Cebu City mourns passing of Rudy Villanueva

CEBU. Msgr. Rudy Villanueva died on Thursday, May 23, 2024, at 83 years old.
CEBU. Msgr. Rudy Villanueva died on Thursday, May 23, 2024, at 83 years old.Photo from Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cebu

THE Cebu City Government is one with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cebu in the passing of Cebuano icon Monsignor Rodolfo Villanueva.

Villanueva passed away on Thursday evening, May 23, 2023. He was 83.

In an interview on Saturday, May 25, 2024, acting Cebu City Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia said Villanueva is an icon in Cebu City and the city is very proud of him.

“His works are not only in literature, but also in the realm of music has really resonated in many of the Cebuanos, especially most of his music is focused on religion and the Church, and we are a very religious people, the Cebuanos,” Garcia said.

“He will be surely missed, but his legacy will live on. In his works, he has done, through his very productive and industrious life, he is a source of our inspiration as well,” he added.

Garcia also expressed gratitude for the contributions of Villanueva, thanking the city for being able to confer the Sugboanon Bahandi Award to him in 2023.

Villanueva, who used the pen name Renato E. Madrid, played a significant role in the devotion to Saint Pedro Calungsod, composing many devotional songs such as “Way Sukod man ang Pagmahal,” “By the Power of Your Giving,” and the “Gozos of Saint Pedro Calungsod.”

His other notable songs include "Sugbuanon nga Simbahan," "Umari ka," "Espiritu Santo," and "Cebu, Cebu."

Villanueva also made significant contributions to both secular and religious literature, writing plays in both English and Cebuano.

He was a trained composer and conductor, publishing five books of Cebuano music and recording his compositions, showcasing his dedication to Cebuano culture. His renowned liturgical works included choral compositions, Masses, and musical dramas.

He published "Southern Harvest," "Devil Wings" (1997), and "Mass for the Death of an Enemy" (2000). His collection "Southern Harvest" included award-winning stories originally published in the Philippines Free Press and Asian Leader.

Villanueva's academic background is equally impressive. He studied Philosophy and Theology at San Carlos Seminary in Cebu, literature at the University of Santo Tomas, and Music Composition at Mankato State University in Minnesota.

In his younger years, Villanueva was on the staff at San Carlos Seminary in Cebu and taught at St. Joseph Seminary and Silliman University Music School in Dumaguete, highlighting his commitment to education and mentorship in both religious and artistic fields.

In 2022, the Cebu City Government also awarded Villanueva the Order of Rajah Humabon Award for his outstanding achievement in the arts, music, and literature. (AML)

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