December 11, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

OPM composer Willy Cruz, 70

VETERAN COMPOSER of OPM classics Wilfredo “Willy” Buencamino Cruz, passed away at the age of 70 after suffering a stroke last week.

His death was confirmed by his sister, Magdalena Africa, according to a tweet by ABS-CBN’s Mario Dumawal.

He passed away at 1 a.m., according to a tweet by singer-songwriter, Jim Paredes.

Mr. Cruz was behind Original Pilipino Music (OPM) hits such as “Bituing Walang Ningning” and “Sana’y Wala Nang Wakas,” both popularized by Sharon Cuneta. He had composed works sung by prominent OPM artists including Hajji Alejandro and Pilita Corrales.

Born on Jan. 30, 1947 in San Miguel, Manila, Mr. Cruz started his career by composing songs for TV commercials and films in the 1970s and gained prominence when he won first place at the World Popular Song Festival in 1975 with “Araw-araw, Gabi-gabi.”

He was inducted into the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences (FAMAS) Awards Hall of Fame in 1989 after winning the musical scoring category five times. He also was a recipient of the Dangal Award, a lifetime achievement recognition given by Awit Awards.

He wrote over 100 songs for films including, “Never Ever Say Goodbye,” “Sana’y Maghintay ang Walang Hanggan,” among many others.

After his death was announced, members of the local music industry poured out their grief on social media, thanking him for his contribution to the industry. Singer-songwriter Ogie Alcasid, called him “a national treasure,” while singer Lea Salonga said: “Rest in God’s loving arms, Willy Cruz. You have left such a legacy of amazing music to remember you by.”

“Truly sad over the passing of Willy Cruz, his music enriched OPM. Make beautiful music in heaven, old pal,” said singer Leah Navarro in a tweet.

“Willy Cruz’s years of association with Vicor Music and Viva Records has been one of the most creative periods in the songwriter’s career and he has received multiple accolades both as a music composer and as recording artist,” said Viva Record Corp., in a Facebook post.

“We are honored to witness Willy Cruz’s greatness and forever grateful for his contributions to OPM,” it added. -- ZBC