Artists of lesser faith would not have recovered from an incident that befell then unknown Nonoy Zuniga one Saturday back in 1980. His is a classic tale of walking ahead in life after a tragedy and seeing light at the end of the tunnel.
The scenario was Martial Law with ultra-rightists sowing terror by planting bombs in government-owned installations and hotels,” recalled the A-list balladeer.
The date was October 4, 1980 when Nonoy found himself in a restroom beside Siete Pecados lounge inside Philippine Plaza (now Sofitel). He was a performer in a band doing nightly shows at the hotel’s lounge.
With his distinctively calm, soothing voice that sounded no trace of anger and fear, Nonoy went back to the fateful moment, “A bomb exploded right beside me and naputol kaagad ang right leg ko, above the knee. Nilagay yung bomb sa isang steel garbage bin in that restroom and I happened to be right there, nagsusuklay ako, just doing my routine.”
Nonoy, who continues to hold regular gigs here and abroad on the strength of his now-classic hit songs, managed to make a joke as to what kept him alive and, no pun intended, kicking, “Nabuhay naman ako kasi sabi nila masamang damo ako.”
Yet, he quickly revealed the true reason why he was able to stand tall after such a spirit downer.
That happened before fame. Pero di pa rin ako nawalan ng pag-asa. I can say lumabas ang pagiging relihiyoso ko.”
Fate has a way to reward some of those it treated unfair. The solo career that turned a struggling amputee band member into a household name came from just a simple offer which he naturally accepted. No big plans. He was just asked to sing songs.
People like the songs given to me. My being a singer, as you know ay dumating lang, it was never planned,” he shared.
Nonoy is behind OPM standards like “Doon Lang,” “Kamusta Ka,” and “Never Ever Say Goodbye.” The Aegis hit “Basang Basa Sa Ulan” is actually his original.
The singing icon has scored 20 albums in a lengthy career that has seen him try various concept projects. Currently, he is recording dialect songs, including his version of “Waray Waray” produced by Paulo Zarate and to be released anytime soon in digital format. It is a homage to his Waray roots.
He previously recorded a Cebuano song called “Pero Atik Ra” which he collaborated with Cebuana singer Jolliane Salvado.
You have to be good in all your dealings to stay there. Hindi ka dapat magiging mayabang,” he said, hinting at the kind of behavior that awarded him his lofty status in local music history.
Last March he held a concert at Resorts World Manila simply dubbed “Through The Years.”
Nonoy vocally stated he will never quit singing and stop recording as long as he can. Sensibly, if there ever was a quitter in him, that apparently went off with that bomb.