Behind the Music: 'Init sa Magdamag' by Sharon Cuneta and Nonoy Zuniga

Leah C. Salterio

Posted at Apr 10 2021 02:11 PM

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When Carmencita “Baby” Gil and Willy Cruz collaborated the theme song to the movie “Init sa Magdamag,” directed by Laurice Guillen in 1983, they were not thinking about creating a hit song. They were mainly concerned about how it would best fit the film.

“Willy and I were assigned to come up with the theme for the movie,” Gil told ABS-CBN News. “We”ve worked together before, but ‘Init sa Magdamag’ was our first theme song for Viva. The song was composed with the plot of the picture in mind.”

Yet “Init sa Magdamag,” recorded by Sharon Cuneta and Nonoy Zuñiga, became an instant hit, as did the film which starred Lorna Tolentino, Dindo Fernando and Joel Torre.

Behind the Music: 'Init sa Magdamag' by Sharon Cuneta and Nonoy Zuniga 1
(L to R): Songwriters Willy Cruz and Baby Gil, with Sharon Cuneta, Nonoy Zuñiga and vocal arranger Babsie Molina (seated). Photo courtesy of Baby Gil

The stirring ballad became a much-requested and popular song on the radio. “Just like what we had done several times before, Willy came up with the melody and then I did the lyrics based on the script written by Raquel Villavicencio,” Gil said.

“It was a job,” Gil maintained. “I did not really need inspiration, just the right words to fit the notes.”

“Init sa Magdamag” emained popular even after the film had long been shown.

“Both Sharon and Nonoy were making one hit after another during that time, so it was almost a sure thing that ‘Init sa Magdamag’ would become a hit,” said Gil. “The great thing is that the song acquired a life of its own over the years, independent of the movie.”

“Init sa Magdamag” had other versions by other local artists. Ariel Rivera and Jun Polistico recorded their respective versions. The more recent one was recorded by Jona, as the theme of the forthcoming ABS-CBN teleserye of the same title that will premiere on April 19.

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“Being performed live and recorded by various artists is the best way for a song to stay alive,” Gil said. “’Init sa Magdamag’ is almost 40 years old, but it is still around and the main reason is it is still being heard and still sounds new because of the new versions.”

But did you know that the song was born out of girl talk?

“Laurice, Raquel and the late Bibsy Carballo spent a lot of time at my office at Viva, while working on the film,” Gil recalled. “We had a lot of fun dissecting those lyrics for the song.” 

Apart from Cuneta and Zuñiga, who were the first ones to record “Init sa Magdamag,” there were other versions that came up through the years.

“Aside from the duet, Sharon and Nonoy both recorded solo versions of ‘Init sa Magdamag’,” said Gil. “There is also one by Eva Eugenio, which is a very different take. Likewise, the one by Joanna Ampil.

“All of them are my favorites. It is most flattering that they chose to record our song. I get very excited with every new version.”

To date, “Init sa Magdamag” has undoubtedly become such an iconic hit. Whoever croons the song anew will give new flavor to the ballad that Gil collaborated with Cruz nearly four decades ago.

And the songwriter will nonetheless be proud again with every new version of her composition.

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