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Ric Manrique Jr.: King of Kundiman

TRIBUTE – This is a belated tribute to the King of Kundiman, Ric Manrique Jr., who died at 76 in California on Sept. 23 of heart attack. Ric inherited – in a manner of speaking – the royal title in 1970 from Ruben Tagalog, who then migrated to Guam. Tagalog died in 1985 in San Diego, California, but two years before his death in 1983, he was honored by the First Cecil Awards with a Gintong Gawad for his achievement in Philippine music.

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Ric revived Kundiman by recording the Filipino love songs composed by such masters as Nicanor Abelardo, Francisco Santiago, and Bonifacio Abdon. From 1965 to 1978, Ric was a Villar artist, solo and member of Mabuhay Singers. At Villar, he recorded more than two dozens long-play albums.

MOVIE THEMES – Ric became a favorite interpreter of movie theme songs. To name some:

“Maruja,” “Dahil sa Isang Bulaklak,” “Ang Daigdig Ko’y Ikaw,” “Carmela,” “Sapagkat Kami Ay Tao Lamang,” “Iginuhit sa Buhangin,” “Tanging Diyos Lamang ang Nakakaalam.”

Ric also sang English songs like “Till I Die” and “Alone at Last.” The latter was his entry to the 1960 “Tawag ng Tanghalan” finals, where he lost to Cenon Lagman. I thought all along that Ric was a “Tawag” champion, but thanks to the Star column (sounds familiar) of music authority Baby A. Gil I finally got it right.

‘TAWAG’ CHAMPIONS – While at it, may as well enumerate all the “Tawag” champions and their winning songs, courtesy of Baby A. Gil.

1955 – Jose Gonzales (Pepe Pimentel) – “Angelitos Negros”

1956 – Rizal “Boy” Ortega – “Ponciana”

1957 – Larry Martinez – “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”

1958 – Leon Ibrado – “The Night Has a Thousand Eyes”

1959 – Diomedes Maturan – “Rose Tattoo”

1960 – Cenon Lagman – “Ikaw Lamang ang Iibigin”

1961 – Rufina Esperancilla – “Pandangguhan”

1962 – Conchita Penalosa – “If You Are But a Dream.”

1963 – Boy Leonardo – “Tammy”

1964 – Eva Adona – “ Somewhere Over the Rainbow”

1965 – Juna Pena – “Autumn Leaves”

1966 – Elizabeth Torres – “Bewitched”

1967 – Elizabeth Ledesma – “People”

1968 – Nora Aunor – “Moonlight Becomes You”

1969 – Jonathan Potenciano – “You’re Closer to Me.”

1970 – Novo Bono Jr. – “If You Go Away”

1971 – Alice Mendez – “A House Is Not a Home”

1972 – Marsha de Vera – “Where Am I Going?”

(Martial Law was imposed in September 1972, ending the glorious reign of “Tawag ng Tanghalan.” ABS-CBN’s “Showtime” revived the singing contest.)