Faces of Cebu Life!

FACES OF CEBU: Danica Caballes, original voice behind ‘Daghang Salamat, O Santo Niño’

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Every January during the Sinulog celebration, devotees of Señor Sto. Nino collectively sing along to a song entitled “Daghang Salamat, O Santo Niño,” to praise the patron and show their gratitude for the blessings they received.

But do you know the voice behind the song? It is Danica Caballes.

Danica Caballes

Danica Caballes, the original singer of  “Daghang Salamat O, Santo Niño.” | Contributed photo

Caballes, a woman of many talents, is the original singer of “Daghang Salamat, O Santo Niño.”

Composed by Emmanuel Abellana, the song placed second during the Huniño songwriting competition back in 2008.

Over the years, it has become one of the most memorable songs written to honor the miraculous image of Señor Sto. Niño during the Sinulog month of January.

Danica Caballes: How she was discovered

And after almost 16 years, Caballes, 27, looks back and shares how her experience in performing the song for the first time has changed her life for the better.

Caballes was only 12-years-old when the opportunity came knocking on her door through the head of a choir she was a part of.

Her musical talent was discovered when she sang as a member of the choir of the San Isidro Parish Church in Talamban, Cebu City.

As a child eager to build her dream singing career, the young Caballes bravely took up the challenge despite the pressure.

young Danica Caballes

12-year-old Danica Caballes performs “Daghang Salamat, O Santo Niño” on stage. | Screenshot from contributed video

Since she was 5-years-old, Caballes has been showcasing her talent to anyone willing to lend an ear.

After realizing that she was blessed with a lovely voice, she wasted no time in training and working to nurture her God-given talent.

With the support of her parents, she excitedly joined various singing competitions to expand her career.

Because of this, Caballes felt no fear in interpreting the religious song in front of thousands of people.

On faith and music

She shared that the pressure was overshadowed by her love for the song and desire to execute the song she believed to be a winning piece perfectly.

Fortunately, her efforts paid off and multiple doors opened for the passionate young singer.

Despite being young at the time, Caballes revealed that the song made her more faithful as she was growing up.

Being the original interpreter of such a significant song has been meaningful for her and her family of devotees.

Just like how the song has become a part of Sinulog, it also greatly influenced her own religious beliefs.

“For me, a thanksgiving song or thanksgiving prayer is one of the powerful prayers. Before you ask something from Sto. Niño, it’s very important that we show our praises and being grateful for all of the things that he have given to the people and to the devotees.” 

“It’s a constant reminder for everyone to be grateful that Señor Sto. Niño always gives us hope, especially in times of struggle. He’ll always be there for us. And that is why it’s also important na we sing praises to him every Sinulog,” Caballes added.

In all the ups and downs in her life, Caballes found solace in the song and treated it as a prayer.

Expression of love for Señor Sto. Niño

When she temporarily stopped singing to focus on her journey in law school, this was the song that reminded her that there is still so much to be grateful for.

“I feel really honored to be the original singer of this song Daghang salamat Senyor Sto. Niño which has touched so many hearts, so many lives,” she stated.

With her special connection with Sinulog through the song, Caballes shared that the festival’s true meaning is the expression of love for Señor Sto. Niño.

“Because it would be more meaningful to celebrate Sinulog it people would understand in a deeper level how important it is to go to mass and to find it as an opportunity to bond with him. Perhaps communicate with him through prayer. And remind themselves that there is hope,” she said.

And for this year’s Sinulog, she is looking forward to attend the novena masses and solemn procession.

Years after performing the song for the first time, Caballes has come a long way and successfully achieved her ambitions in life.

The 27-year-old Caballes passed the Bar examinations, became a lawyer, and pursued her passion for journalism.

Yet no matter how many years have passed, singing still claims a special spot in her heart.

So despite her packed schedule, she returns to her childhood dream of being a good singer.

“I came back to singing because that’s what I promised to God pud at that time nga I was praying na makapasar. Will come back to singing because I miss singing. It’s part of me,” she said.

She added that she will always find time to do what she loves and perform for the people who appreciate her talents.

Caballes performance

With an unwavering passion for singing, Caballes is ready to take her singing career to higher levels in the year 2024. | Contributed photo

Caballes to aspiring singers

As another year begins, she is more determined than ever to show the world what she can do.

While she continues reaching for greater heights, Caballes advises youngsters to be passionate with their craft.

She encourages singers to be brave and grab every opportunity that comes their way.

“For all the aspiring singers, do not be afraid in exposing your talent…Grab all opportunities to sing. Do not be afraid. Just believe in yourself. And most especially, enjoy what you’re doing…So padayon lang gyud and do not e afraid in taking chances.” 

Furthermore, she advised them to always pray for guidance as they chase their dreams.

With Sinulog Festival only a few days away, Caballes is looking forward to attend the novena masses and solemn procession, as well as witness the cultural presentations.

And of course, she is always willing to perform the beloved “Daghang Salamat, O Santo Niño,” for devotees.

The singer expressed that she will be more than happy to do so hoping that it becomes a part of more people’s journey to building a relationship with Señor Sto. Niño.


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