Songstress Nica del Rosario has written hits that either launched or further cemented the status of local musicians. Her breakthrough as a solo artist, however, came with her career-defining single “Rosas,” which features actress and singer Gab Pangilinan.

The song later won Best Collaboration at the 36th Awit Awards on November 9. Not to mention, it was a cultural touchstone that bridged millions of Filipinos through a turbulent period.

“Rosas” was and is the moment. Beyond making a name for the singer behind the songwriter, it allowed del Rosario to go beyond herself and make a breakthrough once again for someone else. This time, it was not for a fellow music artist. It was for former Vice President and defeated 2022 presidentiable Leni Robredo.

Nica del Rosario

Del Rosario shared the reluctant thought process that eventually blossomed into the fearless song rallying thousands of people to the streets. The Philippines has seen scores of political anthems that reached the masses, but Rosas is one of the few partisan hits openly supporting an electoral candidate to truly resonate.

During this year’s Pinoy Playlist Music Festival, del Rosario bared how “Rosas” almost never came to fruition. Here are the makings of this political anthem as described by the hitmaker herself.

“This song changed a lot for me. It wasn’t really planned. It was almost an accident. I had so much emotion, because it was 2 in the morning,” del Rosario recalled having a moment to herself in her room.

“There was so much chaos going on in our country… I just wanted to help. I’m not a very brave person… I have so much admiration for people who just fight head-on.”

From there, she reflected on how she could use what strengths she had to make a concrete difference. That strength was music, she realized. Del Rosario toyed with her guitar until her friend challenged her with the prompt of another person’s point of view.

“I wrote it quickly. Mga siguro [maybe] less than an hour kasi nagda-drama lang ako [I was being dramatic] by myself. Pinarinig ko sa asawa ko tapos umiyak siya so sabi ko baka good sign ‘yun [I had my wife, Justine Peña, listen to it and she cried so I thought it was a good sign].

She then had the head of her record label to have the song possibly released around November to December 2021. Although it got the green light, del Rosario lost the nerve to release the song come Christmas time and decided by January 2022 to keep the song for her own ears.

Nica del Rosario Rosas

“Do we really need another song?” a reluctant del Rosario thought at the time, thinking how there had been many campaign music releases already. However, her partner and colleagues alike convinced her that people needed to hear “Rosas.”

Within a couple of weeks, she contacted everyone needed to make the song, including Pangilinan, whom she had already worked with before. They successfully recorded and uploaded the song together in a short span of time.

“It came out and what happened next, we did not expect at all. If narinig niyo ‘tong song na ‘to and naapektuhan kayo in some way or another, gusto ko lang sabihin na maraming, maraming salamat [If you heard this song and were affected in some way or another, I just want to say many, many thanks],” del Rosario celebrated.

“This song made me believe in myself again and made me realize that people actually do like to listen to what I have to say even if it’s not from the voices and instruments of people who are more talented and famous than I am.”

Del Rosario said “Rosas” changed how she was a songwriter for other people. She was right. From writing songs for other musicians, she finally got to use her own voice as the unintentional face of a movement that inspired a generation of Filipinos.