Behind the Music: 'Nag-iisang Ikaw' by Louie Heredia

Leah C. Salterio

Posted at May 15 2021 04:22 PM | Updated as of May 16 2021 07:34 AM

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The OPM hit song, “Nag-iisang Ikaw,” was “so baduy” the first time its original singer, Louie Heredia, heard it. 

Although it was tailor-made for him by its composer, Vehnee Saturno, Heredia did not initially want to record the ballad for Vicor Music Corporation.

“I even cried to my friend in Vicor and I was telling her that song is not for me,” Heredia told ABS-CBN News.

It was perhaps understandable that Heredia, who at that time had just come home from the US where he finished his studies, would not easily be convinced to record an original Tagalog ballad.

He first recorded “Can Find No Reason” for his debut album, “From Another Place and Time,” and that song was a success when the album was released on vinyl and cassettes in 1986. 

Yet, Heredia had to leave for the US to finish his studies, so there was a lull in his singing career.

“After promoting my first album, I had to leave to finish college, so in many ways, the momentum of my career changed,” Heredia recalled. “When I finally graduated and came back to Manila to pursue my singing and recording career, Vicor gave me ‘Nag-iisang Ikaw.’"

“Then I was told that if I did not record that song, they would take me out of Vicor, so I had no choice but to record it and give my best, with no less than the best producers guiding me in my recording.”

To make the long story short, “the rest is history” for Heredia. 

“Nag-iisang Ikaw” soared to the top of the airlanes and became a hit in no time. “That song changed my whole career,” he admitted. “Nag-iisang Ikaw’ was really a God-given song for me, because that song was a make-or-break situation in my career.”

To this day, Heredia still finds it unthinkable how “Nag-iisang Ikaw” became an even bigger hit than those released during his first venture into recording. 

“I just took everything from day to day and enjoyed the career God had given me at that time,” Heredia said. “It is just so amazing how that song has touched so many people's lives to this day.”

Recently, Heredia finished doing a video for somebody who passed away because of COVID-19. 

“Before he passed away, he was still enjoying singing the one and only ‘Nag-iisang Ikaw’,” Heredia shared. 

Embracing the success of the song came easy for Heredia, even if he originally detested the ballad that Saturno wrote. 

“When I finally decided that yes, it was a go, I did my best and embraced the song,” Heredia quipped.

“Especially with Vehnee Saturno guiding me all the way. I love that guy and we have remained dear friends up to this day. ‘Nag-iisang Ikaw’ will define me forever… until the day I go!”

“Nag-iisang Ikaw” became a much-requested song on the radio and even in all of Heredia’s performances then and until now. The song is something that will always be attached to and identified with him.

“Nag-iisang Ikaw” became the successful carrier single of Heredia’s 1989 album, “Para Sa ‘Yo,” under Vicor. 

The album yielded other big hits like “Iisang Damdamin” and “Pinakamamahal.” But with the success of “Nag-iisang Ikaw,” the album was then certified double platinum.

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“Grabe that album… non-stop hits from that one,” Heredia beamed.

“That album has really touched many people's lives. Only do you realize that the album was such a big hit when you meet people like Mang Rolly Dulay, who is working part time on my new home in Tagaytay."

“He was so excited to meet me, since he is a big fan of mine even before. And his favorites are all the songs from the ‘Para Sa ‘Yo’ album, most especially ‘Iisang Damdamin.’ So, in my next visit to Tagaytay, I will surprise him with my singing of ‘Iisang Damdamin’ while he is working.”

In “Para sa ‘Yo,” Heredia even penned a track, “Sa Habang Panahon,” the third song he wrote and recorded following the first ones – “New Horizons” and “Remember” – that were included in his debut album, “From Another Place and Time.”

“In my whole career, I only composed three songs that were recorded,” Heredia disclosed. “After ‘Sa Habang Panahon,’ I still wrote a few songs but were no longer recorded commercially.”

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“Nag-iisang Ikaw” became one of the most-loved and best-selling ballads that will always be attached to Heredia’s successful singing career. 

To him, the song remains a beautiful and timeless classic.

“’Nag-iisang Ikaw’ will forever be a song loved by the Pinoys all over the world and will forever be attached to Louie Heredia,” he said. “Like what I told Martin Nievera in a previous interview... even after death!”

Through the years, “Nag-iisang Ikaw” had versions by other local artists like Christian Bautista and Donna Cruz. 

“It's an amazing feeling because all the hard work you did in the past has all paid off because those big, talented stars are recognizing this beautiful classic song that I once recorded,” Heredia maintained. 

“Suddenly, I feel elevated to being an icon when my songs are revived. It touches my heart completely.”

“Nag-iisang Ikaw” has undoubtedly become a sentimental favorite by many. “Honestly, to this day, I really don't know why the people love this song so much to the point that it has been their theme song in their weddings or even the song used in their memorable proposals,” Heredia said.

“Vehnee Saturno really has that touch and he knew that this song would fit me totally. Perfect combination, as many would say. A Tisoy guy coming from the States and singing a Tagalog song like ‘Nag-iisang Ikaw,’ I guess, just hit the spot with the Pinoys."

“To think that I didn't want to record this song then. I look back now and laugh at myself, saying what a spoiled brat Louie Heredia was before. Can you imagine if I did that today? End of career... Bow!”

Among the songs that Heredia recorded through the years, his favorite is “Huwag Kang Mangamba,” an inspirational piece penned by Fr. Manoling Francisco, SJ and Prof. Onofre Pagsanghan of the Ateneo de Manila University.

“Huwag Kang Mangamba” made it a track in Heredia’s last album, “Kung Magmamahal.” The song is now a teleserye on the Kapamilya Channel and newly recorded by Angeline Quinto.

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“Huwag Kang Mangamba’ is a simple but beautiful inspirational song based on the Bible,” Heredia said. “It took me like 20 minutes to record that song. I loved it so much. Feel na feel ko up to this day.”

Heredia has done successful concerts, records, TV shows, performances here and abroad. He even appeared in a Hollywood film, “Accepted” (2006), starring Justin Long, Jonah Hill and Blake Lively.

After more three decades in the entertainment business, Heredia is simply “so happy, relaxed and blessed” with where he is now. “I cannot ask for anything more...really,” he said.

“God gave me my singing career in a silver platter, while others have to work sooo hard for it. I am truly, truly thankful for all the blessings and would have never achieved all those without the help of all of my friends. Maraming, maraming salamat from the bottom of my heart!”