21 Of The Greatest and Most Famous Filipino Singers Of All Time

Written by Dan Farrant

The Philippines have produced some of the best singers, actors, and music producers of our time, but they aren’t always as well-known as singers from other countries. You might not know that some of the singers you love are Filipino. 

The most famous Filipino singers include people like Lea Salonga, Regine Velasquez, and Gary V. Ranging from opera to rock, these singers have risen to fame from their roots in the Philippines. 

Without further ado, here are some of the greatest and most famous Filipino singers of all time.

1. Lea Salonga

Maria Lea Carmen Imutan Salonga, professionally known as Lea Salonga, is one of the most famous theater and stage actresses on Broadway.

Born in Manila in 1971, Salonga grew up in the Philippines and was on stage throughout her early childhood. She recorded her first album at age ten and was the first Filipino to sign on with an international record label at age 22.

She has been a Broadway legend since starring in Miss Saigon on the West End in 1991. At only 20 years old, she won a Tony award for her performance. 

Although most of her career has been in musical theater, her albums were a hit too. Some of her notable songs and covers include “Afraid For Love To Fade,” “Bakit Labis Kitang Mahal,” and “I Remember The Boy.”

Salonga has performed for over four decades in several movies, TV shows, and musicals, including Les Miserables. She also provided the singing voice for two separate Disney princesses, Jasmine and Mulan.

A woman of many talents, Salonga remains to be active in the music industry up to this day, alongside her stint as a regular columnist for one of the biggest newspapers in the country, the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

2. Regine Velasquez

No list of famous Filipino singers is complete without Asia’s Songbird Regine Velasquez. A staple of Filipino culture and television, she rose to prominence by winning the Asia Pacific Singing Contest in 1989. 

Since then, Regine has released over 17 studio albums, 15 compilation albums, eight soundtrack albums, five extended plays (EPs), and one live album. Some of her most popular songs include “Kung Maibabalik Ko Lang,” “Love Me Again,” and “Dadalhin.”

She has made guest appearances on multiple television shows and provided soundtracks for movies, TV, and concerts throughout her three-decade career. These include starring in the 1986 film Do Re Mi and the 2004 TV series Forever In My Heart and hosting reality TV shows like Star For A Night.

She is one of the few Filipino singers to have a star on the Filipino Walk Of Fame and continues to perform in the music industry up to this day. Her enduring legacy can be seen in her influence on many of the other younger singers and performers on this list, such as Kyla and KZ Tandingan.

3. Jose Mari Chan

One of the most beloved singers in the Philippines, Jose Mari Chan, is best known for his holiday song “Christmas In Our Hearts,” which has become a timeless anthem for the Yuletide season. The immense popularity of the song also earned him the moniker “King Of Filipino Christmas Carols.”

Beyond his holiday repertoire, Jose Mari Chan has earned the esteemed title of being one of the pillars of original Filipino music (OPM). Throughout his illustrious career, he has gifted us with a number of romantic ballads, including “Beautiful Girl,” “Deep In My Heart,” and “A Love To Last A Lifetime.”

Throughout his illustrious career, Chan earned numerous accolades and recognitions, including the Dr. Jose P. Rizal Award For Excellence and a Lifetime Achievement Award from both the Metro Pop Foundation and the Philippine Association of the Recording Industry.

Aside from his musical career, Chan is also an accomplished entrepreneur. As a member of one of the prominent families in the Philippine sugar industry, he has embraced his heritage and actively participated in managing the family-owned sugar plantations and mills.

4. Gary Valenciano

Edgardo Jose Santiago Valenciano, more popularly known as Gary V, is one of the most dynamic Filipino performers and TV personalities up to this day.

He began his career in 1982 at the age of 18, debuting as a singer in the TV program The Pilita And Jackie Show. He quickly rose to fame and had his first solo concert in 1984.

He is best known for his energetic performances during his concerts, thus earning him the nickname “Mr. Pure Energy.” His stamina is all the more admirable, as Valenciano has been living with Type 1 Diabetes since his early teenage years.

He has released almost 40 albums throughout his three-decade career. Valenciano has also won the Awit Award for best male performer 12 separate times. He has also starred in several movies, such as the 1984 film Hotshots, and as a host for the reality TV show The X Factor Philippines, among many others.

Some of his most popular songs include “The Warrior Is A Child,” “Pasko Na, Sinta Ko,” and “Kailangan Kita.” His song “When I Hear You Call” has also garnered several accolades, including Best Performance by a Male Recording Artist and Best Musical Arrangement.

5. Sharon Cuneta

A household name in the Philippines, Sharon Cuneta is among the most successful artists in the Philippine entertainment industry, earning her the moniker “Megastar.”

Born in 1966, she had an early start in the industry at only age 12, releasing classic hits like “Mr. DJ” and “High School Life.” Her popularity soared when she dabbled into acting, with one of her most successful movies being Bituing Walang Ningnging. She also sang the soundtrack of the same name.

Her acting career was also as successful as her music career. It was in the 1980s that Cuneta released back-to-back box office hits, and she was considered the pioneering “Queen Of Viva Films.”

Aside from singing and acting in films, Cuneta is also an accomplished TV host, engaging fans with her charm and perky personality. She has hosted several programs, including the top-rating variety show ASAP and her own talk show Sharon.

As a testament to her versatility, Cuneta also ventured into business and real estate enterprise alongside her politician husband Francis Pangilinan. She also has a talent for writing, releasing her lifestyle magazine Sharon At Home, where she serves as the editor-in-chief.

6. Sarah Geronimo

Sarah Asher Tua Geronimo, known simply as Sarah Geronimo, is currently one of the most-streamed Filipina singers.

Born in Manila in 1988, Geronimo rose to fame in 2002 after winning the local singing contest Star For A Night. Through that competition, she earned a recording contract with Viva Records.

A year later, Geronimo released her debut album Popstar: A Dream Come True, and it quickly became a success, featuring some of her popular songs, “Forever’s Not Enough” and “Sa Iyo.”

Since then, she went on to have a career in acting and in TV hosting and endorsing. She has starred as the main female lead in the remake of the South Korean film Miss Granny and the 2015 Filipino movie The Breakup Playlist, where she was a Movie Actress Of The Year nominee.

The accompanying soundtrack album, The Breakup Playlist, together with local actor Piolo Pascual, made it into 9th place on the Billboard World Albums. Gaining momentum, her single “Tala” placed 12th on the Billboard World Digital Song Sales in 2020, and it even became a dance craze.

7. Rachelle Ann Go

First rising to fame as the Grand Champion of the 2004 reality TV show Search For A Star, Rachelle Ann Go is one of the most accomplished Filipina singers in modern times, taking her talents to Broadway during her later career.

After her victory in Search For A Star, Go’s career took off at a rapid pace. She signed with Viva Artists Agency and Viva Records, two major players in the Philippine entertainment industry, which allowed her to pursue both her singing and acting aspirations.

Apart from her solo career, Go also gained recognition through her participation in various musical theater productions in the Philippines, Broadway, and London’s West End.

Some of her most notable roles are Ariel in the Philippine staging of Disney’s The Little Mermaid; Eliza Hamilton and Fantine in the West End productions of Hamilton and Les Misérables, respectively; and Gigi Van Tranh in the West End revival of Miss Saigon.

Her achievements both as a local and international singer have earned her recognition. She won Best Actress In A New Production Of A Musical in the 2018 BroadwayWorld UK Awards and Best Performance Of A Song 2016 for her performance in Les Misérables, among many others.

8. Pilita Corrales

Asia’s Queen of Songs, Pilita Corrales, hails from Cebu City, a place in the Philippines known for producing some of the country’s most iconic singers. She is one of the most prolific singers of her generation, and her music has become a part of Filipino culture that spans over six decades.

From traditional folk songs to pop hits, Corrales has sung it all and inspired generations with her soulful voice and powerful vocal range. She is known for her signature back bend when she belts out a high note.

She is regarded as one of the first “superstars” in the Philippine entertainment industry, with hits like “Kapantay Ay Langit,” “Matud Nila,” and “Usahay.” Her popularity has also reached an international level, and she has performed alongside other iconic artists like The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, and Bob Hope.

Some of her songs also topped the Australian music charts in the late ’50s and early ’60s. In fact, a street was named after her in Australia to honor her legacy as one of the pioneering female singers in the early Australian music scene.

9. Arnel Pineda

Born in Manila in 1967, Arnel Pineda rose to prominence in the Philippines in the 1980s. At age 15, he and his band Ijos won several local, national, and finally, international competitions, shooting him into stardom being the lead singer. 

After several different bands and iterations of fame, Pineda was contacted by American rock band Journey and asked to audition. Since 2007, Pineda has been the new lead singer of Journey since Steve Perry left the band.

His distinctive voice brought new energy and life to Journey’s classic hits. He quickly gained admiration from Journey fans worldwide for his ability to replicate the band’s iconic sound while adding his own flair to the performances.

Aside from his popularity with Journey, Pineda also has a solo singing career prior to joining the band. His debut album in 1999, Arnel Pineda, was a huge success, featuring some of his notable songs “Sayang” and “Iiyak Ka Rin.”

His life story was so remarkable that it even inspired a documentary film titled Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey. The film, released in 2012, chronicles Pineda’s journey from humble beginnings in the Philippines to his rise to fame with one of the most iconic rock bands in the world.

10. Francis Magalona

The Philippine King Of Rap, Francis M, was born Francis Michael “Kiko” Durango Magalona. He is one of the few Filipino artists who heralded the local rap and hip-hop scene in the country, earning him the monikers “The Mouth” and “Master Rapper.”

He began his career in the entertainment industry in the 1980s as a breakdancer. He was subsequently cast in the youth-oriented film Bagets 2, which boosted his popularity even further. He is also coincidentally the second cousin of esteemed singer Regine Velasquez.

Not soon after, Francis M released his self-titled debut album in 1989. It wasn’t a year later that his fame rose to greater heights with his second album, Yo!, which was the first Filipino rap album that was commercially released.

One of the tracks of Yo! is the song “Mga Kababayan,” which became an instant hit. Francis M was unabashed in his approach to his lyricism, creating thought-provoking songs like “Tayo’y Mga Pinoy,” which was about the rampant colonial mentality, and “Halalan,” which criticized the country’s political instability.

Unfortunately, Francis M’s life was cut short in 2009 after battling acute myeloid leukemia. He was only 44.

11. Jaya

Born Maria Luisa Ramsey-Gotidoc in 1970, the Queen Of Soul is popularly known as Jaya. She entered the entertainment industry in the US at the young age of 10 as a backup dancer and backup singer for her mother, Elizabeth, who was also a singer and performer.

Using the stage name Louise Ramsey, Jaya often performed solo in various performances in California alongside other overseas Filipinos. During her high school years, she landed a stint as a backup singer for Stevie B, eventually rebranding her stage name to “Jaya” at the urging of Stevie B’s label.

In 1995, Jaya was scouted by Pilita Corrales to do an opening act for Corrales’ performance in the US. This was a turning point in her career, leading Jaya to return to her roots in the Philippines and eventually signing a record deal.

With Jaya’s distinctive low voice and impressive vocal range, she was quickly recognized as a rising star in the Philippine music industry. Her hit songs “Sometimes You Just Know,” “Dahil Tanging Ikaw,” and “Dito Sa Puso Ko” earned awards and much critical acclaim.

12. Kuh Ledesma

Fondly nicknamed “Kuh,” which soon became her stage name, Maria Socorro Hashim Ledesma is one of the most notable divas in Philippine music history. Dubbed the “OPM Pop Chanteuse,” Kuh is known for her distinct high-octave vocals and her powerful stage presence.

Coming from a long line of influential family members, Kuh decided to carve her own path in the music industry by joining a local band during her college years. After earning her degree, she and a couple of her bandmates traveled to the Philippine capital to form their seminal band, Music and Magic.

It was not long after that Kuh pursued a solo career and signed with a major record label in the early ’80s. Her self-titled debut album became an instant hit, catapulting her to stardom. Following the success of her debut album, Kuh quickly became one of the most sought-after performers in the country.

She has also sung for several memorable commercial jingles, such as milk brand NIDO’s “Tunay Na Ligaya,” the Department Of Health’s “Sa Health Center, Suportado Ka,” and Banco Filipino’s “Pilipino Ako.”

13. Lani Misalucha

Asia’s Nightingale, Lani Misalucha, was born Lani Dimalanta Bayot. Although coming from a family of known musical artists, she opted to use her marital surname as her stage name.

Growing up in a household filled with music, Misalucha became proficient in different singing styles, including pop, rock, jazz, opera, and soul. Her versatility and exceptional vocal range were the reasons she was dubbed Asia’s Nightingale and, upon moving to Las Vegas in 2002, New Siren Of The Strip.

Misalucha had her start in the spotlight when she joined the Metro Manila Pop Musical Festival in 1990, where she was a finalist with her rendition of “Ang Iibigin Ay Ikaw.” It wasn’t until seven years later that she released her debut album, More Than I Should, which became the springboard for her career.

She continued releasing more albums and performing in several TV shows and music awards until she landed a residency in Las Vegas. There, she headlined with some of the most popular music groups and became the first Asian to do so—an esteemed achievement that cemented her place in the music industry.

14. Bamboo Mañalac

Known as The Vocal Rock Maestro and The Prince of Philippine Rock, Francisco Gaudencio Lope Belardo Mañalac is also know as Bamboo. He began his career in the early ’90s as the frontman of the alternative rock band Rivermaya.

His distinctive voice and charismatic stage presence quickly catapulted Rivermaya to fame, making them one of the most prominent bands in the Philippine music scene during that era.

Being of Filipino-American roots, Mañalac decided to leave the band in 1998 and be closer to his family, who was living in San Francisco, California. He also pursued his college degree there.

He returned to the Philippines four years later and formed his own alternative rock band, eponymously called Bamboo. With Mañalac taking the helm, the band soared to new heights, spurring hits like “Tatsulok” and “Noypi.”

Mañalac soon pursued a solo career, and in 2011, he released his debut solo album No Water, No Moon. His journey beyond the band has also led him to become one of the well-loved judges of the Philippine version of The Voice.

15. Freddie Aguilar

Ferdinand Pascual Aguilar, or Ka Freddie Aguilar (often shortened to Ka Freddie) is considered one of the most influential and best singer-songwriters in the Philippines. As such, he is also regarded as among the pillars of OPM and pioneers of Pinoy Rock.

In the mid-1970s, he rose to prominence with his debut album Anak, featuring the title song of the same name, which became a massive hit not just in the Philippines but also internationally. “Anak” is also considered the best-selling OPM song of all time.

In the late 1980s, at a time of great political unrest and oppression, Freddie’s rendition of the patriotic song “Bayan Ko” became a protest anthem for the People Power Revolution.

As the years went by, Ka Freddie continued to produce hit after hit, exploring various genres and experimenting with different musical styles. He blended elements of folk, rock, and traditional Filipino music, creating a unique sound that resonated with the masses.

To this day, Freddie remains to be relevant not just in the music industry but also in the political scene. In 2019, he ran as an independent candidate for the senatorial seat, showcasing his passion for advocating change. He, however, lost the election.

16. Ice Seguerra

Cariza Seguerra was born in the Philippines and started his performance career early, participating in beauty pageants for kids and singing competitions throughout his childhood.

He actually first appeared as a contestant in a local TV show contest Little Miss Philippines when she was only three years old. Her quippy remarks and cute persona quickly earned the love of the masses, and she eventually became a host of the show for over ten years.

As a child singer and actress, he was known as “Aiza.” But after coming out as a lesbian in 2007 and as a transgender man in 2014, he has since used the stage name “Ice.”

Ice Seguerra’s singing career took off in the late ’90s. He gained significant popularity for his acoustic covers and renditions of Filipino and international songs. One of his most famous renditions is the song “Pagdating Ng Panahon,” which became a massive hit, along with “Pakisabi Nalang.”

Apart from his music career, Ice Seguerra is known for his activism and advocacy work. In 2016, he has become an important member of the Philippine government, being appointed chairperson of the National Youth Committee.

17. Jed Madela

John Edward Tiña Tajanlangit, known professionally as Jed Madela, is one of the most active Filipino singers on the Internet.

He gained worldwide popularity in 2003 after ranking #1 consistently for three days in the Voice Asia‘s internet poll, earning him the People’s Choice Award. He was also the first Filipino male representative in the mentioned competition, and he won the Silver Trophy in the finals.

That same year, Madela was granted the Best Voice of Asia Male Singer of the Year 2003 by the Mainhill Awards of Kazakhstan. He was also the first Filipino to be inducted into the Hall of Fame of the World Championship Of Performing Arts (WCOPA) and has released nine albums since. 

He is known for his melodic and high countertenor vocal range. Some of his most notable songs and covers are “Let Me Love You (From the Bottom of My Heart),” “The Past,” and “Forevermore.”

Jed has used his fame as a springboard for others, judging singing competitions and mentoring young artists as they navigate fame. He is also a staple on daytime talk shows in the Philippines. 

18. Jake Zyrus

Born Charmaine Clarice Relucio Pempengco in Laguna in 1992, Zyrus was formerly known as “Charice” until his coming out as transgender in 2013. He has since used the name Jake Zyrus.

Zyrus has been performing publicly since he was a child, but he had his first big break in 2005 after winning 3rd place in the Filipino singing competition for pre-teens and kids, Little Big Star.

His distinctive high-octave voice, that’s reminiscent of Whitney Houston’s at a young age, caught the attention of international media. In 2007, Zyrus was invited as a guest at The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

The following year, Zyrus made more international TV appearances, including The Oprah Winfrey Show. He also performed at some of Canadian record producer David Foster’s concerts.

Zyrus’s first album Charice made the Billboard Top 10 in America in 2010, making him the first Asian solo artist to do so. He further released two albums and pursued an acting career throughout the 2010s before coming out as a transgender man and undergoing reconstructive surgery.

He continues to perform up to this day and is an LGBTQIA+ icon for many Filipinos. His latest songs, “Diamond” and “Love Even If,” feature a lower-octave and deeper tone while still retaining the powerful signature sound he is known for.

19. KZ Tandingan

Kristine Zhenie Lobrigas Tandingan-Monterde, professionally known as KZ, is a Filipina singer and rapper. She is often referred to as the “Soul Supreme” of Asia because of her powerful and soulful voice.

KZ first came to fame when she won the country’s first season of The X Factor in 2012. Following her victory, KZ ‘s career took off, and she became one of the most sought-after artists in the Philippines.

Her jazzy covers of songs such as “Two Less Lonely People in the World” and “Mahal Ko O Mahal Ako” have peaked at #2 and #3, respectively, on the national charts. She has shared the stage with prominent Filipino singers like Bamboo and Gary V, as well as alongside international acts like Jessie J.

In 2018, KZ joined the judge’s panel for the Chinese TV series Singer 2018 and became internationally known. Her songs and albums have increased in popularity since.

Exposed to a more international audience, KZ even had the opportunity to contribute to the soundtrack of the critically acclaimed animated film Coco by recording the Philippine version of the song “Remember Me.”

20. Moira Dela Torre

Unlike many of the artists on this list, Moira Dela Torre didn’t rise to fame as the result of a singing competition or talent show. Instead, she started off writing and singing commercial jingles for companies like McDonald’s, Johnson and Johnson’s, and Surf. 

However, Moira’s covers of famous songs did eventually lead her to a singing competition, where she scored runner-up. Her covers of songs like “Torete” and “Titibo-Tibo,” along with her sweet, soulful, and soothing voice, earned her the attention of many fans nationwide.

Eventually, she released her first EP, Moira, and her single “Love Me Instead” hit the charts. Her fame rose significantly after singing “Malaya,” one of the soundtracks for the Filipino romantic-comedy film Camp Sawi.

Her ability to craft heartrending and touching songs has undeniably been one of the cornerstones of her success. Her emotional ballads like “Paubaya” resonate deeply with listeners, often evoking a strong sense of empathy and connection, especially amidst her own real-life experience with heartbreak.

21. Kyla

Melanie Alvarez, whose stage name is Kyla, has single-handedly brought R&B music to the Philippines, earning her the title “Queen Of R&B.”

She began her career at an early age, joining and winning several prestigious TV singing competitions. In 1997, at the age of 16, she won 3rd place in the Metropop Young Singers’ competition.

In 2000 at the age of 19, she signed her first recording contract with OctoArts EMI Philippines. However, it was not until her second single, “Hanggang Ngayon,” that she rose to fame. 

She soon shifted to R&B, yet she is still known for the versatility of her voice, often singing soulful songs. Many of her singles ranked #1 in local charts, including “Human Nature,” “If The Feeling Is Gone,” and “Not Your Ordinary Girl.”

Kyla was the first East Asian woman to win an MTV Music Award and has a star on the Philippines Walk of Fame.

Summing Up Our Thoughts Of The Greatest Filipino Singers

Each of these singers has made an impact on the world from their humble beginnings.

Many other popular international singers also have Filipino blood in them, and they’re proud of it: Bruno Mars, Olivia Rodrigo, Enrique Iglesias, and Jasmine Trias, just to name a few.

Did we miss anyone from our list? Let us know, and we’d be glad to add them!

Photo of author

Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.