no resolution to the final chord, alluding to an unknown future for the child. When you listen, imagine that perhaps, the lullaby is sung by someone who is not a relative of the child, or even a person. 

Ili ili, tulog anay

Wala diri imo nanay.

Kadto tienda bakal papay.

Ili-ili tulog anay.

Mata ka na tabangan mo.

Ikarga ang nakompra ko.

Kay bug-at man sing putos ko.

Tabangan mo ako anay.

Sleep a while, little one

Your mother is not here.

She went to the store to buy bread.

Sleep a while, little one


You are awake, come and help.

Carry the things that I bought,

Because it is very heavy

Help me for a while, little one.

The final arrangement premiered at my Graduate II recital at Syracuse University, which you can listen to in the video above. If you would like a copy of my arrangement, or would like to perform it, please contact me here.

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