When Wilfredo Buen­camino Cruz, bet­ter known as Willy Cruz, passed away last April 17, the mu­sic in­dus­try bade good­bye to an icon, an artist, a men­tor, and a friend.

The es­teemed song­writer and mu­si­cal di­rec­tor suf­fered a stroke and was in a coma for a week at St. Luke’s Hospi­tal in Que­zon City. He breathed his last early in the morn­ing of the day af­ter Easter Sun­day (known as Easter Mon­day in some coun­tries). He was 70.

The great-grand­nephew of com­poser Fran­cisco Buen­camino and the cousin of cel­e­brated clas­si­cal pianist Ce­cile Li­cad, Willy Cruz was the man behind a num­ber of OPM (Orig­i­nal Pilipino Mu­sic) hits, in­clud­ing “Sana’y Magh­in­tay ang Walang Hang­gan,” “Ka­pag Puso’y Sin­u­gatan,” “Doon Lang,” “Araw-Araw, Gabi-Gabi,” and “Init sa Mag­damag.”

The founder of Jem Record­ing, Willy also pro­duced songs for Nonoy Zuñiga (“Never Ever Say Good­bye”), Ha­jji Ale­jan­dro (“May Mi­nama­hal”), and Zsa Zsa Padilla (“Kahit Na”). • Sharon Cuneta and her hus­band, Se­na­tor Fran­cis “Kiko” Pangili­nan, were among those who sent fu­neral flow­ers to Willy’s wake at the Loy­ola Me­mo­rial Chapels in Makati City.

The pro­lific song­writer worked on the mu­si­cal scores of some of Sharon Cuneta’s most un­for­get­table movies, such as Bukas Lu­luhod ang mga Tala (1984), Sana’y Wala Nang Wakas (1986), and Madrasta (1996). That’s why when news of his death reached the Megas­tar, she took to so­cial me­dia to express her sad­ness and ap­pre­ci­a­tion for Willy: “I have no words, only tears and grat­i­tude and love. What kills me is you didn’t have to go this soon. I will love you for­ever. Maram­ing sala­mat sa mga obra, higit sa la­hat, sa tu­nay na pagkakaibi­gan at pag­mama­ha­lan.”

On July 23, 2016, Willy (sec­ond from left) ap­peared on the “ASAPi­noy” seg­ment of the ABS-CBN Sun­day mu­si­cal va­ri­ety show ASAP. He was given an en­sem­ble mu­si­cal trib­ute, led by singers (L-R) Martin Niev­era, Ha­jji Ale­jan­dro, Sitti, and Erik San­tos.

The so­cial me­dia pages of artists and even record­ing com­pa­nies—in­clud­ing Noel Ca­ban­gon, Ogie Al­casid, Lea Sa­longa, and Viva Records—hon­ored the life and achieve­ments of Willy Cruz by post­ing heart­warm­ing mes­sages about the well-known mu­si­cal di­rec­tor and pianist and bid­ding him farewell.

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