MANILA, Philippines—Eddie Munji III, the guitarist known for his creative arrangements of traditional Filipino folk songs as well as local pop tunes, died of massive stroke at past 7 p.m. Sunday at the Queen Mary Help of Christians Hospital in Cardona, Rizal, his niece Cristina Antonino confirmed to the Philippine Daily Inquirer. He was 57.
Antonino said that Munji, who was suffering from hypertension, collapsed in the bathroom of his home in Cardona around 3 a.m. He was brought to the hospital where doctors tried to revive him unsuccessfully.
His death came on the heels of the passing of another outstanding Filipino musician, bassist Roger Herrera, 80, who died of pneumonia on Nov. 14.
Known as “Lakay” among his colleagues because of his matured musical outlook at a young age, Munji became part of a generation of top-notch musicians who helped define the sound of contemporary Filipino music in the 1970s and ’80s.
“Eddie was my guitarist in the ‘Team A’ of session musicians after Narding Castañeda left,” pianist-composer-arranger Ryan Cayabyab told the Inquirer.
“We did mostly big shows together with Roger Herrera and Jun Regalado. He was the featured guitar player on my first album, ‘Roots To Routes.’ He was the original guitarist of my pop ballet “Ramahari” (to be restaged on Nov. 30 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines).
He was part of my close barkada of arrangers in the ’70s and ’80s which included Willie Cruz, Lorrie Illustre, Jun Latonio, Quito Colayco and Babsie Molina.”
In 1978, Munji’s album, “Pinoy Jazz,” was released. It contained wonderful, intricately arranged versions of “Bahay Kubo,” “Salidummay,” Sarung Banggi,” “Pandangguhan,” among others.
Said Cayabyab: “His arrangements were inventive and aggressive, quite ahead of its time. ‘Pinoy Jazz’ successfully pushed the genre that he owned.”
Drummer Jun Regalado, Munji’s collaborator along with Herrera in many recordings, said: “He was one of the best musical arrangers of our time. He worked best under pressure. Roger and I played on his album ‘Pinoy Jazz.’ He was also the guitarist and arranger of Bong Gabriel’s ‘Ang Aking Awitin’ (a finalist in the 2nd Metro Manila Pop Music Festival in 1979).”
Jim Paredes, who produced “Pinoy Jazz,” posted this message on Twitter four hours after Munji passed away: “I am devastated … feel a great loss. Eddie made great arrangements for APO. He was also a dear friend … Eddie arranged ‘Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo,’ ‘Panalangin,’ (Mahirap Magmahal ng) Syota ng Iba,’ ‘Syotang Pa-Class,’ ‘Lumang Tugtugin,’ ‘Salawikain,’ and many more.”
Munji’s remains will be brought to the funeral chapel of the Sto. Domingo Church in Quezon City, his niece Max told the INQUIRER.
The wake will start 4 p.m. Tuesday (November 20) at the said venue.