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.